McGill mc-nificent: Butch McGill wins feature race at Hilltop Speedway
Veteran dirt track race car driver Butch McGill spent his teenage years in the 1970s cutting his teeth on some of the Mid-Ohio Valley’s best race tracks, including the Legendary Hilltop Speedway in Marietta.
The West Union, W. Va., came into his own in the 1980s as he became one of the best drivers in the area and he has continued to compete at a high level ever since.
Friday night, the 61-year-old racer was at it once again as he captured the AMRA Super Late Model Feature at the Legendary Hilltop Speedway in the first super late model race at the track in over 20 years.
McGill got around Nick Dohm early on in the 30-lap feature race and held on to claim his first feature win of the 2013 season.
“We’ve been kind of fighting the car all year and changing stuff and we finally hit on a new set of shocks tonight,” said McGill, who has amassed close to 350 feature wins in his 46-year career.
“He (Dohm) gave me enough room there on top and we had a pretty good race there for awhile but we were able to hold him off.”
The speedway re-opened towards the end of last season after sitting idle for more than two decades and had not run the popular super late model class prior to Fridays night’s event.
With many of the other drivers in the field never turning a single lap on the legendary speedway prior to Friday’s race, the super late model class completed the 30-lap race without a single caution flag.
After the victory, McGill spent some time reminiscing about the old days at the track while handing out praise to new track operator Lhan Weppler and his crew.
“We used to race over here every weekend and everybody just raced hard and had a great time,” recalled McGill. “We would have a fight every now and then but this was a heck of a good race track and they have made it back into a pretty nice little track now.”
Evans, W.Va., native Chris Garnes placed third with K.C Burdette finishing fourth while Jeremy Misel nipped Dan Morrison at the finish line for fifth.
While it was a veteran racer who claimed the super late model feature, it appeared 14-year old Tyler Evans was well on his way towards capturing the Octane AMRA Modified feature.
Evans got around Nick Corbitt for the lead mid way through the feature event and appeared to be on his way to his second victory of the year as he took the white flag with a healthy lead.
That would all change however when Corbitt’s engine appeared to expire entering the first turn forcing a caution flag and setting up a one-lap dash to the checkered flag.
On the restart Evans grabbed the quick lead but contact from second place driver Roy Roush caused the two leaders to bobble coming out of turn two enabling both Kenny Johnson and second generation driver Travis Dickson to pass on the back stretch.
Johnson held off the charging Dickson to claim the victory while Evans was forced to settle with a heart breaking third place finish.
“Tyler Evans has been doing a great job all year and he is going to be a contender for many years to come,” said Johnson, a Mineral Wells, W.Va., native in his 29th year of racing. “We were just kind of in the right place at the right time and fortunate to get the win.”
Evans, though visibly disappointed with the outcome, took solace in being the class of the field in the race.
“We got around Corbitt there and kind of took off, it’s just kind of a tough break getting a win taken away,” said Evans, another Mineral Wells native. “The good makes up for the bad so we’ll just have to come back and do better next time.”
Mark Dickson finished fourth with Darrin McDonald rounding out the top five.
Kevin Smith claimed a caution marred steel block late model feature, while Lou Ennis and Tom Adkins came out on top in the Hot Mod and 4-cylinder features respectively.
Racing will return to the speedway this Friday night as the track will honor several past local drivers on Legends night.