By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Mike Duncan has always been a competitive type.
Back in the late 1990s, he was a standout defensive end and offensive tackle for Woodrow Wilson High School. He earned all-state honors and is a member of the school’s Football Hall of Fame.
Those football days are long gone, but Duncan is still busy with a sport he loves.
He is a fixture at both Beckley Motorsports Park and Princeton Speedway, driving his No. 53 Modified class race car.
“I love the competitiveness and the excitement of driving,” he said. “I needed to fill the competitive void after I lost football.”
This is Duncan’s 12th year in the sport. He ran Outlaw Street cars and then Late Models before settling into Modifieds.
He won two track championships at Beckley and three at Princeton, all in Outlaw Streets.
This year he’s had several second-place finishes at Beckley and is in second place in the point standings going into tonight’s regular-season finale.
“We struggled at the start of the year, but it’s been getting a lot better,” Duncan said. “Hopefully we’ll get a win (tonight).”
While he’d like to win another championship, he admits he hasn’t raced so much for points this season as for wins.
“I race when I can. I took a vacation and missed a couple of races,” he said. “I haven’t been there enough to race for points, and I honestly don’t know how I ended up second.”
Of course, when you finish every race and are often in the Top 5, you’re going to be one of the leaders.
Winning definitely isn’t easy at BMP. Several classes are still up for grabs.
“It’s such a good group of cars at Beckley, anybody can win every night,” he said. “All the stars have to line up in your favor to get a win.”
Keith Bills leads the Modifieds class with 713 points. Duncan is 35 points behind at 678.
Duncan is realistic about his chances.
“Keith is a tremendous racer, always toward the front. I give him all the respect in the world,” he said. “Something would have to break on his car in a heat race, and not let him start, in order for me to catch him.”
Like Bills, whose father and son also race, Duncan is part of a racing family.
His father Bill does the track prep at BMP, running a grader and water truck. His sister Billie co-manages the track with her husband Joe Jackson, and his mother Donna also works at the track.
“Dad got me into racing as soon as I was out of diapers,” Duncan said. “My mom is the backbone at Beckley. She keeps everything going.
And then there’s his nephew, Mike Moore, who’s third in the Modifieds race with 670 points.
“Michael’s been knocking on my door every night, or beating me,” Duncan said. “I help him all I can. We drive out of the same garage.”
Duncan is blessed with supportive sponsors — Eagle Coal Sales, Diamond Trucking, KB Kids Daycare, Duncan Motorsports.
But above all, he’s grateful to God and to his family.
“I give thanks first and foremost to God. Without him, I couldn’t get it done,” Duncan said. “I also have to thank my wife (Heather) and kids (Kayla, Makenzie and Dre Lawson) for not letting me have to be home all the time.”
Beckley Motorsports Park will hold racing tonight instead of Friday this week, and will hold double features for Fastrak Crates.
Gates will open at 4 p.m. Racing starts at 7 p.m.
The track will hold the Fastrak World Championships Oct. 3-5.
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