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Horton, Ballenger, Tharp, Blanken, Merritt visit victory lane at Volunteer Speedway
Jordon Horton of Sneedville captured the Steel Head Late Model victory, while Rusty Ballenger of Seymour recorded the Crate Late Model win, with Matt Tharp of Luttrell bringing home the Sportsman Late Model victory.
Gary Blanken of Russellville captured the Modified Street win, while Lee Merritt of Knoxville recorded the Classic victory.
The “Sneedville Sniper” Jordon Horton stopped the clock at 13.056 seconds in Steel Head Late Model qualifying to earn the pole starting position for the 30-lap feature. Horton powered out into the lead over fellow front-row starter Barrett Lowe, Layne Clifton, Bobby Giffin and David Crabtree.
Just outside the top five John Tweed, Gary Crittenden, Austin Neely, Michael Smith, Ellery Leake and Mitchell Childress were running high, low, and in the middle grooves around “The Gap.” Giffin saw a solid run end prematurely while running in the fourth spot as he slowed and entered the pits on lap 11.
Crabtree was up-on-the-wheel and coming after the leader Horton. But Horton held on for a flag-to-flag run to victory over Crabtree, Lowe, Tweed and Clifton. … Leake, Crittenden, Neely, Childress and Andy Standridge rounded out the top 10 finishers, with each taking the checkered flag on the lead lap.
Trevor Sise was fastest over the 19-car Crate Late Model field in time trials at 13.342 seconds. On the first attempt to start the feature Brandon Tipton spun to the inside at exit of turn two, while up at front of the field racing down the backstretch into the third turn, fourth-starting Bobby Mays went for a wild ride when the throttle hung wide-open on his machine and he slammed against the outside wall around turns three and four to bring the caution out.
The second try to start the 30-lap feature saw Sise take the lead over Tim Byrd, Danny Yoder, Rusty Ballenger and Eli Beets. Behind them battling two- and three-wide for position were Vic Hill, Chris Chandler, Jason Welshan, Adam Tolliver, Greg Martin, Gary Crittenden and Tim Maupin.
Byrd dropped out of the race on lap 7, and Yoder began falling back losing spots to Ballenger, Hill and Welshan, Sise was feeling pressure up front for the lead. Ballenger worked slower traffic to his advantage to pass Sise for the lead on lap 16, and once he took the lead he managed to stay out front to hold off a hard-charging Welshan for the win. Finishing third through fifth, respectively, were Sise, Hill and Chandler.
Zach Sise was quickest in Sportsman Late Model time trials at 13.231, with the top 16 locking into the 20-lap feature and remainder of the field determined by a 10-lap B-main.
Sise grabbed the lead on the start over Tharp, Jed Emert, Rex Coffey and defending divisional champion Heath Alvey. But it was a madhouse scramble for position just outside the top five among Jake Whitehead, Terry Poore, Vic Chandler, Brad Seagle, Kenny Ford, Joshua Sneed and Bradley Lewelling.
A tremendous battle for the top three spots ensued between Sise, Tharp and Emert. Tharp got around Sise for the lead on lap 7, but the teenager Sise kept his cool and lap-after-lap in the corners stuck his nose underneath Tharp. However, on each occasion Tharp slammed the door shut and maintained his advantage out front. … Tharp would go on to capture the win over Sise, Emert, Alvey and Seagle.
Gary Blanken backed his fast time in Modified Street hot laps up by posting the quickest time in qualifying at 14.400 seconds to earn the pole starting position for the 20-lap feature. Blanken jumped out to the lead on the start over Shannon Emery and Wayne Rader.
While the front-running trio had their own battle going, behind them Dustin Ratliff, Tracy Wolfe, Rocky Ogle and McKenlee Hall were jockeying for position. Emery dropped out on lap 12, handing the runner-up spot over to Rader. … But there would be no catching Blanken as he captured his second straight victory over Rader, Ratliff, Wolfe and Ogle.
With a stellar field of 20 Classic cars lined up in the chute for qualifying, Shaun Sise was fastest on the clock at 16.573 seconds. Lee Merritt grabbed the lead on the start of the 20-lap feature, and while Sise stayed right on his back bumper throughout the entire race, Merritt never missed a beat out front. Merritt captured his first win of the season over Sise, Josh Chesney, Chris Worsham and Russell Hefti.
VOLUNTEER SPEEDWAY – BULLS GAP, TN – SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2018 – OFFICIAL RESULTS
STEEL HEAD LATE MODEL (30 laps)
1. Jordon Horton #56H
CRATE LATE MODEL (30 laps)
1. Rusty Ballenger #29
SPORTSMAN LATE MODEL (20 laps)
1. Matt Tharp #35
MODIFIED STREET (20 laps)
1. Gary Blanken #05
Did Not Start: Nick Presley #69
CLASSIC (20 laps)
1. Lee Merritt #14
Did Not Start: Michael Millsap #22, Tony Trent #501, Jacob Taylor #20
Volunteer Speedway (Recording Only): 423-235-5020 www.VolunteerSpeedway.com