Welshan banks $6,000 for Volunteer Speedway ‘Clash @ The Gap’ victory
Welshan banks $6,000 for Volunteer Speedway ‘Clash @ The Gap’ victory
By Robert Walden
Volunteer Speedway Media/Public Relations
BULLS GAP, Tenn. (Oct. 12) — The biggest Steel-Head Late Model event to ever be held in the Southeast, the Vic Hill Racing-promoted $6,000-to-win Clash @ The Gap with a total purse of over $21,000, attracted 48 competitors Saturday night to Volunteer Speedway.
Jason Welshan of Maryville passed “The Baxter Bullet” Mark Martin for the lead on lap 26 as they worked lapped traffic between turns three and four, and the 34-year-old Welshan would go on to capture the biggest win of his racing career.
The top-nine from qualifying locked into the starting lineup, with Martin setting fast-time at 13.087 seconds. Behind Martin, second quickest was Brandon Haley, followed by Welshan, John Tweed, Trevor Sise, Josh Collins, Ryan King, Cory Hedgecock and Ben Watkins.
Three heat races were run, with the top four finishers from each transferring to the 50-lap Clash @ The Gap main event.
Brad Lowe of Knoxville won the first heat over Raymond Brown, Bubba Russell and Greg Estes. Jason Trammell of Knoxville won heat two over Ross White, Steve Smith and Ethan Hunter. Barrett Lowe of Fairview, N.C., the grandson of former NASCAR Late Model Sportsman driver Bosco Lowe, won the third heat over Josh Henry, Jason Manley and Anthony White.
Two last chance qualifiers transferred two from each, with Todd Spivey winning over Ruben Mayfield in the first race and David Crabtree winning over Kasey Hall in the second LCQ.
Martin and “Cornbread” Haley led the 25-car starting field to the green flag from the front row, with Martin sprinting out to the lead on the opening lap over Welshan, Sise, Haley and Collins. While Martin was setting a blistering pace in the early going, Welshan had him in his sights.
Once Martin approached the cars running at the rear of the field to begin lapping them, Welshan closed to the leader’s rear spoiler and appeared to be waiting for the opportune time to make his move to take the lead.
On lap 26 racing off turn two down the backstretch, back-running cars were directly in front of Martin and Welshan. Racing into the third corner, with Martin in the high groove, Welshan drove to the inside to challenge for the lead. The duo made contact and got out of shape between turns three and four, and with fans standing to cheer the intense action a couple of young wheelmen, Sise and Hedgecock made it a four-car battle up front.
Welshan reeled his mount in following the contact with Martin to grab the lead over Sise and Hedgecock, with Martin relegated back to fourth in the running order.
“I had a really good car and I didn’t think (Mark) Martin would be able to continue running the pace he was in the early laps,” said Welshan following the race in victory lane. “I don’t know what tires Martin was running on the rear, but he just took off faster than we did on the beginning. After we started catching cars running at back of the field, I really closed in on Martin’s back bumper and I knew if I just was patient when we got into lapped traffic I would be able to overtake him.
“When we come off (turn) two and raced down the backstretch into the third turn, slower cars were right in front of me and Mark and when I saw him in the high groove, I just drove my car to the inside of him. We got together a little battling for the lead, but hey, that’s just good Saturday night short-track racing and putting a show on for the fans. Before me and Mark were able to gather our cars back in, we almost allowed both Trevor (Sise) and Cory (Hedgecock) to get past us.”
Collins got around Haley to move into fourth on lap 30 racing off the fourth turn, before the event’s final caution waved on lap 33 for debris in turn one. Back under green Welshan began to distance himself from Sise and Hedgecock, who were battling for the runner-up position.
Welshan, driving the Ronald Sexton Construction/Smith’s Auto Sales/Roger & Cindy Kerr’s Competition Racing Equipment/Jon’s Golf Carts/Hicks & Law Insurers Inc./Jackie Stinnett O’Reilly’s Auto Parts/Schoenfeld Headers/Bearden Oil Co./AFCO Shocks by Shorty/Baker’s Transmission/Stealth Carburetors/HKG Racing Products/Ronnie King Roofing/Larry Sullivan Sandblasting/Outlaw Graphics/DGR/American Racer Tires by Jeff Treece/B&B Race Engines/MasterSbilt Race Cars/No. 29 Chevrolet Camaro, cruised to the $6,000 victory over Sise who recorded a $4,000 payday for his runner-up finish, followed by Hedgecock, Martin and Collins.
Completing the top 10 finishers were Haley, Henry, Brad Lowe, Tweed and Barrett Lowe.
“This is just a tremendous victory for this race team and myself,” said Welshan. “I want to thank my car owners Roger and Cindy Kerr and Gary Rolfe for the opportunities they provide me. I also want to thank my dad, Cotton Welshan, for all his help he gives me working on the car during the week back in the shop and at the track on race night; plus support from my mother Shelia, my daughter Emily, my girlfriend Leanne, Brett Dukes and Ronald Sexton.”
The runner-up finish for 18-year-old Sise left the young wheelman feeling as though he had won the race.
“We came up one spot short at the finish, but man, what a strong run we had,” said the South-Doyle High School graduate. “There when (Jason) Welshan and (Mark) Martin got hooked up when battling for the lead, I thought I was maybe going to be able to get past them for the lead. But all in all, our race team, we’re pleased with how we ran. You look at the 48 cars present tonight and to qualify fifth and be able to finish in second place, we’ll take it. I really love racing at Volunteer Speedway and can’t wait until we get the opportunity to race here again.”
Brad Davis set fast-time at 15.131 seconds to earn the pole position for the $700-to-win Modified Hobby feature, but five-time Volunteer Speedway champion Warren McMahan jumped into the lead at the start. However, Davis got around McMahan racing off the fourth turn just two laps in to take the lead.
McMahan slowed on lap 4 with a flat tire to bring out the caution. Besides McMahan headed onto pit road for attention from his crew, sixth-running Eddie Morris also pulled into the pits. Both rejoined at the rear of the field for the restart.
Back under green, Davis led Tony Horton and Shannon Emery. Emery got around Horton for second on lap 11 between turns three and four. Up-on-the-wheel and hustling his ride around the high banks, McMahan passed Jon Cook on lap 16 for the fifth spot.
The lead trio of Davis, Emery and Horton tangled to bring out the caution on lap 18 between turns one and two.
On the restart Gary Blanken of Russellville, 1991 Volunteer Speedway Street Stock champion was on the point, leading McMahan. With the checkered flag waving, Blanken, driving the West Side Market/Britt’s Welding/Morristown Towing & Automotive/D.J’s Performance Race Engines/No. 5 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, took the win over McMahan, Eric Webber, Morris and Jerry Hux.
STEEL HEAD LATE MODEL “CLASH @ THE GAP” (50 laps) $6,000-TO-WIN
1) Jason Welshan #29; 2) Trevor Sise #73; 3) Cory Hedgecock #23; 4) Mark Martin #90; 5) Josh Collins #63; 6) Brandon Haley #51; 7) Josh Henry #B00; 8) Brad Lowe #16; 9) John Tweed #1; 10) Barrett Lowe #72; 11) Jason Manley #32; 12) David Crabtree #c5; 13) Ryan King #30; 14) Ethan Hunter #15; 15) Kasey Hall #42; 16) Ruben Mayfield #00; 17) Raymond Brown #93; 18) Ben Watkins #16w; 19) Todd Spivey #5; 20) Greg Estes #31; 21) Jason Trammell #90j; 22) Bubba Russell #32; 23) Ross White #0; 24) Anthony White #2x; 25) Steve Smith #3
QUALIFYING (Top 9 Transfer): 1) Mark Martin #90; 2) Brandon Haley #51; 3) Jason Welshan #29; 4) John Tweed #1; 5) Trevor Sise #73; 6) Josh Collins #63; 7) Ryan King #30; 8) Cory Hedgecock #23; 9) Ben Watkins #16
HEAT #1 (Top 4 Transfer): 1) Brad Lowe #16; 2) Raymond Brown #93; 3) Bubba Russell #32; 4) Greg Estes #31; 5) Todd Spivey #5; 6) Kasey Hall #42; 7) Heath Hindman #9; 8) Perry Delaney #77; 9) Brandon Williams #95; 10) Gary Crittenden #18; 11) Josh Evans #81 – Did Not Start: Jeff Maupin #24; Jeff Wolfenbarger #14
HEAT #2 (Top 4 Transfer): 1) Jason Trammell #90j; 2) Ross White #0; 3) Steve Smith #3; 4) Ethan Hunter #15; 5) David Crabtree #c5; 6) Dan Tipton #12; 7) Scott Shelton #5; 8) Heath Alvey #7; 9) Skimp Henry #1; 10) Wayne Rader #01; 11) Roger Best #00; 12) Keith Gregory #44 – Did Not Start: Bryan Hendrix #5
HEAT #3 (Top 4 Transfer): 1) Barrett Lowe #72; 2) Josh Henry #B00; 3) Jason Manley #32; 4) Anthony White #2x; 5) Ruben Mayfield #00; 6) Justin Beeler #25; 7) David Conley #1c; 8) Drew Kennedy #k37; 9) Bryan Shockley #17; 10) Ron Parker #75; 11) Mike Smith #4; 12) Travis Armes #01 – Did Not Start: Greg Martin #24m
LAST CHANCE QUALIFIER #1 (Top 2 Transfer): 1) Todd Spivey #5; 2) Ruben Mayfield #00; 3) Brandon Williams #95; 4) David Conley #1c; 5) Heath Alvey #7; 6) Wayne Rader #01; 7) Bryan Shockley #17; 8) Josh Evans #81; 9) Heath Hindman #9 – Did Not Start: Dan Tipton #12; Mike Smith #4; Keith Gregory #44; Jeff Wolfenbarger #14; Jeff Maupin #24
LAST CHANCE QUALIFIER #2 (Top 2 Transfer): 1) David Crabtree #c5; 2) Kasey Hall #42; 3) Scott Shelton #5; 4) Drew Kennedy #k37; 5) Travis Armes #01; 6) Ron Parker #75; 7) Roger Best #00; 8) Skimp Henry #1; 9) Justin Beeler #25; 10) Perry Delaney #77 – Did Not Start: Gary Crittenden #18; Greg Martin #24m; Bryan Hendrix #5
MODIFIED HOBBY (20 laps) $700-TO-WIN
1) Gary Blanken #5; 2) Warren McMahan #33; 3) Eric Webber #329; 4) Eddie Morris #2x; 5) Jerry Hux #01; 6) Jamie Whitt #1; 7) Jason Long #15; 8) Tony Horton #56; 9) Mike Mays #30; 10) Jon Cook #0z; 11) Austin Atkins #14; 12) Shannon Emery #m2; 13) Landon Williams #25; 14) Charlie Bates #27; 15) David Bullington #20; 16) Brad Davis #88; 17) Kaleb Trent #3; 18) Kurt Owens #14; 19) Robbie Woods #2; 20) Jesse Wilder #79; 21) Logan Morgan #7; 22) Terry Dean #47; 23) David Clark #1; 24) Travis Reno #77 – Did Not Start: Jesse Helton #28; Tracy Wolfe #11; Duke Bare #13