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The local short track racing scene is winding down, but not before one more round of fireworks as modified and late model drivers descend upon Caraway Speedway this weekend for the ninth annual John Blewett III North/South Shootout in memory of Charles Kepley.

The Shootout has a full slate of racing that will culminate Saturday in the 125-lap Tour Modifieds race along with the Champions Racing Association (CRA) Late Model Shootout to crown the series' inaugural National Late Model Champion. Other divisions on the slate will include the SK Modifieds, USA Modifieds, Sportsman and Legends. Activities begin Thursday with open practice from Noon-6 p.m., followed by practice on Friday and qualifying, beginning at 5 p.m.

Racing begins at 2 p.m. Saturday, with a one-hour autograph session prior to that, starting at 12:30 p.m.

A bevy of talent across both the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NMT) ranks and the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour (SMT) will do battle on the banked .455-mile asphalt short track nestled at Caraway Mountain just west of Asheboro. Caraway makes its debut as host of the prestigious showdown after being held down the road the last nine years at Concord Motorsports Park just north of Charlotte.

"We're looking forward to it," said Burt Myers, a former Shootout winner and Southern Modified Tour regular. "With it being the home track of the Southern Tour, I'm hoping the Southern cars are going to have a slight advantage"

Myers is a two-time winner of the Shootout and knows how to win at Caraway, but it's been a while since he has been to victory lane. Myers has been in the top 10 in all but one race in the Southern ranks this season and been in the top five in half his 10 starts, but no wins. He has an even longer drought at Caraway, having missed out on victory lane since winning there in the inaugural season of the Southern tour in 2005.

"Caraway's been somewhat of a thorn in our side the last several years," said Myers, who has also made starting at the top of the heap at Caraway a habit with a dozen poles among his SMT-series leading 22 career poles.

It just hasn't translated into wins. He's hoping his luck will change this weekend against the likes of George Brunnhoelzl III, Andy Seuss and NMT veteran Ted Christopher, all among the drivers entered who have visited victory lane this year at Caraway.

"We've really been working hard to try and get a grip on Caraway because there are so many tracks on the Southern Tour that are comparable to Caraway," he said. "I've got mixed emotions ... I'm going to miss not going to Concord, but on the other hand, I think we've learned a lot the last several races at Caraway. Hopefully, that's going to be to our advantage."

The Walnut Cove (N.C.) native will be one of a handful of SMT competitors ready to take on the Northern guys coming down to do battle for a big payday and bragging rights. But Myers is also chasing a little bit of history this weekend. With a win in the Shootout, he can join defending champion Matt Hirschman as the only other three-time winner in Shootout history. And Myers is no stranger to Shootout victory lane, having won the two prior to Hirschman's victory in 2010.

Myers is a veteran of the modified ranks and knows that there will be no guarantees or givens once the green flag drops Saturday. But until then, all the drivers will be looking to set themselves up for a run to victory and big boost to the end of the 2011 season.

"It's an ego race. The who's-who of modified racing come together, the rivalry of the North and South," Myers said. "It's always good, you know, if you can come away from there with a win that last race, that makes for a pretty good off-season as well."

Fans will get over well 400 laps of racing Saturday. Gates open at 11 a.m.

The schedule is currently set to have the Tour modifieds consolation race to kick off the afternoon, followed by the CRA Late Model Last Chance race. The Legends will start things off with 30 laps of competition followed by the SK Modifieds, the USA Modifieds , the Tour Modifieds and then the Sportsman division will hit the track for 30 laps of racing.

The feature begins with the 125-lap North/South Shootout for the Tour Modifieds and then the day will conclude with the North/South Shootout 100 for the CRA Late Models to crown a champion.

Tickets are on sale now at northsouthshootout.com, carawayspeedway.com or by calling the ticket office at (336) 629-5803. VIP top row tickets for the weekend are $50 with reserved seating in the turn one grandstand $40. General admission tickets for the weekend are $35 with child admission $25. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the gate.

More information at carawayspeedway.com or northsouthshootout.com.

Source: Tony Bolick / Caraway Speedway
Posted: November 2, 2011

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