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Ferguson exits full-time competition as a winner

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Sep 4, 2018 at 8:21 PM

Robbie Ferguson went out a winner and a championship contender in his final season as a full-time driver at Kingsport Speedway.

In June, the 57-year-old Jonesborough driver held off two-time track champion Kres VanDyke to be a winner in his final season, and Ferguson wound up fourth in the track championship standings. Still, he wondered what could have been if a couple of things had worked out differently.

Ferguson was disqualified for a carburetor infraction the second race of the season, costing him 28 points. If that hadn't happened, he would have potentially owned a one-point lead in the standings going into the final race of the season.

But in the end, Ferguson, the 2002 track champion, finished on a high note. He finished third in the final race and left the track with the respect of his fellow competitors.

"If there is anyone you want to finish second to, it's Robbie Ferguson," VanDyke said in June. "He's a great veteran. I lost the points championship to him by one point in 2002, but we've always been great friends, and congratulations to him."

Ferguson, a state runner-up as a wrestler at Daniel Boone, is part of the 2018 class of inductees to the school's athletic hall of fame. In fact, he turned down an opportunity to wrestle for Columbia in New York to pursue his racing dreams.

As a driver, he raced at Kingsport when the track was dirt but found his greatest success on pavement, including winning the track's Super Stock rookie of the year in 1978.

He had success at other local tracks, notably winning 10 of 11 races at Newport Speedway in 1992. He also made one start in NASCAR’s truck series at Indianapolis Raceway Park, six starts in the NASCAR Southeast Series and two starts in the old Pro Cup Series.

Ferguson isn't calling it a retirement, although he does plan to take all of next season off. He has mentioned the possibility of a limited schedule in the future. Whatever he decides, the Jonesborough driver has made a huge impact on the local racing scene and will be remembered as a winner and champion.

CHAMPIONSHIP BY A FOOT

While Zeke Shell's margin of victory in the final Kingsport Speedway track championship standings was seven points over VanDyke, he won the Tennessee state championship literally by a foot.

The Johnson City driver passed Hayden Woods for fourth place coming off turn 4 of the final lap to edge Wood by just a foot at the line, giving him a two-point win over Nik Williams of Chuckey. If Shell hadn't gotten the position, he would have tied Williams in the points and Williams had the tiebreaker because he won more races.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Trey Bayne, the 14-year-old younger brother of NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne, won the Tennessee state rookie of the year title with his 11th-place finish last Friday night.

In his first season driving a full-size stock car, Trey Bayne won a race on June 8 and finished seventh in the track points standings. Greeneville’s Bryson Dennis finished second in the rookie standings and Dillon Hodge, a 15-year-old Sullivan South student, was third.

TRANSFORMATION UNDERWAY

Lonesome Pine Raceway was rebranded Clay Valley Speedway after dirt went down over the asphalt at the Coeburn track last Wednesday.

The track was closed for the 2018 season, but new owner Bobby Hill is excited to reopen it as a dirt-racing facility. The moderate banking should provide a great racing surface for dirt cars and hopefully entice many major series to come to the new Clay Valley Speedway.

VOLUNTEER CHANGES

Heavy rain forced the cancellation of last Saturday night's Schaeffer's Oil Late Model Series "Labor Day Classic" at Volunteer Speedway.

Fans who purchased armbands for pits or tier parking can use those for a race through the end of the season at either Volunteer Speedway or 411 Speedway; the difference in admission would be refunded at that time. Grandstand tickets also can be used at either track.

Racing returns to the four-tenths-mile dirt track on Sept. 22.

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