BULLS GAP, Tenn. (July 16) — The Ray Cook-promoted Schaeffer Oil Southern Nationals Series made it annual mid-summer visit to Volunteer Speedway on Tuesday night for a $3,500-to-win Super Late Model main event, with Vic Hill of Morristown leading flag-to-flag to capture the victory.
Hill, whose Vic Hill Race Engines business is located just a couple of miles from the track in Mosheim, is a five-time Super Late Model champion at “The Gap.”
Four-time Southern Nationals Series touring champion Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., laid down the fastest lap in FK Rod Ends qualifying at 12.120 seconds.
The top-four on the speed chart from time trials drew to determine starting positions for the four-lap Performance Rod and Custom Dash, which would pay $300 to the winner and determine the first two rows for the 35 lap feature. Hill recorded the win over Jonathan Davenport, Madden and Eric Jacobsen.
At the drop of the green flag, Hill and Davenport rocketed down the front straightaway into the first turn, with Hill pulling ahead of Davenport to grab the lead. Behind them Madden, Chad Ogle and Steve Casebolt rounded out the top five in the running order completing the opening lap.
The event’s first caution waved on lap 7, when NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitor Joey Coulter slowed with a flat right-rear tire. After attention from his crew to change the tire, Coulter tagged on at rear of the field for the restart.
Two additional cautions waved quickly, first when Casebolt slowed with a flat tire on lap 8, and then on lap 9 when Ogle and Jacobsen tangled between turns one and two with both spinning.
Back under green and on a hooked up track, the lead quartet of Hill, Davenport, Madden and Billy Ogle Jr. were setting sail around the high banks running lap times in the 12.20s.
With Hill pulling out to a six car length advantage over Davenport, Madden was pressuring Davenport for the second spot. Racing into the first turn on lap 18, Madden dove to the inside pulling off a slider and moving up in front of Davenport to take the position.
With the five-to-go signal being given from the flag stand, Hill was riding four car lengths ahead of Madden. But on the white flag lap racing off into the first corner, Hill attempted to get under Coulter. However, he failed to complete the pass and thus Madden moved to Hill’s rear bumper.
Racing down the backstretch into turn three, Madden drove in deep on the bottom to stick his nose up alongside Hill’s left rear quarter panel. But Hill, driving the Landair Transport Inc./Pilot Travel Centers/The Orthopaedic Institute of Western Kentucky/Total Control Shocks & Suspensions/American Racing Tire South/Vic Hill Race Engines/VP Racing Fuels/Peterson Fluid Systems/CP Pistons/Sweet Mfg./Beyea Custom Headers/Manley Performance/Braswell Carburetors/Dart Blocks/Comp Cams/MSD Ignition/CV Racing Products/Jesel/Edelbrock/Dyers Top Rods/Bert Transmission/ARbodies/Fastlane Signs & Graphics/Warrior Race Cars/No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro, would not be denied a trip to victory lane in holding Madden off by 0.343 seconds for the $3,500 win. Finishing third through fifth, respectively, were Davenport, Ogle and a strong run for Josh Henry.
Completing the top 10 finishers (all on the lead lap) were Jeff Wolfenbarger, Jacobsen, Mark Douglas, Stacy Boles and Mark Vineyard.
”It’s about time we finally sealed the deal and got the win,” said a smiling Hill after climbing from his car in victory lane. “The way our season has gone, I know it’s never over until the checkered flag waves. We’ve had a fast car and on four different occasions we’ve been leading races and looked like we were headed for a win. One race we had either a big dirt clod or a rock come up and put a hole in the radiator, and other times it’s just something unexpectedly breaking on the car. You’re disappointed, but all you can do is regroup and come back give it another try.
“We’ve gotten off to a pretty good start in the first two races with this ‘Southern Nationals Series’ tour, and hopefully we’ll keep clicking off good finishes. I’d really like to be able to win the championship, but you’re looking at (Chris) Madden who’s won four titles, Davenport’s won a championship and then you know Billy’s (Ogle) also going to be in contention. We’ll give it our best effort and see how we do.”
Over the years Chris Chandler of Weaverville, N.C., has run many laps around the high banks at Volunteer Speedway and had even paced the field out front on occasion, but still hadn’t been able to capture that elusive first victory.
After grabbing the lead on the opening lap over pole-sitter John Tweed, Chandler, driving the TNT Race Cars No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro, proceeded to lead all 25 laps en route to recording the win. In writing his name in the track’s record book, Chris now joins his older brother (Vic) who has won both Super Late Model and Pro (Crate) Late Model races at “The Gap.”
Chandler captured the Fastrak Racing Series-sanctioned Pro Late Model victory over Tweed, Jerry Broyles, Dale Ball and Tim Byrd.
Chuck McMahan led the first 13 laps of the Mini Stock feature before being passed racing off the fourth turn by Randy Dykes of Newport, who held on to record the victory over McMahan, Chad Manning, Adam Tolliver and Jason Shelton.