Bulls Gap, TN — The Memorial Day holiday weekend is the official kickoff into summer. But more importantly, it’s time the country pauses to remember those who proudly wore the uniform while defending our freedoms and died serving in the United States Armed Forces.
Volunteer Speedway held round three (five scheduled in 2015) of the Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series “Border Wars – Carolinas vs. Tennessee” Saturday night.
Five-time (1997, 1998, 2000, 2005 and 2009) Super Late Model track champion Vic Hill of Mosheim, rolled to victory in a dominating performance for the $4,000 Carolina Clash payday.
Visit an auto dealership and sit behind the wheel of a new vehicle, and you quickly realize there’s nothing like that “new car smell.” The same can be said for a new race car, make that a new Longhorn Chassis for Hill.
Hill, the noted race engine builder who is approaching 100 career victories at Volunteer Speedway, debuted a new Longhorn Chassis at “The Gap.” The racing chassis company is owned by NASCAR championship-winning drivers, brothers Terry and Bobby Labonte. Terry was just this past week voted into the 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame class that will be inducted next January in Charlotte, N.C.
With 25 entries for the event, Ben Watkins of Rock Hill, S.C., was fastest in qualifying at 12.470 seconds, with Hill close behind in second at 12.527.
Watkins rocketed out to lead at drop of the green flag over Hill, Pierce McCarter, Chad Ogle and Mark Douglas. But Hill wasn’t content to ride in the second spot, as he immediately began pressuring the current Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series point leader Watkins.
Knowing his way around the legendary high banks at “The Gap” well enough to drive while wearing a blindfold, Hill powered his way past Watkins for a lead he would never relinquish on lap 6 and never looked back. Hill quickly pulled out to a almost a full-straightaway advantage over Watkins, before the event’s first caution waved on lap 16 when Dale Ball spun in the fourth turn.
Off the ensuing restart Hill shot back out to the lead. But Watkins got up high against the cushion around turns one and two getting out of shape, allowing McCarter, Ogle and Douglas to all get past him before settling into fifth in the running order.
Ogle passed McCarter racing off the fourth turn on lap 18 to take over second, and just four circuits later Hedgecock moved around Watkins to take over the fifth spot. The young wheelman Hedgecock continued his charge forward as he passed Douglas for fourth on lap 24 racing off the fourth turn.
While Hill was cruising out front with a big lead, behind him the racing action kept the fans’ attention between Ogle, McCarter, Hedgecock, Douglas, Mark Vineyard and Watkins. A late race caution on lap 37, when Steve Smith slowed to a stop high in turn four, closed the field up for a three-lap sprint to the checkered flag.
Back under green, Hill was in command out front. But behind him Ogle and Hedgecock were engaged in battle, throwing slide-jobs on one another at both ends of the track in the high-banked turns before Hedgecock seized the runner-up spot. McCarter also got around Ogle for position.
But the race belonged to the 51-year-old veteran Hill, who drove the Landair Transport Inc./Pilot Travel Centers/The Orthopaedic Institute of Western Kentucky/Mega Plumbing of the Carolinas/Diamond Shine Pressure Washing/Total Control Shocks & Suspensions/American Racing Tire South/Vic Hill Race Engines/ Preferred Sandblasting & Painting/Fastlane Signs & Graphics/VP Racing Fuels/Waterman Racing Components/Velocita/Sweet Mfg./FK Rod Ends/Pink Carburetors/Beyea Custom Headers/Keyser Manufacturing Co./Maxima Racing Oil/CP Pistons/Jones Racing Products/Bert Transmission/Braswell/Edelbrock/Jesel/Comp Cams/MSD Ignition/Manley Performance/Dyer’s Top Rods/CV Racing Products/AR Bodies/Longhorn Chassis/No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro SS, to his first career Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series touring victory.
Chasing Hill to the checkered flag was Hedgecock, McCarter, Ogle and Vineyard.
Completing the top 10 finishers were Watkins, Douglas, Roger Best, Dusty Carver and Forrest Trent.
“It’s great to be back in victory lane, because it’s been a while,” said a smiling Hill after climbing from his car on the front straightaway to cheers from the crowd. “This is the first race I’ve won since a Ray Cook ‘Southern Nationals’ event back in 2013. A lot of work has gone into getting this new Longhorn Chassis race car ready for this weekend. It’s taken a lot of hours back at the race shop, because we started out with just a bare frame about 10 days ago.
“I can’t thank Shawn Gage, Rich Miller, Barrett Lowe, Chris Sponcia, Robbie Brown, Joe Orr, Matthew (Longhorn Chassis), enough for the work they’ve done, and also my wife Christa Hill for her support. To be able come right out the first race and win with a new car, it’s just a great feeling. We’re all very happy with how the car ran. I’ve been behind the wheel of some good race cars over the years, but I don’t believe I’ve ever driven a better car than what this Longhorn Chassis is. It’s a very good race car, and I’m really excited with our racing program going forward the remainder of this season. Hopefully this is just the first of several other wins we’ll get.”
Tim Byrd, already with two Sportsman Late Model victories this season to his credit, jumped out to the lead at start of the 30-lap feature and was looking to add one more to the win column. Byrd led Forrest Trent, Jody Horton, Jerry Broyles and Gary Crittenden in the early going.
Trent passed Byrd for the lead on lap 7. Byrd’s race came to a premature end when he slowed at end of the backstretch high in turn three to bring out the caution after j-bar broke under rear of the car.
Back under green, Trent, from Talbott, looked strong out front and never was seriously challenged for the top spot in recording his second victory of the season driving the Trent Logging/Service 101 Recovery & Property Management/Van Lester Trucking/Cowtown Farms/VP Racing Fuels/Hoosier Racing Tire/Rocket Chassis/Eagle Racing Engines/No. 101 Chevrolet Camaro SS, to the win over Horton, Crittenden, Broyles and Andy Ogle.
Completing the top 10 finishers were Marty Calloway, Stephen Martin, Michael Boyd, Austin Atkins and Eric Weber.
Kurt Owens of Newport was pressured over the first 20 laps of the Modified Street feature by Gary Blanken, before Blanken’s race ended with mechanical issues. Owens went on to record his first win of the season over Tony Horton, Shannon Emery, Bret Banks and Tyler Smith.
The next race at Volunteer Speedway will be on Saturday, June 13 for the Southern All-Star Racing Series third annual Scott Sexton Memorial.
CAROLINA CLASH SUPER LATE MODEL SERIES – “BORDER WARS” (40 LAPS … $4,000-TO-WIN) – SATURDAY, MAY 23, 2015
Showing Finish Position, Starting Position In Parentheses, Driver Name, Car Number, Hometown, Laps Completed In Parentheses
1. (2) Vic Hill #1-Mosheim, TN (40)
2. (5) Cory Hedgecock #23-Loudon, TN (40)
3. (3) Pierce McCarter #51-Gatlinburg, TN (40)
4. (4) Chad Ogle #10-Sevierville, TN (40)
5. (10) Mark Vineyard #4-Powell, TN (40)
6. (1) Ben Watkins #16-Rock Hill, SC (40)
7. (6) Mark Douglas #52D-Knoxville, TN (40)
8. (7) Roger Best #007-Louisville, TN (40)
9. (9) Dusty Carver #9-Englewood, TN (40)
10. (15) Forrest Trent #101-Talbott, TN (40)
11. (13) John Tweed #5-Greeneville, TN (40)
12. (18) Doug Sanders #42-Springwood, NC (40)
13. (12) Bobby Mays #25-Jonesborough, TN (40)
14. (20) Travis Greer #11g-Marion, VA (40)
15. (14) Jensen Ford #83-Jonesborough, TN (39)
16. (16) Ellery Leake #34-Knoxville, TN (39)
17. (11) Jeff Wolfenbarger #28-Clinton, TN (39)
18. (8) Steve Smith #3-Powell, TN (37)
19. (21) Brian Strickland #13-Lumberton, NC (37)
20. (23) Kevin Wilson #618-Stoneville, NC (34)
21. (22) Phil Helton #24-Clinton, TN (26)
22. (19) Dale Ball #2-Johnson City, TN (18)
23. (17) Hunter Best #007-Louisville, TN (16)
Did Not Start: Scott Shirey #10- Swansea, SC; Anthony Sanders #421-Spartanburg, SC
Fast Qualifier: Ben Watkins, 12.470 seconds
Lap Leaders: Ben Watkins (1-5), Vic Hill (6-40)
SPORTSMAN LATE MODEL (30 laps)
1. Forrest Trent #101
2. Jody Horton #56
3. Gary Crittenden #18
4. Jerry Broyles #72
5. Andy Ogle #68
6. Marty Calloway #79
7. Stephen Martin #46
8. Michael Boyd #3
9. Austin Atkins #14
10. Eric Weber #25
11. Warren McMahan #33
12. Adam Tolliver #28
13. Taran Hurst #22
14. Hugh Scalf #56
15. Richard Adkins #73
16. Chris Chandler #88
17. Rex Coffey #3
18. Tim Byrd #24
19. Chris Pendleton #15
20. Tim Maupin #2
21. Mike Kelley #X
22. Bryson Dennis #15
23. Ricky Moore #75
24. Larry Grube #17
Did Not Start: Josh Evans #119, Adam Mitchell #50
MODIFIED STREET (25 laps)
1. Kurt Owens #14
2. Tony Horton #56
3. Shannon Emery #m2
4. Bret Banks #3
5. Tyler Smith #32
6. Dale Reed #52
7. Phillip Nichols #33
8. Kaleb Trent #3
9. Robbie Woods #2
10. David Bullington #20
11. Gary Blanken #5
12. Ronnie Roberts #21
13. Mike Mays #30
14. Landon Steele #18
15. Dave Smith #10
16. Craig Schmalzreid #6
17. Charlie Bates #27
Did Not Start: Vic Chandler #88, Jamie Whitt #1, Travis Light #18, Mike Kilian #94, Ralph Kilian #95
Story: Robert Walden, PR – Photos: Randall Perry