Don’t get the wrong idea: The drivers were in full uniform. The roofs of their cars were removed for the Crate Late Model feature, giving fans a great perspective to look inside the cockpit and see the driver’s hands working the steering wheel throughout the race.
Several of the cars sported pink on some part and many displayed the pink Breast Cancer Awareness ribbon.
Shannon Buckingham of Morristown dominated the 25-lap feature, leading flag to flag to take the win. Rusty Ballenger was second and Cory Hedgecock third in the daytime event that offered up a slick surface.
Johnson City’s Maupin, in sixth, was the top finisher among the Washington County racers. Maupin finished fifth in the season points race, although the former track champion failed to win a race while figuring out a new car.
“We ended up decent in the points,” Maupin said. “This was a new car and we were working with it. We finally were getting it dialed in, but it was a day late and a dollar short.”
Knoxville’s Trevor Sise won the track championship, ahead of runner-up Ballenger and Gary Crittenden in the competitive division’s final points standings.
“This Crate class isn’t any slouch,” Maupin said. “These boys are going fast and everyone is competitive.”
Byrd also battled new-car issues but got it turned around midseason and won three races. He struggled on Sunday, however, qualifying 16th in the 19-car field before working his way up to a 12th-place finish.
“The battles with the new car, it took us awhile to get it dialed in,” Byrd said. “We hadn’t run worse than third until Sunday. We just weren’t hooked to the racetrack.”
Byrd finished fourth in points, a good year for most. But as a three-time track champion, he wanted even more.
“We expected a little more, but we’re fortunate with what we did,” he said. “That’s racing. You have to get with it every day.”
Hughes was happy just to be back behind the wheel. He had a cyst removed from his head in May 2017 and missed all of last season. He returned this past July and finished 11th in Sunday’s race.
“I loved it today,” Hughes said. “The car was running good until it started pushing toward the last of the race. The track was slick as ice, but that makes it fun as a driver. With all that was going on, I didn’t get to run any last year. To come back in July for the first race, it’s more than just racing. Coming out here, everyone here is like family.”
Other Sunday winners were Knoxville’s Clyde Stanton with his first-ever Sportsman Late Model victory, Russellville’s Wayne Rader in Modified Street, Knoxville’s Billy Palmer in Open Wheel Modified, Newport’s Josh Driskell in Street Stock and Kentucky’s John Stevens in Classic.
Volunteer Speedway’s season concludes with a non-points race, the $3,000-to-win Tennessee Crate Late Model Nationals, on Saturday, Nov. 3. Other features are scheduled for the Sportsman Late Model, Open Wheel Modified, Sportsman Late Model and Classic divisions that day.
FORD TAKES GEORGIA TITLE
Another member of the local dirt racing family, Jensen Ford of Jonesborough, won the Georgia State Championship race at Lavonia Speedway on Sunday.
Ford, who won three races at Volunteer Speedway this season, didn’t race for the track championship, opting instead to run in some touring series events and other special events like Sunday’s $2,000-to-win feature.
MONSTER TIME AT BRISTOL
The Metro by T-Mobile Halloween Monster Truck Mash hits Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday.
The event features eight Monster Trucks in racing and freestyle competition, two 25-lap races for the Bandit Big Rig Series as well as an assortment of jet-powered machines.
Gates open at 1 p.m. for a meet-and-greet with the drivers and trick-or-treating for the kids. Fans can also purchase rides in the Sasquatch Monster Truck Bus for $10. The show starts at 3 p.m.
Tickets to the event are $20 for adults in advance, $25 the day of the event, and $5 for kids ages 12 and younger.
Contact Jeff Birchfield at [email protected]