After a slow start to the 2019 season, the three-time track champion won for the third time in his past four Crate Late Model starts at Volunteer Speedway. Saturday’s win came on “Fan Appreciation Night” during which the Jonesborough racer drove his blue No. 24 Chevrolet to a dominant win in front of one of the track’s largest crowds in recent memory.
Byrd set a fast time in qualifying with a 13.887-second lap and then led flag to flag over the 30 laps on the Bulls Gap four-tenths-mile dirt track. He powered to the lead over Gary Crittenden on the opening lap and easily stayed out front.
While Byrd was a man on a mission, the racing behind him was intense with Johnson City’s Tim Maupin putting on a show. Maupin qualified third in his black No. 3 Chevy but had to start from the rear of the 15-car field when his car weighed light at the scales.
Maupin sliced his way through the field and was contending for a top-five spot by lap 8. He ended up with a third-place finish right behind Rusty Ballenger.
Layne Clifton and Rusty Webb rounded out the top five after Crittenden fell out of the race on lap 24 with mechanical issues.
Rogersville’s Jesse Helton emerged from an early side-by-side battle with Jody Horton to win a 23-car Sportsman Late Model feature. Helton had smooth sailing after Horton dropped out on lap 11, going on to his second win of the season.
In a race featuring plenty of two- and three-wide action, Chris Coffey took the runner- up spot and Adam Mitchell finished third.
Wayne Rader of Parrottsville also won for the second time this season in the Modified Street ranks. Kurt Owens, brother of Late Model star Jimmy Owens, battled past Gary Blanken and Dustin Ratliff to finish second. Ratliff finished third.
Kentucky driver John Stevens continued his mastery of the Classic division with his seventh win of the season. Austin Atkins of Morristown won for the third time this season in Street Stock, and Knoxville driver John Byers earned his first win of the season in Mini Stock.
Volunteer Speedway hosts the $2,000-to-win American Crate Late Model Series Food City 40 this Saturday. Preliminary races include a Quick 6 Dash for the top six qualifiers and heat races. All the track’s other divisions are also scheduled.
Grandstands open at 5 p.m. and hot laps begin at 7 p.m.
Kingsport Speedway will host “Back to School Night” on Friday, highlighted by a 60-lap feature in the Late Model Stock division.
Rain forced the cancellation of racing last Friday.
A trio of Kingsport Late Model drivers rank in the top 100 in the latest NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division 1 points.
Kres VanDyke, winner of the previous Kingsport race, is 54th in the points. Track points leader Nik Williams is 65th, two spots ahead of Bluff City’s Wayne Hale. All three drivers have also been racing at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia.
Williams leads the Tennessee state standings by eight points over Johnson City’s Zeke Shell.
Kevin Wolfe is 41st in the Division 2 standings and Kevin Canter is fifth in Division 3.
Five Kingsport drivers are near the top of the Division 4 standings. Keith Helton is third, Bruce Crumbley fifth, Bucky Smith seventh, Josh Detweiler ninth and William Hale 11th.
Doug Austin is ninth and Tony Dockery is 12th in the Division 5 points.
HOT SUMMER NIGHTS
Tyler Orfield of Johnson City swept both motos to win the Veteran Warrior division at Saturday’s Hot Summer Nights Supercross Series event at Muddy Creek Raceway.
Sullivan Central student Carson Eads of Kingsport won two races and posted a runner- up finish in another division. Wyatt Cochran of Blountville also captured a win and a runner-up finish.
Jonesborough racers and Daniel Boone students Jacob Carberry (Unlimited D) and Justin Carberry (250D) each had a runner-up finish along with a third-place run.
Hans Nell of Piney Flats rode to second in both the Pro and 30+ division races.
Other runner-up finishes included Johnson City’s Madison Hensley (Women), Gray’s Ashton Seeley (85cc, Beginner), Kingsport’s Logan Gilliam (Unlimited C), Kingsport’s Mason Price (51 cc, Beginner) and Telford’s Eathan Gillis (ATV Novice).
The Hot Summer Nights Supercross Series moves to I-81 Motorsports Park for Saturday’s upcoming races.
IT’S BRISTOL BABY
No racing is scheduled at Bristol Dragway this weekend as the facility prepares to host campers for the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Aug. 17.
Chase Elliott, who took part in a special BMS promotion that included riding in a Blackhawk helicopter in Nashville, put on a dominating performance over the weekend at the Watkins Glen road course. He won the pole for the Food City 500 in April, so a big question is how he can build on that momentum.
There is plenty of great racing action and great values for race fans. This includes a 400-lap doubleheader featuring the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series and K&N Series on Thursday and both Monster Energy Cup Series qualifying and the NASCAR Xfinity Series Food City 300 on Friday, Aug 16.
Email Jeff Birchfield at [email protected]