Brown takes Top Gun Showdown 250 victory

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Oct 8, 2017 at 6:58 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Mike Brown has been a champion on the national and international scene.

On Sunday, the 45-year-old Johnson City racer returned home to sweep both motos in the 250 Pro class at the 30th annual Suzuki Top Gun Showdown at Muddy Creek Raceway. Brown also finished third in the 450 class behind race winner Kobe Heffner.

Brown, rider of the No. 3 Husqvarna machine, said there really is no place like home.

“It’s always great to be back home,” said Brown. “This is where I grew up racing. The first race I ever ran was here. It was a good weekend.”

Brown finished runner-up to Heffner, a 17-year-old from Georgia, in the first 450 moto. The veteran rider was aggressive in the second moto, but fell down on a track that truly was muddy thanks to a steady rain throughout the day. He was in fifth-place once he got off the ground, but soon worked his way back up to third.

“I was trying a little too hard there,” Brown said. “I was trying to make a pass, but that’s part of it. I knew if I could get in the lead, I would get less mud. I tried a little too early. I think it would have been a good race if I hadn’t had slid out there too early. But, that’s part of racing.”

It allowed Heffner, who finished third in the 250 race, to take advantage in the 450 division.

Heffner, who plans on racing the East Coast Supercross series next season, said the key to his 450 wins were the holeshots, followed by staying smooth and keeping his KTM bike upright.

“I just got out there, got good starts and rode smart,” Heffner said. “I put in some good solid first laps and put it on cruise control from there. To finish ahead of Mike Brown, that was an awesome experience. He’s still killing it out there and he’s crazy fast.”

Kyle Bitterman, a 24-year-old Kawasaki rider from South Carolina, finished second in both classes. Despite competing against riders from as far flung places as Minnesota to Florida, he wasn’t happy about the runner-up finishes.

“It sucks to be the first loser,” Bitterman said. “We put our all into this weekend. The track was so slick and if you tried to override the bike, you were going to make a bobble and fall. The smoother and calmer you are, the faster you go. But when you’re running second, you don’t want to be calm. You want to get around them.”

Bitterman talked about the respect he had for Brown, his racing hero when he was younger.

“Mike Brown is such a legend in this sport, one of the greatest,” Bitterman said. “I looked up to him when I was growing up and it’s amazing now to race with him. To still do what he does, it just blows my mind. I hope when I’m his age, I can do just half of what he’s doing.”

The return home is temporary for Brown, who won multiple divisions at the Loretta Lynn Outdoor Nationals earlier this year.

Next week, he heads off to California to race and then goes on to Sweden for an off-road race, before coming back to California and eventually winding up his schedule with some Arena Cross races.

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