By admin | July 21, 2008
Gray rolls to impressive United Sprint Car Series victory at Volunteer Speedway
By Robert Walden
BULLS GAP, Tenn. (July 19) — Six-time and defending O’Reilly United Sprint Car Series national champion Terry Gray of Bartlett, Tenn., had never laid eyes on Volunteer Speedway until Saturday night’s running of “Summer Fury at The Gap.” But when the checkered flag waved, Gray was parked in victory lane celebrating another accomplishment in his storied sprint car racing career – winning on his first-ever visit to a racetrack.
“Man, I’ve not had this much fun in a race car in quite some time,” said the smiling Gray in victory lane. “The banking here is something else. I guess it’s just the racer in me, but I love going fast. And I’m telling you, this is one fast racetrack. I believe I’ve found myself a new favorite track.
During K&N Filters qualifying, Gray brought a roar from the grandstands as he toured the high-banked, 4/10-mile oval at a new track record time of 11.672-seconds (123.384 mph), which lowered the previous fastest lap ever run at “The Gap” of 11.696-seconds, established last year by World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series star Joey Saldana of Brownsburg, Ind.
“I’m telling you, this is one racy track,” said Gray. “The track was very well prepared tonight. You had not one, but two and three grooves for racing. You could go up top and just rim-ride around the outside, and then racing off the corners you definitely were carrying the momentum down the straightaway. Or you could run down on the bottom or right through the middle of the track in the turns. I had no idea what the existing track record here was, and to know I was able to set a new track record is very cool. This might’ve been my first trip to Volunteer Speedway, but you can rest assured that I’m looking forward to getting back here again.”
Steven Lines from Melbourne, Australia, grabbed the lead racing off turn two on the opening lap over Ronnie Blair, Gray, David Adkins and Johnny Bridges. The event’s first caution waved on the third lap when Bronzie Lawson IV looped his sprinter between turns three and four.
With Lines showing the way out front on the restart, followed by Blair and Gray, the “Bartlett Bullet” Gray wasted no time in working his was around Blair and into the runner-up position with a pass racing off turn two on the fifth circuit.
On lap seven Gray passed Lines low in turns one and two for the lead. And just one lap later, Lines did a 360-degree spin in turn three and lost two positions. Gray pulled away to a substantial lead by the race’s midway point.
On lap 22 the yellow flag waved when Brad Wickham and Jake McLain tangled between turns three and four. The fourth and fifth-place cars of Lines and three-time 2008 USCS feature winner Bridges spun to miss the incident. McLain was forced to park his ride, calling it a night, while the other three cars went to the rear of the field for the restart.
Back green and after completing just one circuit, on lap 23 Jon Stinson and Adkins were battling for a top-five finish when they got together with Wickham and Clint Weiss between turns one and two. The ensuing horrendous crash saw Adkins’ sprinter flip several times, catching enough air to rip the top wing off of Stinson’s car, while Weiss slammed the outside turn two wall. Adkins was shaken, but after treatment from track emergency personnel he was not transported to the hospital.
After the debris from the melee was cleared, with minor repairs Stinson and Wickham re-fired and joined the field at the rear for the final seven laps. Gray was the leader with Blair, Bridges and Lines directly behind.
But the night belonged to Gray, driving the Rislone Oil Stabilizer/Bar’s Leaks/B&W Trucking/Wesmar powered No. 10 J&J Chassis, as he easily won over Blair, Bridges and Lines, with Wickham a distant fifth.
Completing the top 10 at the checkers were 16-year-old rookie Stinson, Adkins, Weiss, McClain and Bronzie Lawson IV.
Gray collected a $300 bonus from the O’Reilly United Sprint Car Series for the new all-time record qualifying lap that not only bettered Saldana’s previous track record, but also bested the existing USCS 360 cubic inch sprint car Volunteer Speedway track record of 11.805 seconds set by Kenny Adams of Malabar, Fla., back on Aug. 18, 2000.
Gray won the six-lap Lucas Oil Power Dash that features the top six cars from the previous event. Johnny Bridges won the Engler Machine and Tool First Heat and Bronzie Lawson III was victorious in the ButlerBuilt Second Heat Race. Steven Lines again garnered the Hoosier Tire Young Gun off the race, awarded to the highest finishing driver under 25 years old.
Vic “The Thrill” Hill of Morristown paced the 19-car “Gateway Ford” Super Late Model field in qualifying by running a fast-lap of 12.377-seconds (116.344 mph) to earn the pole for the 35-lap feature.
Hill grabbed the lead over Jeff Maupin racing off turn two, and back around to the stripe to complete the opening lap Shane Roberts, Mike Smith and Mark Douglas rounded out the top five in the running order. The event’s first caution waved on the second lap when John King II got into the outside guardrail in the first turn. After heading into the pits to let his crew look the car over, King tagged on at the rear of the field for the restart.
The Delaware double-file restart had Hill all alone out front, with Maupin and Roberts lined up side-by-side behind, followed by Smith and Douglas. Running strong on the bottom, Douglas passed Roberts to move into the third spot racing off the fourth turn on lap 3. Douglas immediately began to challenge Maupin for the runner-up position, sticking his nose under Maupin (who was running the high groove) as they raced off the corners. But carrying the momentum off the high-side, Maupin would power back ahead of Douglas racing down the straightaway.
With Smith running in fifth and Bobby Mays in sixth, they tangled and both spun between turns three and four to bring out the caution. Both fell to the tail of the field going back green.
Hill once again sprinted out to an eight car-length advantage over Maupin, who had Douglas riding in his rearview mirror. Ninth-starting Kerry Jones passed Roberts racing off the second turn on the fifth circuit to move into fourth in the running order. Also making a strong run up through the field, after starting in 15th, was Dale Ball.
Ball found the outside groove to his liking as he began to pick off Michael Jackson, Travis Greer, legendary veteran Herman Goddard, Roberts, Chad Ogle and then around Bryan Hendrix racing off turn two on lap 14 to move into fifth. With the leader Hill working slower cars at the tail of the field, Maupin closed to within two car lengths on lap 20. Just one circuit later caution waved when Brandon James spun between turns three and four.Going back green on the Delaware double-file restart Hill had a clear view out front, with Maupin and Douglas behind the race leader, followed by Jones and Ball. Racing hard off into the first turn, Douglas and Maupin raced door-to-door off turn two. Still digging down on the bottom, battling Maupin for the runner-up spot, Douglas spun between turns one and two on lap 23 to bring out the caution.
The quartet of Hill, Maupin, Jones and Ball were walking in rhythm up front, but making noise racing his way back up through the field following his early race spin, Smith passed Jackson to move into the fifth spot on lap 24. The final caution waved on lap 29 when Mays slowed high in turn four with a broken rear-end, setting up a six-lap dash to the checkers.
Hill, driving the Landair Transport Inc./Pilot Travel Centers/Miller Brothers Coal/Qualcomm/Beamer’s Flooring Outlet/The Hightower Advertising Agency/VP Racing Fuel/Dan Estes Construction/Ohlins/Peterson Fluid Systems/Klushman Racing Components/Comp Cams/Edelbrock/CP Pistons/Brodix/Lunati Cranks/CV Racing Products/Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil/Jesel/Manley/RaceQuest Motorsports-David Bryant/Vic Hill Racing Engines/Fastlane Signs & Graphics/Real Wheels/American Race Tires/Team GRT Race Cars/No. 1 Chevrolet Impala SS, sped to his third feature win, with Maupin, Jones, Ball and Jones rounding out the top-five.
Completing the top 10 finishers were Ogle, Hendrix, Jackson, King and Goddard.
“This is a very good win for us tonight over a quality field of cars, and I hope this big crowd present enjoyed the racing,” said Hill while being interviewed in victory lane. “I’m telling you, we had a really strong field of cars here tonight for a weekly show. Anytime you can outrun Jeff (Maupin), Kerry (Jones), Dale (Ball) and ‘Pizza Boy’ (Mike Smith), Mark Douglas and others, you’ve had a good night. With our win and Maupin running second and Smith in fifth, that’s three Vic Hill Racing Engines in the top five, and I like seeing that.
“I’d like to commend Joe Loven (track owner) for having this place as racy tonight as it was, especially considering it was in the mid-90s today and with the winged sprint cars also racing. The track was multi-grooved. You could really sail the car off hard into the first turn and rim-ride around the top between turns one and two. By doing that you are really carrying some speed off turn two as you go down the backstretch. Our American Racers performed excellent tonight, and I really look forward to next week’s ‘Southern Nationals.’ I’m sure a strong field of cars will be here for the big race, but our car’s really been good all this season here at ‘The Gap’ and I’d love nothing more than to run up front and hopefully get another win.”
Dale Ball of Johnson City, driving the Smith Brothers Harley-Davidson of Johnson City/Alan Poyner Enterprises/Mainline Communications/Jim Schweitzer Inc./Charles Byrd and Son (Timmy Byrd) Logging/Broyles Tire/Twin D Auto & Truck Sales/Tri-City Rubber & Gasket Co./Advance Auto Parts/Bilstein Shocks/Steve “The Man” Williams/Warrior Race Cars/No. 2 Pontiac GTO, jumped into the lead at the drop of the green in the 25-lap “Courtesy Chevrolet” Crate Late Model feature, and when the checkered flag waved he was a full-straightaway ahead of runner-up Kelly Glass to record his first victory of the season. With the victory and five top-five finishes this season, Ball has narrowed Glass’ divisional track point standings lead down to eight points. Finishing third through fifth, respectively, were Chris Chandler, Vic Chandler and Tony Trent.
O’REILLY UNITED SPRINT CAR SERIES “SUMMER FURY AT THE GAP” (30 laps)
1. Terry Gray #10-Bartlett, TN
2. Ronnie Blair #35-Dayton, OH
3. Johnny Bridges #07-Cherryville, NC
4. Steven Lines #23-Melbourne, Australia
5. Brad Wickham #6-Forest City, NC
6. Jon Stinson #26s-Memphis, TN
7. David Adkins #27-Winston Salem, NC
8. Clint Weiss #0x-Phenix City, AL
9. Jake McClain #67-Indian Trails, NC
10. Bronzie Lawson III #3B-Raeford, NC
11. Bronzie Lawson IV #1-Raeford, NC
12. Tom Selhorst #3T-Clearwater, FL
13. Michael Craddock #31-Olive Branch, MS
14. Nick Bashford #24x-Mexico, NY
K&N Filters Fast Time Award: Terry Gray 11.672-seconds … 123.384 mph (New all-time track record.)
Lucas Oil Power Dash: Terry Gray, Steven Lines, Ronnie Blair, Johnny Bridges, Jon Stinson, Jake McLain.
Engler Machine and Tool First Heat Race: Terry Gray, Johnny Bridges, Steven Lines, Bronzie Lawson IV, Brad Wickham, Nick Bashford.
Butlerbuilt Second Heat Race: Bronzie Lawson III, Ronnie Blair, Jon Stinson, David Adkins, Clint Weiss, Tom Selhorst, Michael Craddock.
“GATEWAY FORD” SUPER LATE MODEL (35 laps)
1. Vic Hill #1-Morristown, TN
2. Jeff Maupin #0-Greeneville, TN
3. Kerry Jones #6-Bristol, TN
4. Dale Ball #7-Johnson City, TN
5. Mike Smith #4-Rogersville, TN
6. Chad Ogle #10-Sevierville, TN
7. Bryan Hendrix #5-Knoxville, TN
8. Michael Jackson #Q-Greeneville, TN
9. John King II #11k-Kingsport, TN
10. Herman Goddard #22-Knoxville, TN
11. Travis Greer #11g-Marion, VA
12. Marty Calloway #7c-Maynardville, TN
13. Phil Helton #24h-Clinton, TN
14. Brandon James #j1-Newport, TN
15. Bobby Mays #25-Jonesborough, TN
16. Mark Douglas #52-Knoxville, TN
17. Shane Roberts #32w-Bluff City, TN
18. Dempsey Harold Jr. #09-Church Hill, TN
Did Not Start: Dennis Stiles #00-Jonesborough, TN
“COURTESY CHEVROLET” CRATE LATE MODEL (25 laps)
1) Dale Ball #2; 2) Kelly Glass #01; 3) Chris Chandler #8; 4) Vic Chandler #88; 5) Tony Trent #18; 6) Josh Henry #B00; 7) Jackie Hughes #27; Ken Wilkerson #21; 9) Allen Carrier #57; 10) Joe “Dirt” Good #911; 11) Ricky Moore #75; 12) Mark Sant #79w; 13) Hugh “Wishbone” Scalf #56; 14) Tommy Eastridge #37; 15) Travis Trent #5; 16) James Cole #5c; 17) Larry Rowe #R0; 18) Brent Hensley #70; 19) Jeff Maupin #0; 20) Jerry Broyles #72
Topics: ET Racing |
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