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Local racing season kicks off this weekend

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Feb 21, 2018 at 6:58 PM

The local auto racing season begins Saturday with a daytime showcase for Kingsport Speedway and the opening day of racing at Volunteer Speedway.

First up is the Kingsport Speedway Car Show at The Mall at Johnson City, which starts Saturday at 9 a.m. Also that day, the 45th season of racing at Volunteer Speedway will kick off with the $3,500-to-win "Frostbuster" for the Schaeffer's Oil Iron-Man Championship Late Model Series.

Kingsport Speedway NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock drivers Kres VanDyke, Ronnie McCarty, Robbie Ferguson, Joey Trent, Wayne Hale and Dillon Hodge will be among the drivers and 30 race cars total from the Modified Street, Pure 4, Mod 4 and Pure Street divisions on display in the Mall at Johnson City.

The car show moved from the Ft. Henry Mall to The Mall at Johnson City last year. It drew a record crowd of attendees and turned into one of the Johnson City mall’s largest shopping days of the year.

WEEKLY NASCAR RACING

As far as racing action, the first open practice at Kingsport Speedway is scheduled for March 10 with the first race slated for Saturday, March 24. There will be more Saturday racing on March 31 and April 7 before the track slides into its traditional Friday night slot on April 20.

There are 22 nights of racing scheduled including a full points season for the NASCAR Weekly All-American Series, which wraps up Aug. 31. There will be a special race for non-winners on Sept. 14.

VOLUNTEER SPEEDWAY

For dirt track fans, the Super Late Models are the featured attraction Saturday at Volunteer Speedway. Racers for other classes include a $1,200-to-win feature for the the Iron-Man Open Modified Series, a $1,500-to-win feature for the Crate Late Models, and other features for the Sportsman Late Models, Modified Street and Classic divisions.

Grandstands open at 9 a.m. with hot laps at 12:30 p.m., followed by qualifying, and racing beginning around 2:30 p.m. If the good weather holds up, well over 100 race cars are expected.

It kicks off an ambitious 24-event schedule at the 4/10-mile dirt track off Interstate 81 in Bulls Gap.

Tri-Cities area drivers will look to return to the top of the weekly standings after a year when Knoxville area drivers swept season titles.

Defending track champions at Volunteer Speedway are: Jason Cardwell of Knoxville (Steel Head Late Model), Heath Alvey of Dandridge (Sportsman Late Model), Ross White of Dandridge (Crate Late Model), Chris Rickett of Morristown (Modified Street) and Eli Keck of Corryton (Classic).

BIG EVENTS AHEAD

The 'Frostbuster" is the first of a number of high-profile races at Volunteer Speedway this season. Other events include the Lucas Oil Late Model Series "Spring Thaw" on March 22, the "Scott Sexton Memorial" on April 14, the World of Outlaws Late Model Series on June 2, the Southern Nationals Series on July 16, the "Scorcher" on Aug. 16 and the Labor Day Classic on Sept. 1.

The season concludes on Nov. 3 with the Tennessee Crate Nationals.

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