The Jonesborough driver finished third in the Crate Late Model feature to wrap up his fourth championship at the four-tenths-mile Bulls Gap dirt track.
Byrd went into Saturday’s race one point ahead of Johnson City driver Tim Maupin in the championship standings. Byrd, driving the blue No. 24 Chevrolet, finished one spot ahead of Maupin, in the black No. 3 Chevy, to win the hotly contested title.
“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 this 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 to win the race. Gary Crittenden finished behind Byrd and Maupin to round out the top five.
Russellville’s Aaron Guinn won for the fifth time in five Sportsman Late Model starts. 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. Shane Taylor was second and Collett finished third in the Classic race, and Chad Manning used a consistent effort of one win and 14 top fives to take the Mini Stock championship.
Tony Trent won his third Street Stock feature, outrunning Parrottsville’s Jason Rollins, who wrapped up the championship. In the new Front Wheel Drive division, Jacob Sharp won for a second straight week and Kingsport Speedway regular Josh Detwiler finished second.
Though the championships have been settled, Volunteer Speedway has two more Saturdays of racing scheduled.
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. Brown finished second to another Yamaha rider, Nick Gaines from Georgia, in the 250 Pro race.
Michigan’s Marshal Weltin on a KTM won the 450 Pro race. Brown was second, 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, before Walker turned around and won the 45+ division race. Johnson City’s Tyler Orfield beat Fall Branch’s Tim Calhoun in the VetMX Warrior Class.
Other local winners were 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 runner-up finishes.
Contact Jeff Birchfield via email at [email protected]