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Byrd captures fourth Volunteer Speedway championship

Jeff Birchfield • Oct 16, 2019 at 12:00 PM

Tim Byrd was flying high Saturday night at Volunteer Speedway.

The Jonesborough driver finished third in the Crate Late Model feature to wrap up his fourth championship at the 4/10-mile Bulls Gap dirt track. Byrd came into Saturday’s race one point ahead of Johnson City driver Tim Maupin in the championship standings. Byrd, in the blue No. 24 Chevrolet, finished one spot ahead of Maupin, in the black No. 3 Chevrolet, to win the hotly contested championship.

“It means a lot to me. We’ve had four championships and two second-place (finishes) in the championship,” Byrd said. “We’ve had a fantastic year, was on the pole 11 times and the front row 15 times. The whole crew has really performed good this year. We’ve worked our tails off and it was a battle right to the end.”

Byrd, who parlayed those strong starts into five wins and 10 top-five finishes over the season, jumped out to the race lead at the start. Knoxville driver Zach Sise passed Byrd for the lead on lap 5 and soon pulled away. Virginia driver Tyler Arrington got around Byrd for second on lap 20, leaving no one between the championship contenders.

Byrd held on to finish ahead of Maupin, who led the points most of the summer.

“We ran well towards the end of the season,” said Maupin, the 2014 track champion. “We’re racing a smaller motor than some of the guys and your car has to be perfect to run with them. They have a larger margin for error.

“I’m tickled to death with where we finished. If we hadn’t had a couple of bad finishes, it wouldn’t have been a race for the championship. But we had our share of bad luck like everybody else.”

Sise held off Arrington over the 30-lap feature for the race victory. Gary Crittenden finished behind Byrd and Maupin to round out the top five.

Aaron Guinn of Russellville won for the fifth time in five starts in Sportsman Late Model. Adam Mitchell and Jody Horton took the second and third spots. Chris Coffey, a two-time winner who finished fifth, wrapped up the season championship.

Chris Rickett of Morristown outdueled Parrottsville’s Wayne Rader to get his first win of the season in Modified Street. Rader, a four-time winner in 2019, captured the track championship.

Kentucky drivers John Stevens in Classic and Hayden Collett in Mini Stock picked up victories. It was the 13th win in 16 races for Stevens. Shane Taylor was second and Collett finished third. Collett got his first-ever win in the Mini Stock race after passing Tyler Meadows for the lead on lap 13. Chad Manning used a consistent effort of one win and 14 top-five finishes to take the division championship.

Tony Trent won his third Street Stock feature, outrunning Jason Rollins of Parrottsville, who wrapped up the championship. In the new Front Wheel Drive division, Jacob Sharp won for a second straight week, leading flag-to-flag. Kingsport Speedway regular Josh Detwiler finished second.

While the championships have been settled, there are two more Saturdays of racing scheduled at Volunteer Speedway.

SUZUKI TOP GUN SHOWDOWN

Former AMA national champion Mike Brown was back home to race in the 32nd annual Suzuki Top Gun Showdown and the veteran rider posted a win and three runner-up finishes.

Brown, a Johnson City native now living in Bristol, finished second to North Carolina rider Luke Neese in the Cody Gragg Memorial 2-stroke race. Both were on Yamahas, while Brown finished second to another Yamaha rider Nick Gaines from Georgia in the 250 Pro race.

Michigan rider Marshal Weltin on a KTM won the 450 Pro race. Brown was second, while Johnson City’s Adam Britt was fourth and Kingsport’s Logan McConnell was sixth. McConnell was the winner in the Collegeboy division.

Brown scored a win in the 40+ division, beating Kingsport veteran Kevin Walker in both motos. Walker turned around and won the 45+ division race. Tyler Orfield of Johnson City bested Tim Calhoun of Fall Branch in the VetMX Warrior Class.

Other local winners included: Carson Eads of Kingsport in two classes, Dawson Ball of Kingsport (250D), Lane Milhorn of Watauga (51cc, Beginner), Alex Colley of Kingsport (85cc D), Haley Ball of Kingsport (85cc, 9-15), Michael Lambert of Gray (Unlimited C/D) and Alton Clark of Johnson City (ATV Novice).

Brandon Belcher of Johnson City (25+), Will Andrews of Hampton (Schoolboy 2) and Ethan Gillis of Limestone (ATV Novice) posted second-place finishes.

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