Officials at the 3/8-mile, concrete oval recently released the 2018 schedule and it starts with four open practices before an afternoon season opener on Saturday, March 24. The NASCAR All-American Weekly Series schedule goes through Aug. 31 with a Sept. 14 event for non-winners in all divisions to close out the season.
“Since the track re-opening in 2011 we have seen seven consecutive seasons of successful car counts and growing fan counts each and every week,” said Karen Tunnell, general manager and promoter at Kingsport Speedway. “With weekly tracks closing in the surrounding areas, we are looking to increase car counts in every division. We have been contacted by several drivers in different divisions that are expressing interest in competing at Kingsport Speedway in 2018.”
In recent years, even some of NASCAR’s most historic venues like the Hickory Motor Speedway have struggled with low car counts. That hasn’t been the case at Kingsport, where the featured Late Model Stock division has seen fields of 15-23 cars on a weekly basis.
Kingsport has come back strong from a few years ago, when the track sat dormant for nearly nine years.
Founded as a dirt track in 1965, Kingsport Speedway was paved in 1969. It played host to three Grand National (now Monster Cup Series) races in 1969-70. Richard Petty won the first two Kingsport races and Bobby Isaac triumphed in the third.
However, the track was most noted for the big Late Model Sportsman events it hosted from 1976-81. Local drivers Brad Teague and John A. Utsman won national events at Kingsport, while other winners included NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram, Harry Gant, Tommy Ellis, Butch Lindley and Tommy Houston. Former Daytona 500 winner Geoff Bodine won two NASCAR Modified races at Kingsport during that time.
The track later went back to dirt and was home to the National Dirt Racing Association (NDRA) before being changed back to a NASCAR-sanctioned paved track in the late 1990s.
In 2018, the track is also hosting the CARS Late Model tour for the first time on July 14. It’s one of the most successful late model touring series in the Southeast and other touring series are also scheduled to be announced.
Furthermore, the track will host its annual mall show with the venue and date to be released. After several seasons at the Kingsport Town Center (former Ft. Henry Mall), the venue was changed to the Mall at Johnson City last year and drew huge interest.
Several special themes are scheduled for weekly races throughout the season. The track will take off and not compete with Bristol Motor Speedway on either of the NASCAR Monster Cup Series or during the Short Track U.S. Nationals.
Kres Van Dyke was the 2017 track champion at Kingsport Speedway in the featured Late Model Stock division. Other 2017 champions were Royce Peters (Modified Street), Jay Swecker (Pure Street), Kevin Canter (Mod 4) and Kenny Absher (Pure 4).