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Sise, Courtney capture wins in long night at Volunteer

Jeff Birchfield • Updated May 24, 2020 at 12:43 PM

BULLS GAP — Trevor Sise and Kyle Courtney took top honors in Volunteer Speedway’s season-opening doubleheader for the American Crate All-Stars Series and Topless Outlaws as racing extended through Friday night until the sun came up Saturday morning.

A big crowd in the stands and a massive car count of 143 competitors turned out for the first live sporting event in Northeast Tennessee since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the big numbers, two rain delays and three red-flag stoppages, the final race for the support classes at the 4/10-mile dirt track didn’t end until 6:20 a.m. Saturday morning.

Sise, a Knoxville driver in the No. 73 Chevrolet, took top honors in the American Crate All-Star Series “Mayhem in the Mountains” race, which featured 49 entries before it was whittled down to a 24-car main event through qualifying and heat races.

Cory Hedgecock from Loudon finished in second with Jonesborough racer Jensen Ford taking the third spot. Ford set fast time in qualifying, rocketing his No. 83 Chevrolet around the track in 13.062 seconds.

Hedgecock edged Ford to win a Quick-Six race before the A-Main feature. Brandon Williams finished third, ahead of Sise and Jeff Neubert.

Johnson City’s Tim Maupin, a former Volunteer Speedway track champion, also transferred to the main event after finishing second to Bradley Lewelling in the first of four heat races. Maupin got caught up in an early accident, spoiling his night.

Eli Beets, Shannon Emery and Michael Bland were the winners of other heat races. It was the season opener for the American Crate All-Star Series, which is scheduled to return to Volunteer Speedway for races on July 4 and Sept. 4.

Courtney, nicknamed “Quick Kid,” passed Hedgecock with five laps to go to capture the Topless Outlaws feature. Courtney, a Knoxville driver, showcased his driving skills by rallying from a 13th-place starting spot to take the victory in the $2,500-to-win main event.

Hedgecock held on for his second runner-up finish of the night. Austin Neely rounded out the podium finishers. There were 29 entries in the Topless division before qualifying and heat races set the field for a 24-car feature race.

ANOTHER NIGHTMARE FINISH

Jimmy Owens, nicknamed the “Newport Nightmare,” continued his torrid pace on the dirt tracks, winning his third major race in a week Tuesday night in Brunswick, Georgia.

Owens passed Brandon Overton on the 32nd lap of a 40-lap feature to win the Lucas Oil Series Optima Batteries Nationals at Golden Isles Speedway. It was a $7,000-to-win prize in the first race for the Lucas Oil Series since Feb. 9.

For Owens, it was his sixth win in seven starts and followed recent wins at Magnolia (Miss.) Speedway and 411 Speedway in Seymour.

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