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Chris Madden Leads Flag-To-Flag In Friday's Karl Kustoms Bristol Dirt Nationals Feature

From Jeff Birchfield /

Chris Madden put a hurting on the rest of the field in Friday’s 50-lap, $50,000-to-win Super Late Model feature at the Karl Kustoms Bristol Dirt Nationals.

The South Carolina driver nicknamed “Smokey” led flag-to-flag in the first-ever race for the newly-formed XR Series. His No. 44 machine lapped all the way up to eighth place. Madden built over a five-second lead before he won by 1.8 seconds over runner-up Dale McDowell.

The key was a superbly handling car with Madden able to drive wherever he wanted to go on the half-mile oval.

“I don’t know what to say, that thing was awesome,” Madden said. “We could run top, bottom, middle. My race car was really balanced, really good tonight. I could maneuver wherever I needed to go.

“My wife just got here after the heat race. I told her my adrenaline was going harder than I’m used to, but that was a good feeling. We’ve got a great race car, and we’re going to keep plugging away to do what we do best.”

What he does best is win races. He has piled up many trophies over the years, including taking back-to-back “Grinch at the Gap” victories at nearby Volunteer Speedway in 2019-20. Still, there is a different feeling to win at the “Last Great Colosseum.”

“This goes to the top of the list being Bristol,” Madden said. “There is a lot of prestige here to have your name on that board including the asphalt guys. This means a lot to me and my guys. To all the guys who were second-guessing us (leaving the World of Outlaws Series to race here), this helps settle it. For the guys to put the money up like XR has, we as racers need to support it.”

McDowell, a longtime Georgia racer who recently moved to Ooltewah, Tennessee, drove his No. 17 car up from fifth to second. He won on the Bristol dirt two decades ago and was happy with the second-place run.

“I’m happy with the good top-five run,” McDowell said. “Traffic was a big factor tonight. Chris obviously got through there a little better than we did. I think we had a little more speed at the end, but Chris has been so good both nights, last night in practice and tonight in the race. We just have to do a little more to catch up.”

Georgia racers Brandon Overton and Jonathan Davenport finished third and fourth. Overton, who talked about struggling on the high-banked tracks like Bristol, was pleased with his third-place finish.

Davenport won the Saturday feature in 2021, but had to transfer into Friday’s 50-lap race through a B-Main qualifier. He charged from a 21st-place start to finish fourth.

Mike Marlar from Winfield, Tennessee, rounded out the top five.

Canadian driver Ricky Weiss finished sixth. Four-time Lucas Oil Series national champion Jimmy Owens from Newport started third and wound up seventh.

Longtime Hawkins County resident Scott Bloomquist worked his way up from a 19th-place start to finish 12th.

Johnson City driver Jensen Ford finished second in his heat race. The driver of the No. 83 started eighth in the A-Main. He had the unfortunate luck of Dakotah Knuckles getting loose in the No. 21 car and getting into him on the opening lap of the race.

It sent Ford’s car backward into the turn-1 wall before he was slammed by Michael Chilton in the No. 97 car. Ford finished 23rd in the 24-driver field.

Morristown racer Vic Hill, the promoter of Volunteer Speedway, didn’t even get to transfer to the A-Main. He was frustrated with Ashton Winger, who got into him during their heat race. After a confrontation in the pits, Hill talked about why he was so angry.

“You are the start of a heat race and you don’t even make it past the flag stand before crashing,” Hill said. “Nobody is a winner in that. I’m pretty hot at Ashton. He’s a talented guy, but I’ve seen him take out numerous people for really bad decisions behind the wheel.

“He’s got no respect for the talent around him. That’s the biggest problem I’ve got with a lot of the younger generation drivers.”

See the full recap including other class results:

Photo: Randall Perry /

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