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August 28, 2019 - I-95 leader Batten comfortable on top - for now
As long as things continue to go his way, Rocky Mount’s Michael Batten is going to be hard to overhaul for the I-95 Late Model Challenge Series title. (Joseph Swann photo)

He doesn’t quite see it that way entering a doubleheader weekend for the tour with stops at Fayetteville Motor Speedway on Friday night and County Line Raceway on Saturday.

“If we can just keep things rolling like we have this year, I think we’ve got a good shot,” the 32-year-old racer said. “But anything can happen. I don’t think it’ll be settled ‘til the last lap of the last race.”

The I-95 Late Model Challenge Series has a nine-race schedule in 2019 with stops at Fayetteville, County Line in Elm City and Halifax County Motor Speedway in Brinkleyville. The five races to date have produced five different winners, including Batten, who kicked off the campaign April 27 with a victory at County Line, his home track.

In the ensuing four races, he’s posted a second and three fourth-place runs. Batten competes in a Longhorn chassis powered by Battenbilt Racing Engines. He would like nothing more than to collect the $2,500 top prize in Friday night’s 35-lap feature before heading back to County Line for Saturday’s show.

“The last race at Halifax (Aug. 17), we got very lucky that night considering track conditions,” Batten said. “We qualified terrible and got lucky, and we managed to get a fourth place. Other than that, I feel like we’ve been pretty competitive so far. 

“I told my guys at the beginning of the season I wanted to try to win the I-95 championship. I’ve never been able to run for it, and I want to give it a shot. I enjoy it, I really do. I’ve always liked to go to different areas to race. I wish there were a couple of more tracks on the schedule” such as Virginia Motor Speedway in Jamaica, Va., and Lake View (S.C.) Motor Speedway “but I don’t know how that scheduling stuff works.”

Other classes in action at Fayetteville on Friday night will be Diet Mountain Dew Modified, Sportsman, SportModz, Renegades and Legends. The Renegades race is the first in a five-race ‘Blitz’ series paying $500 to win at each event and $500 to the series points winner.

Hot laps at the 4/10ths-mile dirt track, located of Doc Bennett Road near Fayetteville Regional Airport, begin at 7:30 p.m.