Posted: 11:45 pm Monday, January 9th, 2017
By Doug "Fireball" Turnbull
John Wes Townley will not race in 2017. A source says that the 27-year-old Watkinsville, Georgia native has decided to end his racing career and take some college courses. Townley also got engaged to girlfriend Laura Bird in the autumn of 2016 and his settling down includes not competing in NASCAR.
Concord, North Carolina-based Athenian Motorsports, owned by Townley’s father and Zaxby’s co-founder Tony Townley, is also ceasing operations. The team had fielded entries for Townley in the Camping World Truck Series, Xfinity Series, and ARCA Racing Series the past couple of seasons. Several drivers also filled-in for Townley in some respect for the team the past two seasons, due to either scheduling conflicts or injuries. Athenian Motorsports is in the process of selling its inventory.
Townley has raced since his childhood and has competed in NASCAR since he was 18. With Zaxby’s sponsorship in almost every race, Townley was able to stay in NASCAR with first other teams and then his own. In 2015, Townley won his first-career NCWTS race – a fuel mileage gamble to win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Townley also won the 2013 and 2016 season-opening Daytona International Speedway races in the ARCA Series.
Townley had a down final season in 2016, despite his ARCA win. He missed two races mid-season with a concussion and the final three with an ankle injury. Townley did score two NCWTS poles, but had only two top 10 finishes in 18 races. His final race saw the No. 05 Chevy place 21st at Texas Motor Speedway. That race was fittingly right around the time that he got engaged.
Brian Scott, similar to Townley in age, also decided to retire from racing following the 2016 season. He, too, raced largely with family sponsorship, but had managed to parlay it up the ladder into one full season in what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Scott has already begun another job and is married, with children.
The biggest memory of Townley from 2016 will certainly be the awkwardly long and strange fight with Spencer Gallagher, after the two wrecked at Gateway Motorsports Park. The video went viral and certainly is not a highlight any driver wants on their season reel.
Check with the WSB Radio Race Blog later this week for the Georgia drivers 2016 review and 2017 preview.