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Ryne Carney was determined not to let his final high school cross country race be ruined by the unfortunate action of another competitor.
The Elk Lake senior and other runners tumbled to the ground less than a half minute into the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AA championships in Hershey when another runner stopped to tie his shoe.
“At that point, there are so many people and it’s so tight that the slightest surprise can cause chaos,” Carney said.
Getting up and back in stride in a field of 292 runners is not an easy task.
“I think it might have added about 15 seconds on my time,” Carney said. “I think I had so much adrenaline because it was my last high school race. That helped me get through it.”
Carney worked his way through the field, getting to 77th place after the first mile, then moving up quickly from there. By the time he was done, Carney was in 27th place and 15th among those involved in trying to help their teams win titles with a time of 17:23.
Although there was a long wait for results to be sorted out, Carney ultimately learned that he had led the Warriors to their first state championship in the sport.
The strong recovery by the leader of the state champs makes Carney the latest Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month.
“I think my guys ran a great race at states,” Elk Lake coach Will Squier said. “Ryne Carney ran the best race he ever ran.”
After finishing second in the District 2 Class AA meet where Carney was the third-place individual, the Warriors thought that even their best race would not be quite enough to win a state title.
“That didn’t discourage us as much as it gave us some perspective of what to expect,” Carney said of finishing behind Holy Redeemer in the district race. “The week and a half practice in between was the hardest we ever worked. We tried to simulate what the state course would be like.
“We thought if we had a spectacular race, we could finish third. None of us expected to win.”
The Warriors essentially ran a spectacular race and the thought process did not change.
“After the race, we still didn’t think we won,” Carney said. “We thought maybe we got third.”
Instead, the Warriors posted a score of 138, just ahead of Quaker Valley with 140 and North East with 144. Holy Redeemer settled for fourth.
“If you look at how close the margins were with the second-, third- and fourth- place teams, it’s just incredible,” Carney said. “We won by two points.
“At the state cross country meet, one second can make up four places.”
Carney, a three-time state qualifier, is a four-year member of both the cross country and track teams at Elk Lake. He won the District 2 Class AA title in the 3200 meters last spring with a time of 9:57.
Ryne is the son of Chris and Jennifer Carney of Dimock. His younger brother, Sean, was also part of the state championship team as Elk Lake’s fifth runner.
The Racing Reporter
Lee Roy Yarbrough: No Respect For Fear – “Lee Roy was one of the best racers I ever ran against,” said former NASCAR driver Sam McQuagg. “There are lots of good drivers, but he had natural driving talent that most of them don’t have.
“If you were ahead of him, you better watch out. If you blinked too many times he would pass you. And one of the best things about him, is he was not a dirty driver.”
Lee Roy Yarbrough in 1968.
Lee Roy Yarbrough was born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1938. His rise to fame was like a moth flying around a candle. He remained in the limelight only a few years before his NASCAR career burned out.
His first NASCAR race was in 1960. That year he only ran a single event. The following year he ran 12 races and finished 36th in points. In 1963, he ran 14 events with no wins.
His big opportunity came in 1967. Junior Johnson, who had retired from racing by this time, was not having much success with Darel Dieringer.
When 1969 rolled around, Lee Roy and Junior were ready. With a year to adjust, the team entered 30 of the 54 races and won seven. His record included 21 top-10 finishes, and was the first driver to win NASCAR’s version of the Triple Crow – the Daytona 500, the Firecracker 400, and the Southern 500.
His best season came in 1969, and even though he only had 30 starts that year, he won seven times and finished in the top-10, twenty one times.
“It was a great year," recalled Johnson. “We won half the races we ran. I'm not taking anything away from my car, but you just have to give it to him (Yarbrough). He was beyond any other driver there was at that particular time with taking chances and just going beyond what anybody thought anybody would do.
“He just out-nerved most of the drivers that he ran against that year. It was unbelievable to see the chances he'd take. Lee Roy had no, you might say, respect for fear at all. He just didn't. Nothing out-nerved him and that's basically the way he won some of them races we were in. He'd just keep going deeper and deeper. Whatever it took to beat somebody, that's what he did.”
Lee Roy drove for Junior Johnson from late 1967 through 1970. During his tenure with Johnson, he won 10 races, including the 1969 Daytona 500.
He was a supremely confident driver throughout his stock car racing career. In his early years, he was as cocky as they came, often bragging that he could do things with a fast car that others couldn’t.
And much of the time, he was correct.
But his problems began in 1970, after winning only one race.
His life was problematic and filled with mysteries, but he also had many demons inside.
He was a brawler, who got the reputation as the only man tough enough to take on the gigantic Tiny Lund. The two drivers weren’t exactly enemies, just friends who didn’t see eye to eye, and wouldn’t take time to talk things out.
“Lee Roy and Tiny started fighting before the race,” said car owner Bud Moore, “And they fought some more after the race. Then we took off. We got up in the air and Lee Roy and Tiny started fighting all over again. I thought they were going to tear the sides out of the thing. It’s a wonder we didn’t crash with them two boys fighting like that.”
He was one of the first to lavish praise on his crewmembers during post-race interviews, and he was often heard thanking the Lord for his driving talents.
And then as suddenly as he rose upwards, the downward spiral set in.
He was gone in a short time.
Friends remembered bizarre violence. One afternoon after returning from the track to his motel room, he was raging mad. He snatched his wife up by the hair of the head and dragged her out of the room, kicking her as he dragged her along the hallway.
He had a bad crash during a test session while driving for Junior in April, 1970. After that he started drinking pretty bad, and using painkillers. He spent days sitting, or out on a lake in a boat, drinking.
“I don’t really know what happened to him, but I know he started drinking pretty bad,” continued McQuagg. “Some folks thought it might have been caused by Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but I don’t think he was ever the same after that hard crash.”
In 1972, he drove in 18 NASCAR races with nine top-10 finishes.
That was his last year of competition. His racing career ended at the age of 33.
Over the next few years, he was picked up several times by Jacksonville police.
Sometimes it was for fighting, at other times it might be drunkenness.
He wandered the streets aimlessly.
On the morning of February 13, 1980, he was at his mother’s house in Jacksonville. It was the day of the twin 125-mile qualifying races at Daytona. Lee Roy was destitute and his mind was playing tricks on him.
He put his hands around his mother’s neck and said, “Mama, I hate to do this, but I’ve got to kill you.”
One of his nephews that was in the house heard the commotion and came in. Looking around, he grabbed a quart jar of preserves off the kitchen table and busted it on Lee Roy’s head.
The police came and took him to a psychiatric ward. Eventually he was judged incompetent to stand trial. It was at that time doctors discovered the lesions in his brain.
Was it the demons inside his head, or was it the hard crashes he had taken?
Prior to 1980, Junior Johnson had spent thousands of dollars on Lee Roy, taking him to the best psychiatrists and hospitals available.
“Lee Roy was capable of winning any race,” said Johnson. “A lot of people have an opportunity to win four or five times a year, but he was one driver that I know that had the capability of winning every race he went to. He was just a great race driver. I enjoyed working with him, and I was sorry his career was cut short.”
His death came on December 7, 1984 from internal head injuries after a seizure-related fall.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has again won the NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award. The award is Earnhardt Jr.’s sixth consecutive and moves him to third all-time behind Bill Elliott (16) and Richard Petty (nine).
“I’ve been fortunate enough to win this award now for the sixth time, and I can tell you it never gets old.” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I’ve said it many times before, that this award is special because it’s the voice of the fans.”
Next Week: Business Might be Bad, But NASCAR Ain’t Dying.
Racing Trivia Question: Who will be the three Joe Gibbs drivers in 2009?
Last Week’s Question: Which old time driver was often called, “The Wilkes County Wildcat?” Answer: Junior Johnson.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: email@example.com.
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