NASHVILLE – Written by Larry Woody (The Wilson Post)
Lebanon’s Dylan Fetcho will start chasing his third Fairgrounds Speedway track championship Saturday night, with some familiar faces looming in his rear-view mirror.
Hunter Wright of Gladeville, who finished second to Fetcho last year in a tense battle that went down to the last lap of the last race, is expected to contend again.
“Hunter will be tough, as always,” says Fetcho, 22, the defending track champion who captured his first title in 2020.
“We race each other hard, but we race clean, and we had some great battles last year. I expect more of the same this year.
Wright, 21, says he is concentrating more on wins than championships.
“My goal is to win every race I run,” he says. “If you win, the (championship) points will take care of themselves.”
Another young Wilson County hot-shoe, Mt. Juliet’s Chase Johnson, came in seventh last season in the premier Pro Late Model division. He thinks this could be the year he adds his name to a list of champions that includes his dad Andy.
Then there’s veteran Bennie Hamlett, also from Mt. Juliet, who is heading into his 35th season.
A strong finish last year, including 4th in the final race, boosted his confidence in contending for his first title.
Two other locals will compete for Rookie of the Year — Lebanon’s Dawson Sutton, 16, and Watertown’s Robby Taylor, 15.
A battle of brothers could develop in the Limited Late Models between Peyton and Dalton Hamlett, sons of Bennie.
Carter Pugh of Watertown will race in the Legends Series.
Saturday night’s seven-race schedule starts at 5 p.m.
The Pro Late Model feature will be 119 laps, in observance of the Fairgrounds’ 119th year of auto racing. The past 65 seasons have been run on the current track.
“There’s a lot of history there,” says Fetcho, who dad Scott raced and won at the Fairgrounds for years before retiring to assist his son’s efforts.
“It’s a place every driver takes pride in.”
The track enters the new season with an undecided future.
Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) hopes to add the track to its racing empire that includes several of the top venues in the country — Las Vegas, Texas, Charlotte, Atlanta, Bristol — but the deal has yet to be finalized.
Most of the drivers believe SMI, with its vast resources, would secure a bright, long-time future for the track.
Meanwhile, Illinois-based Track Enterprises will continue to operate the Metro Nashville-owned track.
Photo By – Jeff Ames