KNOXVILLE — A crowd of people stood in a dusty gravel parking lot hoping to win some Tony Stewart memorabilia. A rope divided the crowd in two. One side for heads. The other side, tails.

At noon on Aug. 11. Tony Stewart flipped a coin until there was one person left for his “Tony’s Flip it For Good,” event at the Fan Zone Stage.

The Harris family participated in the coin flip for good reason.

“My father passed away last summer of cancer,” Brad Harris said. “We tried to donate all we can.”

His wife Mallorie said the event is for a good cause and this is what brings the family out here.

“It is near and dear to our heart because his father just passed away,” Mallorie said.

The couple’s son, Peyton, who is a sprint car fan said he didn’t really have a strategy for the event, but knew why he was participating: for his grandpa.

Brad said if he could find a cure for cancer, he would.

“If there was a cure,” he said, “my dad would still be here.”

Pam Boas is Tony Stewart’s mother, and is on the board of directors for the Tony Stewart Foundation.

Boas explained the event.

“What it is, is a game of heads or tails with human players,” Boas said. “If heads comes up, the people on the heads side, they win. The other side leaves, then those people that are still left, they choose a side. Tony keeps flipping the coin until we have one person left and they are the big winner.”

The winner of the event was from Fresno, California. Her name is Kim Avedisian.

Avedisian said she did have a strategy for the coin toss.

“I kept switching at the last second. I wasn’t sure what side to go on,” Avedisian said. “Then, I started going opposite of everybody else.”

It worked for her.

Avedisian said the experience was a little surreal. She normally doesn’t have good luck in contests.

“It was awesome, because I never win,” Avedisian said. “This first win was great, because I am a big Tony Stewart fan.”

Avedisian received two Tony Stewart camp chairs, two blankets and a Tony Stewart signed die cast.

This is the first time the event has been held at Nationals. The first coin flip for the Tony Foundation was at Eldora last year where a record amount of participants in the coin flip made a Guinness world record.

Just under 600 people signed up for the coin toss at the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

Boas said Stewart does the event to raise money and gives it to organizations that serve critically ill physically challenged children, organizations that serve animals at risk, endangered, homeless and confused animals. The third component we do, is we take care of organizations that serve injured race drivers.

This is Boas first time at Nationals.

“This is the most amazing place and the people are awesome. We are loving this,” Boas said.

Ethan Goetz is a general assignment reporter for the Knoxville Journal-Express. He can be reached in the newsroom at 641-842-2155, ext. 19, or via email at reporter@pellachronicle.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ethan_Goetz.

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