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NASCAR/Racing

Petty to make promotional visit to Gray

October 23rd, 2012 8:08 pm by Jeff Birchfield

Racing royalty is coming to Food City in Gray.
Richard Petty, the king of stock car racing, will be at the store making a promotional appearance on Thursday from 3-5 p.m. It’s a reward for Food City store No. 670, which raised the most money for the Mission: Able Campaign that benefits Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Petty, who holds several major NASCAR records including the most career wins (200), most wins in a season (27) and most career poles (136), is a spokesperson and representative for the charity organization.
The seven-time Cup Series champion, who turned 75 earlier this year, remains active in the sport as a car owner. Richard Petty Motorsports driver Marcos Ambrose won earlier this season at Watkins Glen, and the team’s other Cup Series driver, Aric Almirola, led 69 laps this past Sunday at Kansas before crashing because of a blown right front tire.
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With a combined seven Sprint Cup Series championships, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are recognized as two of NASCAR’s greatest drivers.
Don’t look for either one of them to add another championship this season.
With four races left in NASCAR’s “Chase for the Championship,” Gordon is 51 points behind leader Brad Keselowski in the driver standings. Stewart, the defending series champion, is only four points ahead of Gordon.
Also, go ahead and count out Martin Truex Jr., who is 43 points down.
With Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. all farther behind in the standings, it leaves just five drivers with a legitimate shot of winning this season’s championship.
Keselowski is obviously in the driver’s seat, holding the lead since the opening race of the Chase. However, the favorite to many remains Jimmie Johnson. The five-time Sprint Cup champion is just seven points outside the lead. He didn’t lose any ground to Keselowski this past Sunday at Kansas despite spinning out.
Denny Hamlin, the pick among many entering the Chase, is third at 20 points out of the lead. The good news for he and Johnson is Martinsville comes up Sunday.
It’s a track where Hamlin has four wins in 14 races, and Johnson has six wins in 21 races. They’ve both averaged around a sixth-place finish, while Keselowski has a 13.4 average finish.
If it played out that way Sunday, the race for the championship would be a dead heat leaving Martinsville.
Behind the top three, Clint Bowyer looks to be the most serious threat, with top-10 finishes in all the Chase races besides Talladega.
At this point, Kasey Kahne still has to be listed a contender. Kahne won the pole at Martinsville back in the spring, but finished 38th after engine problems. Overall, the flat paper-clip-shaped short track is Kahne’s worst track in the Chase. He has an average finish of 22nd place in 17 previous races.
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Jacob Hayes of Greensboro, N.C., swept both 250 and 450 Pro races at the 25th annual Top Gun Showdown this past Sunday at Muddy Creek Raceway.
The KTM rider won all four of his Sunday motos. He defeated the Suzuki of Monster Energy Cup competitor Jace Owen in the 250 Pro race. Another Suzuki rider Austin Albers, a former winner at the Loretta Lynn National Championships, was runner-up to Hayes in the 450 Pro race.
In the other featured classes, Silas Lamons of Bulls Gap won the ATV Expert race, while Brittney Endsley, an 18-year-old from Las Vegas who now lives in Maryville, won the Women’s Division race.
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East Tennessee drivers dominated this past Saturday night’s Dirt Track World Championship at Portsmouth (Ohio) Raceway Park.
Jimmy Owens took the lead from defending race winner, Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., on lap two of the 100-lap feature. The 40-year-old Newport driver led the rest of the way to capture the $50,000-to-win race.
Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg battled past O’Neal to capture second place, with O’Neal finishing third out of 27 drivers.
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After weeks of scheduling conflicts, Volunteer Speedway officially called an end to its 2012 racing season.
Drivers from the Johnson City area took four of the top-five spots in the featured Pro Late Model division. Dale Ball of Johnson City won his fourth Pro Late Model championship and fifth track championship overall.
Ricky Moore of Greeneville was the runner-up in the Pro standings, followed by Washington County drivers Tim Byrd, Tim Maupin and Jerry Broyles.
Other track champions were: Jamie Whitt of Wise, Va., in the Modified Hobby division and Jeff Akard of Meadowview, Va., in the Open Wheel Modified division.

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