Race fans have a choice tonight.
Two days before the IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, they have the option of either attending the area’s biggest dirt track race of the year at Volunteer Speedway or they can see some of NASCAR’s top personalities at Food City Family Race Night in Bristol.
Trevor Bayne, 2011 Daytona 500 winner, will be at both events.
He’s making an early appearance at Food City Race Night and then will head down to Bulls Gap to race in the $10,000-to-win ‘Scorcher’ for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
Others scheduled to compete include previous Scorcher winners: Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Chris Madden of Gray’s Court, S.C., and three-time race champion Jimmy Owens of Newport.
The racing program will be headlined by the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series complete with Time Trials, Heat Races, B-Mains, and the 50-lap, $10,000-to-win main event. There will also be a 25-lap feature for the Modified Hobby class.
There will be plenty of on-stage activities at Food City Race Night, highlighted by longtime Sprint Cup car owner Richard Childress being honored.
The master of ceremonies is Larry McReynolds, the former crew chief for Childress who led Dale Earnhardt to his 1998 Daytona 500 victory, and who now serves as a television analyst.
NASCAR President Mike Helton will also be making an appearaance on-stage as will the sport’s all-time winningest driver Richard Petty, who will be making a special check presentation to the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Sprint Cup racers Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton headline the driver appearances.
Elliott Sadler, the current Nationwide Series points leader, will also be signing autographs, as will his brother Hermie, a former Nationwide Series driver and current television analyst for the Speed network.
Several local racers, past and current will make appearances. They include Johnson City’s Gary Potter and Brownie King, who will have a vintage 1958 Chevrolet which King raced at the Daytona 500 on display. Johnson City’s Zeke Shell, who recently finished second in the Kingsport Speedway point standings, will also be on hand.
NASCAR handed out a $100,000 penalty and a six-week suspension to crew chief Slugger Labbe for what they described as intentionally modifying frame rails for the purpose of deceiving NASCAR’s inspection gauges this past weekend at Michigan.
Driver Paul Menard and team owner Richard Childress were penalized with the loss of 25 championship driver and owner points, respectively.
The penalty drops Menard to 16th in the driver standings and was likely a crushing blow to his hopes of making the ‘Chase for the Championship’ playoffs with only three races to go.
Labbe, car chief Craig Smokstad and crew member Grant Hutchens were each suspended until Oct. 3 and placed on probation until Dec. 31.
Teams will be under the gun this weekend as most of them take their first laps around Bristol Motor Speedway since the top groove of the track was grinding down following the Food City 500 in March.
Jeff Burton was one of three drivers, along with Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer, who tested at Bristol in June. Burton, who will be making his 38th career Sprint Cup start at Bristol, said one constant remains at the ‘World’s Fastest Half-Mile,’ no matter what the racing surface is like.
“This is a test of where your race team is and how tough you are as a competitor,” he said. “This place isn’t built for lightweights. This place is built for high-intensity, competitive people. You’re not going to run up front here if you don’t have an intensity level to you. I consider this to be one of the ultimate tests as a race team.”
Cale Gale, who made a special appearance at Lake Ridge Elementary School last week, won the pole for Wednesday’s UNOH 200 Camping World Truck Series race with a lap at 15.656 seconds (122.560 mph). Truck Series points leader Timothy Peters had the second-fastest lap at 15.716 (122.092).
Several sponsor promotions are taking place this weekend including the “Choose Tony’s Ride with Mobil 1” program.
Fans choose which non-traditional vehicle the reigning Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart will drive in a special exhibition at Charlotte Motor Speedway next Tuesday.
They will choose between a World War II-ear M36 GMC Jackson Tank and a Formula Drift Chevy Camaro SS. On-line voting ends Monday.