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You like motorsports? You’ll find plenty this weekend

Jeff Birchfield • Oct 9, 2019 at 2:30 PM

The Tri-Cities area boasts quite a variety of racing action 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 crowns its season champion at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon. “Coca-Cola Night at Volunteer Speedway,” the final championship points race of the season at the Bulls Gap dirt track, is Saturday night. And the 32nd annual Suzuki Top Gun Showdown, the biggest race of the year at Muddy Creek Raceway, takes place throughout a weekend capped by Sunday’s main event.


The inaugural Bandit Bristol Battle at Bristol Motor Speedway — billed as showcasing the world’s fastest semi-trucks as they rumble around the iconic high-banked half-mile — 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 receive a Bandit drawstring bag with a coloring book. A Little Bandits Big Wheel race on the track is also scheduled.

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


“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 one point in the championship standings at the four-tenths-mile dirt track.

In case of a tie in points, Byrd would win his fourth track title because 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 — who is looking for his second Volunteer Speedway championship — pilots the black No. 3 Chevrolet.

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

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


When the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series left 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 Top Gun Showdown featured top riders from the United States and abroad.

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

Kyle Bitterman, a rider from South Carolina, didn’t win either of his motos in the 450 Pro race, but he captured the overall championship 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’s practice day starts at 10 a.m. Saturday features practice at 8 a.m. and the Mega Series.

Adding to the fun, there is a $50-to-win chili cookout on Saturday evening.

Contact Jeff Birchfield via email at [email protected]