October 21, 2011 – Cooper streaks to Volunteer Speedway Fastrak Racing Series ‘Grand Nationals’ victory
Cooper streaks to Volunteer Speedway Fastrak Racing Series ‘Grand Nationals’ victory
By Robert Walden
Volunteer Speedway Media/Public Relations
BULLS GAP, Tenn. (Oct. 21) — Lee Cooper of Greer, S.C., has three Fastrak Racing Series Pro Late Model regional touring championships to his credit, but his sights this weekend in East Tennessee are set much higher – winning the $250,000 Grand Nationals at Volunteer Speedway and pocketing the $30,000 champion’s payout.
With 40 Fastrak Racing Pro Late Models representing nine states in attendance at “The Gap” for Shell Racing Solutions Top Gun Time Trials, Brian Connor of Martinez, Ga., was quickest with a lap at 13.780 seconds.
Winning the four respective heat races were Connor, Johnson City, Tenn.’s Dale Ball, Daniel Baggerly of Rural Retreat, Va., and Cooper. Steve Hendren of Rutherfordton, N.C., and fellow Tar Heel state racer Ryan Atkins of Mount Airy won the B-mains.
Connor and Ball led the stellar 24-car field to the green flag, with Connor grabbing the lead over Ball on the opening lap racing off turn two, with Cooper, Baggerly and Vic Chandler in tow. Cooper got around Ball to move into second racing off the fourth turn on lap 3, and just two circuits later the event’s first caution waved when Wisconsin chauffeur David Fieber’s engine went up in smoke entering the first turn.
Connor chose the inside and Cooper the outside of row one for the double-file restart, and back up to speed Connor powered back into the lead over Cooper and Ball. At the end of the backstretch racing into turn three on lap 7, Mike Smith got to the inside of Chandler to take over the fifth spot, and with the door open Jensen Ford waltzed right in and moved to sixth, dropping Chandler back into seventh place. The caution waved on lap 12, when Matt Long slowed at end of the front straightaway with a flat left-rear tire.
On the ensuing restart, several cars including Chandler, David Watts, Mike Smith, Dan Angelicchio, Ryan Montgomery, Brandon Umberger, Jerry Broyles, Ryan Atkins, Bobby Whitling, Blake Bentley and Josh Holtgraver got together in turn two and wrecked to immediately see the yellow wave once more. All continued with damaged sheet-metal except for Chandler, Smith and Broyles, who saw their race end parked in the pits.
Back under green Connor still was showing the way out front over Cooper, Ball, Baggerly and the hard-charging Mike Pegher Jr. Hendren used the high-line to get around Kenny Peeples Jr. between turns three and four on lap 18 to move into sixth in the running order. A strong fourth-place run for Baggerly ended in disappointment when his car experienced driveline issues and slowed to a stop on the backstretch on lap 26 to bring out the caution.
With the green flag waving Connor and Cooper raced off into the first turn, but carrying the momentum off the high-side exiting turn two onto the backstretch, Cooper powered into the lead on lap 26 over Connor. The caution appeared on lap 30, when Umberger and Montgomery tangled in the fourth turn.
Poised for yet another double-file restart, Cooper and Connor brought the field up to speed from the front row. Just behind Cooper and Connor in the running order, Pegher passed Ball between turns three and four on lap 39 to move into the third spot, while a spirited battle for position involving Rob Blair and Hendren was taking place behind 2011 Volunteer Speedway Pro Late Model champion Ball.
While Pegher closed to the rear bumper to challenge Connor for the runner-up spot, out front the race belonged to Cooper, driving the Excel Racing Solutions/McCarter Towing/Gault’s Used Cars/Southeastern Converters/Envy Suspension/Big A’s Custom Graphics/LeCo Motorsports/Kelcar Motorsports Media/Barry Wright Race Cars/No. 57 Chevrolet Camaro SS, as he recorded the victory over Connor, Pegher, Ball and Rob Blair.
Finishing sixth through tenth were Hendren, Watts, David Smith (started 24th and finished eighth), Peeples and Max Blair.
”Well that’s one down and we’ve got another race tomorrow night and hopefully we can get us another win,” said Cooper following the event as the top finishers were going through post-race technical inspection. “There’s a lot of very good race cars here for these final two rounds of the ‘Grand Nationals’ and a lot of money is at stake, and you’ve just got to get up on the wheel and take care of business. I’ve been fortunate to win a Fastrak touring event here in the past, and I really like racing at Volunteer Speedway, but for some reason the last three or four times we’ve just not ran all that great when we’ve been here.
“But we had a really good car tonight, and I could basically drive it anywhere on the track I needed – either down low, in the middle or up top around the cushion. Kirk (Loudy) at Envy Suspension has helped us out with our shocks, and I believe they really played a key part in the handling of the car tonight. This win puts us inside the top 10 in points entering tomorrow night’s final round, and anything can happen. As a racer all you can do is just take care of business behind the wheel and then let the cards fall where they land, and with a little luck hopefully we can get another win and take the $30,000 and big trophy back home to South Carolina once the points are tallied up.”
Shannon Davidson of Mooresburg passed Mike Keith for the lead on lap 5 of the “Gunslingers of Kingsport” Hobby Stock feature and never looked back en route to recording his second victory this season. Davidson was chased to the checkers by Jamie Whitt, Keith, Jon Cook and Jesse Wilder.
With the Classic cars making their first-ever appearance on the high banks at Volunteer Speedway, Phillip Sands of Knoxville captured the win over Bart Baxter, Phillip Shockley, Joe Keck and Bobby Pressley.
Another complete Fastrak Racing Series Pro Late Model $250,000 Grand Nationals racing program consisting of qualifying, heat races, B-mains and the showcase 50-lap feature event is scheduled on Saturday, Oct. 22. Also racing will be the “Gunslinger of Kingsport” Hobby Stock and Classic divisions.
Pit gate opens at 2 p.m. and the grandstand gate opens at 5 p.m. Hotlaps are tentatively scheduled to get started at 6:30 p.m., to be followed by qualifying and then racing action getting the green flag around 8 p.m.
Adult grandstand admission is $20 nightly, with kids 12-and-under admitted free in the grandstands. Pit and tier-parking admission is $30.
FASTRAK RACING SERIES PRO LATE MODEL $250,000 “GRAND NATIONALS” – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21 – VOLUNTEER SPEEDWAY – BULLS GAP, TN
Showing Finish Position, Starting Position In Parentheses, Driver Name, Car #, Hometown,
1. (4) Lee Cooper #57-Greer, SC
2. (1) Brian Connor #77-Martinez, GA
3. (15) Mike Pegher Jr. #1c-Cranberry Township, PA
4. (2) Dale Ball #2-Johnson City, TN
5. (16) Rob Blair #11a-Centerville, PA
6. (17) Steve Hendren #29-Rutherfordton, NC
7. (9) David Watts #04-Buchanan, VA
8. (24) David Smith #11-Inman, SC
9. (8) Kenny Peeples Jr. #k22-Rural Retreat, VA
10. (22) Max Blair #111-Centerville, PA
11. (11) Dan Angelicchio #14-New Stanton, PA
12. (10) Matt Long #25-Concord, NC
13. (19) Bobby Whitling #7w-Franklin, PA
14. (13) Brandon Umberger #54b-Rural Retreat, VA
15. (18) Ryan Atkins #9-Mount Airy, NC
16. (20) Blake Bentley #27-Duncan, SC
17. (23) Josh Holtgraver #00-Pittsburgh, PA
18. (12) Ryan Montgomery #12-Fairmont, WV
19. (5) Jensen Ford #83-Piney Flats, TN
20. (3) Daniel Baggerly #16-Rural Retreat, VA
21. (7) Mike Smith #4-Rogersville, TN
22. (6) Vic Chandler #88-Weaverville, NC
23. (14) Jerry Broyles #72-Jonesborough, TN
24. (21) David Fieber #1-Neenah, WI
HEAT #1 (Top 4 Finishers Transfer – 10 Laps): 1) Brian Connor, 2) Jensen Ford, 3) David Watts, 4) Brandon Umberger, 5) Steve Hendren, 6) David Fieber, 7) Josh Holtgraver, 8 ) Bobby Rohrer, 9) Jordan Dill, 10) Shawn Jett
HEAT #2 (Top 4 Finishers Transfer – 10 Laps): 1) Dale Ball, 2) Vic Chandler, 3) Matt Long, 4) Jerry Broyles, 5) Ryan Atkins, 6) David Smith, 7) Max Blair, 8 ) Joel Bennett, 9) Trent Ivey, 10) Jake Eaton
HEAT #3 (Top 4 Finishers Transfer – 10 Laps): 1) Daniel Baggerly, 2) Mike Smith, 3) Dan Angelicchio, 4) Mike Pegher Jr., 5) Bobby Whitling, 6) Chris Steele, 7) Bobby Mays, 8 ) Travis Blackwell, 9) Troy Shields, 10) Bill Cunningham
HEAT #4 (Top 4 Finishers Transfer – 10 Laps): 1) Lee Cooper, 2) Kenny Peeples Jr., 3) Ryan Montgomery, 4) Rob Blair, 5) Blake Bentley, 6) Joel Prosser, 7) Teddy Tate, 8 ) Ashley Brewster, 9) Tim Byrd – Did Not Start: Steve Dixson
B-MAIN #1 (Top 4 Finishers Transfer – 10 Laps): 1) Steve Hendren, 2) Bobby Whitling, 3) David Fieber, 4) Josh Holtgraver, 5) Bobby Rohrer, 6) Jordan Dill, 7) Shawn Jett, 8 ) Travis Blackwell – Did Not Start: Chris Steele, Bobby Mays, Jordan Dill, Bill Cunningham
B-MAIN #2 (Top 4 Finishers Transfer – 10 Laps): 1) Ryan Atkins, 2) Blake Bentley, 3) Max Blair, 4) David Smith, 5) Joel Prosser, 6) Tim Byrd, 7) Jake Eaton, 8 ) Joel Bennett, 9) Teddy Tate, 10) Ashley Brewster, 11) Trent Ivey – Did Not Start: Steve Dixon
“GUNSLINGERS OF KINGSPORT” HOBBY STOCK (20 laps)
1) Shannon Davidson #4; 2) Jamie Whitt #1; 3) Mike Keith #80; 4) Jon Cook #0z; 5) Jesse Wilder #79; 6) Chris Chandler #15; 7) Duke Bare #62; 8 ) Jesse Helton #28; 9) Danny Helton #88
CLASSIC (20 laps)
1) Phillip Sands #5; 2) Bart Baxter #7; 3) Phillip Shockley #34; 4) Joe Keck #7k; 5) Bobby Pressley #07 – Did Not Start: Jim Yeary #8; Marvin Ray #98; Logan Dukes #20; Matt Shockley #6