After enduring criticism for how late its racing program had run the previous two weeks at the 3/8-mile concrete oval, the track’s schedule was right on time. Making it more impressive, it came despite a 20-minute delay for a brief rain shower.
General manager Karen Tunnell has done a solid job promoting the track and the result has been great car counts and increased fan interest. The success created some new challenges, and in fairness to speedway staff, they had to deal with a pair of long red-flag stoppages the previous Friday night.
But, they made a concerted effort to be more time-efficient Friday night and they accomplished their goals. The only major delay was at the end of the evening, when Trey Bayne’s car slammed hard into the metal gate at turn one in a crash so severe that it actually broke the gate and made it unsafe to continue racing.
The speedway has a winning formula with all the action, great side-by-side racing and good competition throughout its divisions. For the late models, they’ve had four different winners — Kres VanDyke, Derrick Lancaster, Wayne Hale and Zeke Shell — over the first four weeks of the season.
It’s the kind of action that draws great interest, and with the track staff working hard to make it a well-run program, it’s a great way to kick off the weekend if you like grassroots, short track racing.
Another week of racing in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program is scheduled again for this Friday night before the track takes the following week off when Bristol Motor Speedway hosts the Short Track U.S. Nationals.
Knoxville-area drivers continue to dominate on Volunteer Speedway’s 4/10-mile clay oval, although a trio of Washington County racers appear to be gaining ground with their performances in the Crate Late Model race.
Trevor Sise of Knoxville held off Jason Welshan of Maryville and Josh Henry of Newport for the win, but Tim Byrd of Jonesborough ran fourth after battling Henry earlier in the race.
Bobby Mays of Jonesborough was seventh after running in the top five for most of the race. Tim Maupin of Johnson City overcame having to start at the back of the field due to a flat tire right before the green flag to charge from 21st to 11th in the 25-lap race.
Cory Hedgecock of Loudon led flag-to-flag in the 25-lap Steel Head Late Model feature. Other winners included Heath Alvey of Dandridge in Sportsman Late Model, Brad Davis of Tazewell in Modified Street and Lee Merritt of Knoxville in Classic.
Surgoinsville driver Shon Flanary hit a milestone in the Open Wheel Modified race. He led all 20 laps, rolling to a win over second place Wayne James for his 100th career win.
DOWN AT THE DRAG STRIPS
The popular Street Fights program comes to Bristol Dragway this Saturday night with gates opening at 5 p.m. and racing to begin at 6.
Cherokee Raceway Park in Rogersville has its third points race of the year featuring the IHRA Summit SuperSeries scheduled for Saturday.