Elm City, NC – A beautiful spring day was filled with a roar of engines in Elm City as County Line Raceway cranked up its 2015 regular season. A parking lot full of cars and fans kicked off the afternoon with the track’s annual car show for the fans. Over 30 drivers and teams participated. Roary the County Lion, CLR’s track mascot, and his special guest, the Easter Bunny, made an appearance for the kids and handed out treats for the kids. The winners of the car show for “Best Appearing Car” in each division will be announced during intermission at the April 18 event.
As the sun began to set on an already fun day, the lights came on over the 3/8ths mile clay oval with the track’s weekly racing series presented by Lee Motor Group – Doing Business the Right Way Since 1953, taking center stage for the first time in 2015. A round of practice would kick off the night for each division as many of the drivers were seeing the newly configured track for the first time.
First up on the schedule was the Super Stock Four Cylinder division. They would kick the night off with qualifying. Hunter Bailey would qualify on the pole with a time of 17.077 and Austin Holcombe would turn a time fast enough for second, but after spinning to avoid a car stopped on the track in turn two, Holcombe would make contact with the inside wall forcing him to a backup car, therefore being sent to the rear of the field for the start of the feature. Bill Winstead would assume the outside pole as the field assembled on the backstretch for the start of their 20 lap feature. Polesitter, Hunter Bailey would jump out to a quick lead at the drop of the green. On lap 3, Bailey would have a flat tire slowing on the track to bring out a caution. Bill Winstead would lead the field back to green. The red flag would come out on lap 5 when the 61 of Youngsville’s Eric Hill erupted in flames on the back stretch. Emergency crews quickly responded and got the flames under control. The driver was able to get out under his own power and walk away unharmed. After a lengthy cleanup, the field went back green for a 15 lap dash to the finish. Bad luck would strike again for Holcombe as motor woes forced him to the pits on lap 16, after piloting his #8 machine into 4th position. They would remain green until the end and see the J2 of James Manning take the first checkers of the night followed by Bill Winstead, Damien Bryant, Hunter Bailey, and Kevin Sanford.
Pure Stock V-8 would be the next division to roll out onto the track. Two heat races would set the starting field for their 15 lap feature. Josh Bryant of Wilson, making his return to dirt racing, would take the first heat along with Gary Whitley taking heat two. At the drop of the green flag Gary Whitley would take the lead from Bryant. Bryant then had his hands full with the #1 car of Kevin Beard. Bryant was running third when he had mechanical issues on lap 7 forcing him to the pits. A caution on lap 8 would slow the field when the 99J of Jody Jones had issues and stalled on the front stretch. Back green the field couldn’t be slowed again as Gary Whitley took the checkers followed by Kevin Beard, Phillip Lamm, Amanda Liles, and Austin Ferrell, finishing in the top five in his first ever start.
The ARCO Restoration Limited Sportsman took to the track next. 5 lap heat races were run to set the starting field. Skeeter Liles of Bailey took heat one and started alongside Matthew Bissette who won the second heat. It was a battle of horsepower at the front until Liles’ car began to give up power allowing Bissette to run away from the field. The 20 lap event went caution free with Bissette going on to victory lane. Mark Boykin finished second followed by John Proctor, in his first Limited Sportsman start, Chris Radford and Skeeter Liles rounding out the top five.
The biggest field of the night belong to the Pure Stock Four Cylinder division with a total of 21 cars signing in for competition. Heat one would be the most eventful heat race of the evening when the D71 of Dillon Harrison in his first ever start made hard contact with the outside wall on the backstretch. EMS crews would check on the driver and he was cleared but the car had severe damage and would not be able to start the evening’s main event. Wilson’s Michael Webb would take heat one and start alongside Bailey’s Jeremy Benson would won heat two. As the field assembled on the backstretch 18 cars made the call. At the drop of the green flag it was a battle between Webb and Benson as they drag-raced to turn one. They were side by side nearly the entire first lap before Webb was able to take the lead. There was passing, two wide and three wide racing for the entire 15 lap feature, that went caution-free. In the end Michael Webb was standing in victory lane. Chris Collins took second followed by Jeremy Benson, Lee Hardie and Wilson’s Robbie Causby who rounded out the top five.
To close out the night, the Late Models took to the track. Qualifying set the starting order for their 30 lap feature later in the night. Sharpsburg’s Michael Batten set a fast time with a time of 14.993 seconds around the 3/8th mile bullring. Christian Joyner would start on the outside pole with a time of 15.073. The cars assembled on the backstretch behind the ARCO Restoration pace truck. As the field came around the kids came to life as they saw Roary and the Easter Bunny on board the pace truck. At the drop of the green flag, it would be a fierce battle at the front of the field between Batten and Joyner, with Joyner winning out, but he couldn’t run away. The field found its rhythm until a caution came out at halfway for the 49 of Elm City’s Brad Hamm who had issues and had to retire for the evening. Back green the field would be slowed again on lap 22 for debris in turn four setting up a sprint to the finish. Joyner held on for the win followed by Michael Batten, Greensboro’s Daniel Tucker, Spencer Liggon, and Derek Francis.
Racing resumes this Saturday night when the track hosts the Renegades of Dirt South and the return of the I-95 Late Model Challenge. Super Stock Four Cylinder, Pure Stock V-8, and Pure Stock Four Cylinder divisions will also be in action. Pit gates open at 4:00, grandstands at 5:00 and cars are scheduled to hit the track at 7:00. Grandstand admission for this blockbuster event is $20 for ages 16 & up, $5 for ages 11-15 and Free for kids 10 & under. Pit passes are available for $30. For more information on this event visit the website at www.countylineracewaync.com, follow us on Facebook or call the track at 252-985-1949. Bring your family and friends out this Saturday night for a unique entertainment experience at the little track making BIG NOISE, County Line Raceway, We’ll see you at THE LINE!