Don’t get the wrong idea, the drivers were still in full uniform. The roofs of their cars were removed for the Crate Late Model feature, which gave fans a great perspective to look inside the cockpit and see the driver’s hands working the steering wheel throughout the race.
Several of the cars either had pink on some part of the car with many displaying the pink Breast Cancer Awareness ribbon.
The race was dominated by Shannon Buckingham of Morristown, who led flag-to-flag to win the 25-lap feature. Rusty Ballenger was second with Cory Hedgecock third.
Maupin of Johnson City was the highest finisher among the Washington County racers in sixth. For the season, Maupin finished fifth in the points, although the former track champion failed to win a race as he was trying to figure out a new car.
“We ended up decent in the points,” Maupin said. “This was a new car and we were working with it. We finally were getting it dialed-in, but it was a day late and a dollar short.”
Trevor Sise of Knoxville was the track champion, followed by Ballenger and Gary Crittenden. Maupin talked about the competitiveness of the division on a week-to-week basis. His team’s set-up problems centered around the shock package.
“This Crate class isn’t any slouch,” he said. “These boys are going fast and everyone is competitive. We chased the shocks all year long until we stopped doing what everyone else was telling us and started doing what we knew was right. We figured it out and made headway.”
Byrd also battled with new-car issues. Still, he got it turned around mid-season and won three races. He struggled on Sunday, however, qualifying 16th in the 19-car field before working his way up to a 12th-place finish.
“The battles with the new car, it took us a while to get it dialed in,” Byrd said. “We hadn’t run worse than third until Sunday. We just weren’t hooked to the race track.”
The speedway offered some different challenges on Sunday as the racing surface wasn’t wet and tacky. Instead, the racing in the daytime provided a slick surface the racers said was like driving on ice. It’s a combination that Byrd normally likes.
When he looked back at his season, he won the three races and finished fourth in points, a good year for most. But as a three-time track champion, he wanted even more.
“We expected a little more, but we’re fortunate with what we did,” Byrd said. “That’s racing — you have to get with it every day.”
Hughes was happy just to be back behind the wheel. He had a cyst removed from his head in May 2017 and missed all of last season. He finally came back in July of this season and held off Byrd to finish 11th on Sunday.
“I loved it today,” Hughes said. “The car was running good until it started pushing towards the last of the race. The track was slick as ice, but that makes it fun as a driver. With all going on, I didn’t get to run any last year. To come back in July for the first race, it’s more than just racing. Coming out here, everyone here is like family.”
Other Sunday winners were Clyde Stanton of Knoxville with his first-ever Sportsman Late Model victory, Wayne Rader of Russellville in Modified Street, Billy Palmer of Knoxville in Open Wheel Modified, Josh Driskell of Newport in Street Stock and John Stevens of Wallins Creek, Kentucky, in Classic.
Volunteer Speedway’s season will conclude with a non-points race, the $3,000-to-win Tennessee Crate Late Model Nationals, on Saturday, Nov. 3. Besides the main event, features are scheduled for the Sportsman Late Model, Open Wheel Modified, Sportsman Late Model and Classic divisions.
FORD TAKES GEORGIA TITLE
Another member of the local dirt racing family, Jensen Ford of Jonesborough, won the Georgia State Championship race at Lavonia Speedway on Sunday.
Ford, who won three races at Volunteer Speedway this season, didn’t race for the track championship, opting instead to race in some touring series events and other special events like Sunday’s $2,000-to-win feature race.
MONSTER TIME AT BRISTOL
The Metro by T-Mobile Halloween Monster Truck Mash is coming to Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday.
The event features eight Monster Trucks in racing and freestyle competition, two 25-lap races for the Bandit Big Rig Series as well as an assortment of jet-powered machines, including a jet car, a jet Polaris and a jet outhouse.
Gates open at 1 p.m. with a meet-and-greet with the drivers and trick-or-treating for the kids. Fans can also purchase rides in the Sasquatch Monster Truck Bus for just $10. The show starts at 3 p.m.
Tickets to the event are $20 for adults ($25 the day of the event) and tickets for kids 12-and-under are just $5.