Friday, February 04, 2011

SPORTS>>Frye was the guy in 2010

Leader sportswriter

The dirt late model series formerly known as the Mid South Racing Association held its annual Night of Champions banquet at the Holiday Inn Express ballroom on Saturday to crown 2010 champion Bill Frye, of Greenbrier.

The night started with an announcement from series director Chris Ellis regarding sponsorship and a name change for the series.

Comp Cams, the racing engine component manufacturer based out of Memphis, was the series’ title sponsor in 2010, and will now be the namesake of the series with increased financial support overthe next three years of racing action.

It was Frye’s first year to run full time with the series. He won five Mid America Racing Series championships from 2001-2007.

“We went through some years when I ran the MARS deal where I think I just got burned out,” Frye said. “Instead of racing with the passion that it takes to win races, I just kind of showed up and ran. This year, we got a little bit of that passion back.

“I still don’t have the focus I had 10 years ago or five, but I’ve enjoyed racing this year.”

Frye is still not sure how much he will race in 2011 as his wife, Carol, has battled cancer for the past five years.

Frye, a native of Squires, Mo., is also busy as a builder of customized GRT chassis.

“She’s actually doing well; she’s had a setback the past couple of weeks,” Frye said of his wife. “She’s going to be all right, I think. She’s working on it.”

Ellis and co-director Cary Jones recognized track promoters in attendance, which included Batesville Motor Speedway promoter Mooney Starr.

Jones then presented Frye with the Comp Cams Winner’s Circle award and a $500 check as the driver who won the most events during the season. Frye won races at USA Speedway in Sterlington, La., Crawford County Speedway near Van Buren and two events at 67 Speedway in Texarkana.

Malden Speedway promoter Phil Santie was given the promoter’s award, and in a bit of irony, Walnut Ridge driver Jeff Floyd won the JFR Graphics pole award. Floyd, who also owns JFR Graphics, took fast qualifier honors at five different events, and is the only driver to make every MSRA feature event over the past four seasons.

Jim Kuntz received the engine builder of the year award with five race victories, including four by Frye. Floral driver Brandon Smith was presented a trophy and $1,000 check as the Kuntz and Company Rookie of the Year.

Two-time champ Joey Mack of Benton, Mo., was given the Rock Hard Powder Coating hard charger award as the driver who improved his finishing position from starting position the most throughout the season.

Emcee Keith Schutte announced positions 15th through 12th in the points, which included Charlie Cole of Wynne, Jeff Sloan of East Prairie, Mo., Prattsville’s Wesley Crutchfield and last year’s champion Billy Moyer, Jr. of Batesville. Russellville driver Dewaine Hottinger was recognized as the driver who finished 11th in points.

That brought Schutte to the top ten points finishers. Each driver was presented a check and a trophy, including 10th-place veteran Terry Henson of North Little Rock, East End driver Eddie Provence in ninth, Arlington, Tenn., driver and rookie of the year candidate Shane Stephens in eighth, Russellville’s Jon Kirby in seventh, Smith in sixth, Mack in fifth and Floyd fourth.

Jon Mitchell was third, while Trumann driver Kyle Beard finished as runner up in the points for the second consecutive year. Beard had 10 top-five finishes and two victories, one at his home track, Northeast Arkansas Speedway, in Harrisburg in mid June and at Beebe Speedway the following weekend.

Each driver thanked family and crews, and most congratulated Frye or thanked him for help throughout the season.

“One thing Bill brings into the series is that people respect you more with him running,” Ellis said. “He’s well known, not just regionally, but nationally. I’ve always said that we have a great group of guys, and he fit right in. He’s a humble man and a good dad. He’s a good example for young racers to follow.”

Frye took time to reflect on a storied career that spans three decades and well over 200 race victories.

“I’ve lived a life that most men only dream of,” Frye said. “It’s okay — life’s been good to me. It’s been hard, but I’ve really enjoyed it. Racing’s been good to me. My biggest accomplishment I feel like is that I’ve paid for everything I have with a race car.

“I’ve always paid my bills — some of them not always on time — but I’ve got them paid. I don’t have a lot, but where I came from, I feel like I do.”