BULLS GAP — John Blankenship turned in a dominant performance Saturday night in winning the Ray Cook-promoted Spring Nationals Series Spring Thaw at Volunteer Speedway, pocketing $10,000 for the victory.
The 31-year-old racer grew up in Williamson, W.Va., but has called Knoxville his home for the past eight years.
“I’ve won on the national tour with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and those wins are special,” Blankenship said after climbing from his car in Victory Lane. “But I’ll have to say that finally being able to win a big race here at Volunteer Speedway like this and over such as strong field of competitors, this victory ranks right at the top for me in my career. ...
“Having lived here in East Tennessee now for several years and with our race team being located in Morristown, it’s good to get this win for all the local fans.”
Blankenship toured the high banks at 13.413 seconds to set the fast time in qualifying over the 31 entrants. The four heat races were won by Blankenship, Chris Madden, Scott Bloomquist and Eric Jacobsen.
Steve Casebolt ($5,000), Madden ($2,500), Billy Ogle, Jr. ($2,000) and Bloomquist ($1,500) rounded out the top five in the 12th annual Spring Thaw.
Jensen Ford won the Fastrak Racing Series-sanctioned Pro Late Model event, trailed by Tim Byrd, Hendrick Motorsports development driver Chase Elliott, John Tweed and Mike Smith.
For more on the season opener at The Gap, visit the Volunteer Speedway website.