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Sports Sports Columns Jeff Birchfield NASCAR/Racing

Spring race already the talk at BMS

August 19th, 2014 9:55 pm by Jeff Birchfield

Spring race already the talk at BMS

Today’s doubleheader at Bristol Motor Speedway kicks off the region’s biggest racing weekend of the year, although much of the focus is already on next spring.

It has been reported the Food City 500 will move from its March date until April 19 next year. The spring race has been plagued with cold and rainy weather in recent years and BMS officials have lobbied hard for a date change. 

None of BMS officials would confirm the reported change and NASCAR is yet to release the official schedule. It is expected to be released soon, maybe even this weekend.

As for today at BMS, there will be on-track action all day long. It starts at 8:30 a.m. with practice for the Bush’s Beans 150 Whelen Modified Series race. The program goes until well into the night with a concert by country music superstar Dierks Bentley scheduled for 10:45 p.m. after the conclusion of the UNOH 200 Camping World Truck Series race.

Among the day’s highlights, Truck Series qualifying is set for 4:40 p.m. The Bush’s Beans 150 is set to begin at 6:15 p.m. with the UNOH 200 to run at 8:30 p.m.

Thursday is a low key, but busy day at the track with a pair of practices for the Food City 300 Nationwide Series during the afternoon. Later, there are ride-alongs for the Richard Petty Driving Experience, the Night Race 5K running race and the transporter parade which goes from Food City Race Night in downtown Bristol to the speedway.

Friday features qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, as well as the Food City 300. It leads into Saturday’s main event, the IRWIN Tools Night Race 

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For those itching to see some dirt-track racing, Volunteer Speedway hosts the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series for the $10,000-to-win Scorcher on Thursday night.

The program is headlined by a 50-lap feature. There will also be time trials, heat races and a 25-lap feature for the Modified Hobby Division.

Former NASCAR champion Bill Elliott as well as current Sprint Cup drivers Kasey Kahne, Trevor Bayne, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon are some of the drivers who have raced at the  4/10-mile dirt track in Bulls Gap.

Several former Scorcher champions are scheduled to compete including “The Newport Nightmare” Jimmy Owens, a three-time winner, and Mooresburg’s Scott Bloomquist, a two-time winner.

Grandstands open at 5 p.m. with on-track action set to begin around 7:45 p.m.

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Defending track champion Chad Finchum swept Late Model Stock features at Kingsport Speedway last Friday night.

In fact, the top three finishers were the same for both late model races.

Finchum, a Knoxville driver, was out front in the No. 19 Ford, while Lee Tissot of Asheville captured a pair of runner-up finishes. Current track points leader Kres VanDyke of Claypool Hill, Va., moved closer to his first championship with a pair of third-place finishes.

Behind them, Johnson City’s Zeke Shell finished fourth in his No. 97 Ford in the first race and followed it up with a sixth-place finish in the nightcap.

John Harrell of Surgoinsville beat Jared Broadbent of Spruce Pine, N.C., to win in the Street Stock division. Billy Ketron of Kingsport topped the Pure 4 division and Rusty Clendenin of Church Hill was the winner in Rookie Pure 4. Virginia driver Duke Bare took top honors in the Pure Street division.

Kingsport Speedway will be off this Friday night with the races at nearby Bristol. Many of the track’s drivers, however, are participating in the Food City Race Nights at Knoxville and Bristol.

The next night of racing at the 1/3-mile concrete oval is scheduled for Friday, August 29.

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Nick Dunbar of Limestone won the 450D class and added two runner-up finishes at the last Saturday’s Hot Summer Nights Supercross Series event at I-81 Motorsports Park.

Will Andrews of Hampton and Parker Hughes of Elizabethton each scored one win and one runner-up finish. 

Bob Mashburn of Jonesborough was runner-up in the 35+ Division and Jesse Wilson of Gray finished second in the 85cc Beginner class.

Chris Furches of Jonesborough won the ATV Youth division. A trio of Bakersville, North Carolina riders — Ryan Hoyle, Justin Ricker and Eric Hollifield — won the other ATV classes.

The Hot Summer Nights Series returns to I-81 Motorsports Park on Saturday, Aug. 30

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