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Local legend Paul Shull takes his last lap around Kingsport Speedway

Jeff Birchfield • Feb 26, 2020 at 10:30 AM

In a fitting tribute, Paul Shull took his final victory laps around Kingsport Speedway on Tuesday afternoon.

Shull, a veteran with over 50 years of racing experience, died unexpectedly Saturday. He was 79.

As part of a celebration of life service Tuesday, a Carter-Trent Funeral Home hearse carrying Shull’s body led a quartet of race cars around the three-eighths-mile concrete oval.

A fierce competitor to the end, Shull finished third in the 2019 Mod Street points standings. He was a multi-time former track champion at Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn and made two starts in the NASCAR Busch (now Xfinity) Series, earning a 15th- place finish at Bristol.

“The word ‘legend’ is used too often, but he was a legend in the tri-state area,” Kingsport Speedway General Manager Karen Tunnell said. “Unless he had some mechanical failure, when he climbed in that race car, he was either racing for the win or finishing in the top five. He helped so many people. He loved to give advice.”

Originally from Granite Falls, North Carolina, Shull worked as a mechanic for the Chevrolet dealership in Hickory. After moving to Clintwood, he worked for the Chevy dealership there.

In the racing community, he was best known as driver of the blue No. 48 Chevrolet.

In recent years, he teamed with Royce Peters, who won back-to-back Mod Street championships in 2017-18.

“Paul was tenacious about racing,” Peters said. “He lived to race and work on cars. There’s no way in the world I would have the championships if not for him. He made sure that nothing broke and he made the cars fast.”

The loss of Shull was the second major blow to Peters’ race team recently. Greg Harvey, another of the team’s mechanics and a sponsor on the cars, died unexpectedly of a heart attack two weeks ago.

“When Greg died, it took a lot of the wind out of Paul’s sails,” Peters said. “They were pretty tight. Greg was always in the pits, helping us out on the cars every week. And Paul, he was a good man, someone who was just a good guy.”

Always with a true passion for racing, Shull had traveled to North Carolina for an auction of racing equipment on the day he died.

Chris Tunnell, driver of the yellow No. 6 Camaro in the Mod Street division, remembered Shull as a hard-nosed racer.

“He was a tough old bird to get around,” Tunnell said. “He knew every inch of the racetrack and he had a major influence on everybody. If somebody asked them to help them with their cars, he would go over there and tell them what they needed.

“The thing about Paul is he always had fun. He won lots of races, lots of championships. Nobody knows how many he won. He didn’t even know. We’re going to miss him and it’s not going to be the same.”

BMS HONORING JOHNSON

Bristol Motor Speedway is offering a special, limited $48 ticket deal — $20 for kids 12 and younger — for seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson’s on-site Q&A session prior to the Food City 500.

The ticket package includes a grandstand seat and access to the special question and answer session featuring the two-time Food City 500 winner at the BMS South Building on Sunday, April 5. Existing ticket holders can add the Q&A experience for just $20.

Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, has recorded 21 top-10 finishes in 36 races. He has four consecutive top-10 finishes in the Food City 500, including a victory in 2017 and a third-place showing in 2018. He finished 10th in last year’s race.

MUDDY CREEK OPENER

The 34th annual Thor Mega Series season opener takes place at Muddy Creek Raceway on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday is a practice day. Sunday’s schedule for the AMA-sanctioned event features: Youth, Beginner, Amateur, Intermediate classes, along with the Pros and Vet Classes to 60-plus.

Practice starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday and additional practice is scheduled for 8 a.m. Sunday prior to the start of the races.

Email Jeff Birchfield at jbirchfield@johnsoncitypress.com.

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