BLOUNTVILLE — Kyle Bitterman is taking the big check back to South Carolina again.
Bitterman took the lead on his Gas Gas motorcycle on a holeshot at the start, then held off a fast-closing Justin Rodbell to claim the trophy and a $6,000 winner’s check from the Cody Gragg Memorial race as part of Sunday’s Suzuki Top Gun Showdown at Muddy Creek Raceway. He also won a $500 bonus for the holeshot.
“I felt the pressure behind me the whole time,” said the rider from Pelham. “The track is a little slick so I tried not to ride over my head. We went over the finish line, it felt side by side. I had a front tire on him so that was awesome.”
Another South Carolina rider, Fredrik Noren, battled with the Maryland rider Rodbell before finishing third on a KTM. Mike Alessi, a legendary Supercross racer from Florida, was fourth on a Honda and North Carolina’s Luke Neese fifth on a Yamaha.
It was Bitterman’s second straight win in the prestigious eventwhere he battled both the competition and a challenging racetrack.
“There were deep ruts and a super slick base,” Bitterman said. “You would come out of one of the ruts and then you’re spinning and go into another deep rut. It was tough trying to get the setup for it, but luckily we were able to get out front.”
The win had a greater personal impact than a financial one. Bitterman was a friend of Gragg and his father, Chris Gragg, who were killed in a 2017 highway accident on their way to a race in Georgia.
“To have this race and remember two guys that I grew up racing, it keeps their names alive,” Bitterman said. “I was glad we could remember them and put on a good show for everybody.”
Alessi captured the 450 title, sweeping both motos. Michigan racer Joey Crown was second on a Yamaha, followed by Noren, Florida’s Jack Chambers and Neese. Kingsport rider Logan McConnell was seventh on his KTM.
Rodbell won the 250 title with finishes of 1-2 in his motos. California’s Brandon Scharer won the second moto on a Yamaha and finished second overall. Alessi, Noren and Neese rounded out the top five.
McConnell won the 20+ race, and Kingsport veteran Kevin Walker added a pair of race wins to his massive Muddy Creek collection.
Norton’s Alex Colley won the 85cc, 12-15 race and was finished as the runner-up in another race.
Johnson City’s Isaiah Osborne won his first moto and finished second in the VetMX race for active military and veterans.
Kingsport’s Lindsay Britt was second in the women’s race, and Kingsport riders Johnny Ball and Carson Eads and Piney Flats ATV rider Logan Boomershine joined her with runner-up finishes.