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Local drivers score big

April 9th, 2013 7:27 pm by Jeff Birchfield

A pair of Washington County drivers captured big victories at local tracks this past weekend.
Tim Byrd of Jonesborough won the “Walter Ball Memorial 40” at Volunteer Speedway on Saturday night, just one night after Johnson City’s Zeke Shell scored his first NASCAR All-American Series win of the season on Kingsport Speedway.
Byrd, the son of former 6-cylinder track champion Charlie Byrd, set the fast time in qualifying at the 4/10-mile dirt track and quickly jumped out to a lead over John Tweed.
Tim Maupin of Johnson City passed Tweed for second place on lap 26. Byrd held a full straightaway advantage over Maupin over the final 14 laps.
“Man, words just cannot describe what an awesome feeling this is to finally win my first race,” said Byrd to track publicist Robert Walden. “It’s such a great feeling to be able to finally say I’ve won a race at Volunteer Speedway. This place is so rich in history, just look at all the big names in dirt late model racing that have won races here.
“I’ve been coming to this track since I was a boy when dad raced here, and now I can say he and I both have visited victory lane at ‘The Gap.’ This win is really special for both dad and myself. He’s the reason I’m living out my dream to race. I’m just thankful for all the support I have from my mom and dad, along with my wife and daughters and my crew chief Mark Hamby.”
Tweed finished third with Teddy Tate and John Cobb rounding out the top five.
Dale Ball, the five-time track champion from Johnson City, finished seventh.
Eddie Morris of Gray won the pole and led all 25 laps of the Modified Hobby feature. Mike Clevenger of Kingsport passed pole sitter Blake Terry on the opening lap of the Open Wheel Modified feature and raced on to the victory. Brad Dyer of Mohawk scored the win in the Mini Stock division.
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Shell passed Knoxville driver Chad Finchum on lap 45 of Kingsport’s 60-lap Late Model Stock feature and rolled on the win.
Afterwards, Shell talked about all the work that went into fixing the No. 97 Ford after it was heavily damaged at Kingsport the previous week.
“We spent many hours back in the race shop this week getting the car fixed,” Shell said. “But getting this win, along with the trophy and winner’s sticker, that’s what it’s all about. It definitely makes all of our hard work worthwhile.”
Shell was like Byrd thinking of his father after the win.
“I couldn’t do this (racing) without my dad (Pat Shell) on my side,” he said. “We started out many years ago racing go-karts, and now with this win we can say we’ve won at least one race each season since Kingsport Speedway opened back up for full-time racing in 2011. Hopefully this will be just the first of several trips to victory lane this season.”
Hayden Woods, a 17-year-old Providence Academy student, set a new track record in qualifying. He lowered the time from 15.060 seconds to 15.031 seconds.
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Josh Reece of Elizabethton and Mark Crowe of Butler were among the winners in the DER Bracket Series at Bristol Dragway last Saturday.
Reece rode a 1977 Kawasaki to a close victory over Bluff City’s Jerry Turner in the Motorcycle final. Crowe won the Trophy division title.
Other winners included: Chris Johnson of Maryville in Super Pro, Randy Walters of Bluff City in Pro and John Isom of Bristol in Sportsman. Junior Dragster wins went to Joseph Denton of Bristol in Division 1 and Taylor Dunahoo of Roanoke in Division 2.
The second round of “Street Fights” at Bristol Dragway is scheduled for Thursday night. The DER Bracket Series will be racing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday..
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Round 3 of the Thor Mega Series took place last Saturday at Muddy Creek Raceway with several from the Johnson City area among the top finishers.
Adam Britt of Johnson City was runner-up in the 250 Pro division. Lindsey Britt of Johnson City and Chelsea Taylor of Elizabethton finished second and third, respectively in the women’s 250 class.
Brandon Koen of Johnson City won in 250D class and Jacob Austin of Jonesborough was second in 250C. Justin Lewis of Hampton took 25+ Amateur honors.
Johnson City riders Tyler Orfield and Hunter Hobbs were 1-2 in the Schoolboy class. Hobbs took top honors in the 125cc Amateur class, and Bailey Wilson of Gray was the winner in the 85cc division.

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