Payne holds off Oliver for Outlaw win at Tri County Racetrack
By Travis Dockery
389 Country Editor
Tri County Racetrack had a full list of events scheduled for their Friday, July 1 show. The Blue Ridge Outlaw Late Model Series made it's annual visit to the track along with the debut of the American Racer Open Wheel Modified Series. All other divisions were also on the schedule and one of the largest firework shows in the area. Two rain showers pushed the start time back roughly an hour.
The main event of the evening was the $3000 to win Blue Ridge Outlaw race. A pair of Murphy drivers led the field to green. Familiar foes, David Payne and Jamie Oliver brought the field up to full throttle and under the waving green flag. It was clear early on that the duo were the class of the field, with Payne leading the way. Within just a few laps, his No.8 had caught the tail of the field and he started working through the slower traffic. Refusing to let Payne get comfortable, Oliver was right in the leaders' tire tracks, slicing and dicing and keeping in step with the No.8.
A rash of cautions slowed the momentum of the race and a red flag put things on pause for nearly 30 minutes. With every restart, the two battling for the lead were on the throttle and quickly catching the back of the pack. While Oliver made a few charges at Payne, the No.38 could never get to the top spot. Payne held on for the win with Oliver in a very close second and series-regular Matthew Nance in third.
The win improved Payne to a perfect 3-0 in Blue Ridge Outlaw races at Tri County. As the top finishers pulled to post-race inspection, smoke and steam poured from under Oliver's car, showing that the Murphy Bulldog gave it everything he had.
A friendly rivalry is quickly developing in the Interstate Welding 602 Late Model division, While 8-10 drivers have a legitimate shot at winning, Dante Curtis and Bobby Elkins are locked in a battle for the title of "the man to beat." It was no shock that the pair once again found themselves lined up door-to-door on the front row after strong qualifying laps.
While Curtis had the fastest time, Elkins' outside pole position put him in the desired high line on the start. The defending champion made the most of his starting position and motored around Curtis on the exit of turn two to claim the lead. That was all "Bad Bobby" needed. He led flag-to-flag to get the win. Curtis held on to finish second with last week winner Johnny Gulizia crossing the stripe in third.
In other action, Charles Devine once again made a late-race move to get the lead and the win in the Street Stock division, his sixth victory in a row. Cy Strickland won the American Racer Open Wheel Modified feature, his second victory of the season at Tri County. Mark Ledford took the 602 Late Model conciliation race and Ricky "Turbo" Dyer parked his No. 11 in victory lane for the Pony win. The final race of the night saw Hayesville's Shannon Jones return to the winner's circle.
Tri County racetrack will open its gates again on Friday, July 8 as they welcome the Kajun Mini Stock Association along with other weekly divisions.