GASTONIA - Mount Airy’s Ryan Atkins kicked off the 2013 dirt-track season in style as he led all 30 laps of the Skyler Trull Memorial pro late model event last weekend at Carolina Speedway.
The race was the first 2013 touring event for the NDRA (National Dirt Racing Association).
“We have won races in the past, but this is my first major-event victory and the biggest win of my career,” Atkins said.
The 2005 graduate of North Surry has been driving for six years. This was his fifth win overall, earning victories in races held in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee.
Last year, he came close to a major win. He finished second in the Memorial Day race at the Wythe Raceway. He said he has had several second-place finishes in the FASTRAK Touring Late Models in his short career.
As for the Skyler Trull Memorial on March 9, Atkins qualified second and started on the first row.
At the drop of the green flag, Atkins shot ahead of the field and never looked back.
He had to hold off an early challenge from Concord’s Matt Long, Atkins’ Circle K teammate, but led every lap.
“This was an extremely enjoyable win,” Atkins said. He believed that this race has the highest payout of any dirt track in North Carolina. He earned $3,000 for one night.
The racer said he didn’t go on any shopping spree.
“Every bit of that went right back into keeping the team going,” he said. It costs so much money to keep a car up, he noted.
Two other local drivers finished in the top 20.
Mount Airy’s Mitchell Coble, who won several area races last summer, didn’t qualify well. Still, he won a heat and then took eighth place in the main event.
Dobson’s Landon Mitchell continued building his racing resume by scoring an 18th-place finish.
Atkins, who helps out at his father’s farm supply store, Atkins Fertilizer, said none of the nearby tracks have opened for the year yet, so he took some time off this past weekend.
“I did some fishing,” he said. “It’s always good to get away and have some peace and quiet.”
Here are the NDRA season standings after one event:
2. Matt Long
3. Steve Banal
4. Rambo Franklin
5. Ross Bailes
6. Brett Hamm
7. Anthony Sanders
8. Mitchell Coble
9. Corey Gordon
10. Doug Horton
11. Greg Barker
12. Donnie Austin
13. John Over
14. Travis Steele
15. Nolan Dalton
16. Mark Robinson
17. Gary Puckett
18. Landon Mitchell
19. Taylor Hicks
20. Timbo Mangum