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Championship races at Bristol, Bulls Gap; showdown at Muddy Creek on tap

Jeff Birchfield • Oct 8, 2019 at 3:08 PM

It’s quite a variety of racing action in the Tri-Cities this weekend: Semi-trucks powering around Bristol’s high-banked short track, dirt late models sliding around Bulls Gap’s red-clay oval and motorcycles flying through the air in Blountville.

The Bandit Big Rig Series will crown its season champion at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon. “Coca-Cola Night at Volunteer Speedway,” which will be the final championship points race at the Bulls Gap dirt track, is scheduled for Saturday night.

The 32nd annual Suzuki Top Gun Showdown, the biggest race of the year at Muddy Creek Raceway, takes place throughout the weekend with the main event on Sunday.

BIG RIG SERIES AT BRISTOL

The inaugural Bandit Bristol Battle takes place Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Billed as showcasing the world’s fastest semi-trucks rumbling around the iconic high-banked half-mile, it is the final race of the 2019 Bandit Big Rig Series schedule.

Two-time defending champion Ricky “Rude” Proffitt holds a 13-point lead over Mark Noble. Marshall Davis and Allen Boles still have a mathematical chance, each within 100 points of the leader.

Gates open at 11 a.m. and fans can meet the drivers on the backstretch from 1-3 p.m. Starting time for the race is 3:30 p.m.

The first 2,500 kids will receive a Bandit drawstring bag with a coloring book. There will also be a Little Bandits Big Wheel race on the track.

Tickets are $15 for adults with kids 8-and-under admitted free.

VOLUNTEER CHAMPIONSHIP NIGHT

“Coca-Cola Night at Volunteer Speedway” features a winner-take-all battle for the Crate Late Model title. Jonesborough’s Tim Byrd leads Johnson City’s Tim Maupin by just one point in the championship standings at the 4/10-mile Bulls Gap dirt track.

In case of a tie in points, Byrd would win his fourth track title as he holds a 5-1 advantage in wins this season. It’s a classic showdown with two iconic NASCAR numbers. Byrd drives the blue No. 24 Chevrolet and Maupin pilots the black No. 3 Chevrolet. Maupin is looking for his second Volunteer Speedway championship.

Chris Coffey (Sportsman Late Model) and Wayne Rader (Modified Street) lead their respective divisions, while John Stevens (Classic), Jason Rollins (Street Stock) and Chad Manning (Mini Stock) have clinched their titles.

Grandstands open at 5 p.m. with hot laps at 6:30 p.m. followed by qualifying and racing at 8 p.m.

SUZUKI TOP GUN SHOWDOWN

With the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series leaving Muddy Creek Raceway in 2018, the Suzuki Top Gun Showdown reclaimed its place as the track’s biggest event of the year. Last year’s race featured top riders from the United States and abroad.

Jyire Mitchell, a rider from Devonshire, Bermuda, won last year’s 250 Pro race over Indiana rider Ezra Hastings and North Carolina rider Luke Neese.

Kyle Bitterman, the South Carolina rider, didn’t win either of his motos in the 450 Pro race, but captured the overall title with a pair of runner-up finishes. Georgia rider Kobe Heffner and Neese won the individual motos.

Expect another great lineup of top riders. Friday is a practice day starting at 10 a.m. Saturday features practice at 8 a.m. and the Mega Series. There is even a $50-to-win chili cookout on Saturday evening.

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