Rain delays, but doesn't stop racing action at Tri County
By Travis Dockery
389 Country Editor
Just as drivers were preparing for their pre-race meeting with promoter Ray Cook, the skies over Tri County Racetrack darkened and an early-summer shower fell on the quarter mile clay surface. A small pocket of precipitation parked over Brasstown, sending fans running for cover and their cars. Once the rain finally stopped, track prep was needed and Cook made the rare request for drivers to help dry the track. Many answered the call, a move that was appreciated by fans and staff.
With the track declared raceable, hot laps, qualifying and heat races were completed and it was time for feature events.
Daniel Wilson and Drew Deaver made up the front row of the King Ford Limited Late Model main event thanks to stellar qualifying laps. After a false start, the field was lined up again and the green flag flew. Deaver used the momentum he gained on the high side to power to the lead. A flat tire just a few laps into the race sent Wilson to the pit and forced him to the rear of the field for the restart.
Deaver brought the field up to speed with Warne's Danny Ledford in tow. As the laps clicked by, Ledford's No.4 inched closer and closer to the leader. As they approached the tail of the field, Deaver found himself in a dogfight. Ledford was able to work to the inside and pull up to Deaver's driver's side door, but could never get enough launch off the corner to make the pass. Deaver held on for the win, Ledford took second and defending track champion Jason Deal crossed the stripe in third.
In the Interstate Welding 602 Late Model feature, a flurry of action changed the look of the race in a hurry. The Murphy Bulldog Jamie Oliver and "Dandy" Dante Curtis battled door to door from the front row on the opening lap. Curtis was able to edge out Oliver to lead the lap one, but contact would ultimately change everything. Oliver slowed with a flat tire which brought out the yellow flag. Oliver hit the pits for a tire change and while the field slowed, Curtis stopped on the backstretch to have track officials look over his car. After being told he also had a tire down, Curtis vacated the top spot in order to head to the pits for a new tire.
That moved Johnny Gulizia into the lead. The man who has been so close to a Tri County feature win mashed the loud pedal and got the race back underway. While battles broke out throughout field, "Johnny G" had his No. 42 on a rail and led the remainder of laps to get the victory. Cooper Twiggs made a late-race charge, but had to settle for second and John Howard took third in his return to Tri County.
Troy Turner and Charles Devine Jr. had fans on their feet in the Street Stock main event. Turner got a great start and put his No.21 in the lead, but Devine tucked in right on Turner's rear bumper. Lap after lap Devine would stay in line on the straightaways then duck low in the turns, diamonding off the corner exit and trying to get a run at the leader. That pattern held true for the first 13 laps of the 15 lap event. After being solid for the entire race, Turner left a little too much room down low and Devine was finally able to find the launch he had been looking for exiting turn four.
As the pair went into turn one, Devine completed a successful slide job pass to take the top spot. Turner tried to counter with a crossover move, but Devine's No. 14 was able to hold off the challenge and collect yet another win and extend his point lead.
602 conciliation: Jay Lynch
Monster Mini Stock Association: Matt Gilbert
Open Wheel Modified: Chuck Southard
Front Wheel Drive: Jim Exum
The night also focused on kids as the track hosted its annual kids bicycle races. Along with the bike races, 11 bicycles were given away along with 50 Hot Wheels cars thanks to generous donations from local businesses and individuals.
Tri County Racetrack will be back in action on Friday, July 1 for the annual Independence Day celebration. The Blue Ridge Outlaw Late Model Series will be in town competing for $3,000. All other divisions will be in action and fans will be treated to one of the largest fireworks shows in the area.