Muddy Creek Raceway will host the biggest event in its history, the Built Ford Tough Tennessee National, part of the Lucas Oil Pro Motorcross Championship, on Saturday.
It’s the first time in nearly two decades an AMA outdoor national event will be held in the Southeast. The last time the AMA Motocross Championship visited Tennessee was in 1977 in Nashville.
“We have been producing championship events at Muddy Creek Raceway since the late 1970s, and this is a great accomplishment to bring a pro national to town,” Victory Sports president Sam Gammon said. “Our riders and fans are really excited about finally being rewarded with a pro national in the Southeast.”
Friday is an open practice day, with Saturday action to begin with a practice at 8:30 a.m. The 450 consolation race is set for 11:40 a.m. with the 250 consolation race to be held at noon.
Opening ceremonies take place at 12:40 p.m., and the first motos for the 450 and 250 classes will be broadcast live on NBC. The second motos will be shown live on the Fuel Network with action to wrap up around 5 p.m.
Once the national tour leaves, Sunday action will feature top amateur riders around the region in the Thor Ultra and Mega Series.
Some of the riders expected in Saturday’s race are former champions Ryan Dungey, Ryan Villopoto, Chad Reed and James “Bubba” Stewart. Additionally, NASCAR powerhouse Joe Gibbs Racing and its JGRMX squad led by Josh Grant and Justin Brayton will be among the favorites.
It is a return home for Abingdon, Va., native Zach Osborne, who grew up racing at Muddy Creek but has been racing overseas in Austrailia and Europe for the past five years. Coming off his first podium finish this past weekend in Colorado, Osborne will be racing as part of the GEICO Honda team.
Advance tickets for the event can be purchased at Jim’s Motorcycle Sales apparel store on West Market Street. The KTM team, including Dungey, is scheduled for an autograph appearance at Jim’s Yamaha, Kawasaki and KTM store on Friday from 6-7 p.m.
One person notably absent this weekend is KTM rider and hometown hero Mike Brown, who will be racing in the Baja 500.
It’s another event which shows the versatility of the Johnson City rider, who won a second X Games gold medal at Barcelona, Spain on May 18. The race was broadcast as part of the X Games coverage this past Sunday on ABC.
Brown, 41, continues to outpace his younger foes, scoring his first ever GEICO EnduroCross Series victory earlier this month in Las Vegas.
In both cases, Brown had to defeat Taddy Blazusiak, whom ESPN referred to as the best all-around, off-road rider on the planet. A strong argument can be made for that title to be given to Brown, who got caught up in a rock obstacle at the end of the 10-lap race in Barcelona, but broke free just in time to beat fellow American Colton Haaker. Brown had a big lead up to that point, fending off a challenge from Blazusiak earlier in the race.
The Baja 500 is an endurance race through the Mexican desert, and one in which Brown has experience. As part of the KTM factory team, he finished third last year despite teammate Ivan Ramirez suffering a violent crash which sent him over the handbars and caused major damage to the bike.
Daniel Pope II of Smyrna made his weekly five-hour trip to Kingsport Speedway worthwhile this past Friday night, winning his first Late Model Stock feature of the season.
Pope passed polesitter Paul Nogradi Jr. of Clinton for the lead on lap 47 and raced on to the win. Virginia driver Kres VanDyke finished third.
Johnson City driver Zeke Shell set the fast time in qualifying with a lap at 15.122 seconds, but started fifth after an inversion of the top five spots. He finished fourth, one spot ahead of points leader Chad Finchum of Knoxville.
Others finishers in the Late Model race included Daniel Boone High School student Tyler Goodwin in ninth, Mike Potter of Johnson City in 14th and Joey Trent of Gray in 19th.
Brandon Sutherland of Johnson City won for the third time this season in the Rookie Pure 4 division, and Jacob Owens of Bean Station scored his fourth Legends car victory. In other preliminary classes, Nick Cole of Bristol outdueled Jared Broadbent of Spruce Pine, N.C., to win the 30-lap Street Stock feature, and John Ketron held off Keith Helton in a battle of Kingsport drivers for the Pure 4 victory.
Another night of NASCAR All-American Series weekly racing is on tap for Friday night. Volunteer Speedway will host the Southern All-Star Racing Series with a $5,200-to-win Scott Sexton Memorial for the Super Late Models.
There will be qualifying and heat races before a 52-lap main event. Sexton, who died in January at the age of 46, was noted for driving the No. 52 car. He was the 1995 track champion at Volunteer Speedway.