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Hickman hustles to ‘King of The Gap’ Steel Head Late Model Championship $4,000 victory

By Volunteer Speedway | 11 August 2014 | 2014 | | 0 Comments   

Hickman hustles to ‘King of The Gap’ Steel Head Late Model Championship $4,000 victory

By Robert Walden
Volunteer Speedway – Media/Public Relations

BULLS GAP, Tennessee (Aug. 15, 2014) — You’ve got to put yourself into contention to be a winner, and that’s indeed what Riley Hickman of Cleveland, Tennessee, did Friday night at Volunteer Speedway.

When misfortune struck early race leader Jason Trammell and second-running Cory Hedgecock, Hickman, the defending Southern All-Stars Dirt Racing Series champion and current points leader, assumed the lead and he went on to capture the $4,000 “King of The Gap” Steel Head Late Model Championship presented by Vic Hill Racing victory.

Trammell set fast-time in qualifying at 13.175 seconds and Hedgecock was close behind at 13.197 out of the strong assembled field of 31 Limited (Steel Head) Late Models. The top-12 from time trials were locked into the main event, with a 15-lap B-main determining the final 12 starting berths in the 24-car field.

Trammell jumped out into the lead over Hedgecock, Jason Cardwell, Hickman and National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame member Ronnie Johnson at start of the 45-lap feature. With Trammell setting a blistering pace out front, by lap 10 both he and Hedgecock had caught the tail of the field to start lapping cars. The event’s first caution waved on lap 14 when Josh Henry spun in the fourth turn.

Only two laps back under green and the race’s second caution waved for Jensen Ford in the fourth turn, which ended with his car being towed back into the pits by the wrecker.

Off the restart, disaster for both leader Trammell and Hedgecock racing off turn two down the backstretch. A rear lift-bar broke under Trammell’s car and in turn snapped the driveshaft with debris bouncing underneath the car and puncturing the fuel cell. With Hedgecock riding right on his rear bumper, he drove through the spilled fuel and slammed hard up into the outside wall around turns three and four and the race was over for both front-row starters.

“Man, that’s just one of those unfortunate deals,” said Trammell following the race. “We had a really good car and I feel like we had a very good shot at bringing home the victory. It’s just tough to be leading and have something break on the car and take you out of the race.”

Following a red-flag situation to take care of the fuel dumped on the racing surface going back green the new leader was Hickman, followed by Johnson and Cardwell.

With Hickman and Johnson up front, the duo looked to settle the deal amongst each other and take both the winner’s and second-place purse monies back to the Chattanooga area. Hickman and Johnson quickly began to put some distance between themselves and their closest challengers.

Under a long green-flag stretch of racing, Hickman and Johnson established right at a full-straightaway advantage over third-running Cardwell with just five laps remaining. Johnson had nothing for Hickman, who drove the Hickman Manufacturing/American Billet/Austin Trucking/Tucker Mobile Home Service/JRI Shocks/Mayo Racing Components/CVR Race Cars/Vic Hill Race Engines/No. R1 Chevrolet Corvette, to the $4,000 victory. Finishing behind Hickman and Johnson were Cardwell, an impressive fourth-place effort for Stanley Donahoo and Jason Welshan in fifth.

Completing the top 10 finishers were Jamie Perry, Billy Ogle Jr., Eddie King Jr., Anthony White and Brad Lowe.

“Oh wow, this is definitely awesome to get this win tonight over such a strong field of drivers for this Steel Head Late Model Championship event,” said Hickman after climbing from his car in victory lane. “We had a good car, but if both (Jason) Trammell and (Cory) Hedgecock didn’t have trouble would I have won? You never know, because I believe during a long green-flag run when we all got to racing lapping cars, then the lapped traffic was going to make things interesting. I guess we were quite lucky to have not gotten caught up in their deal.

“With it putting me into the lead, I looked up on the scoreboard and I saw that Ronnie (Johnson) was behind me in second. He and I have raced against each other a lot, and I know he’ll race me hard but also with a lot of respect. Tonight we were just a little better than Ronnie and we got the win. Back in June at the Southern-All Stars race here, I won the Steel Head Late Model portion of the racing program and then tonight we get this big $4,000 victory. I’m really beginning to take a liking to racing on these high banks. This is a really great facility and it has such tremendous history in the sport over the many years in dirt racing. I want to thank Joe and Phyllis Loven and also Vic Hill for putting on this event.”

Both race winner Hickman and fast-qualifier Trammell each earned contingency awards from Velocita-USA; Hickman $500 off a new racing uniform and Trammell received new racing shoes and gloves.

Johnson for his runner-up finish and also Ruben Mayfield who earned the Hard Charger of the Race award, each received from High Velocity Heads and Intake Manifolds of Knoxville, Tennessee, a Super Sucker Carb Spacer.

Over the past couple of years Forrest Trent of Talbott had turned in several good finishes, but had never been able to get that elusive first-ever victory. But he took matters into his hands quickly at start of the Crate Late Model feature in grabbing the lead over Tim Byrd and Brad Coffey.

Byrd almost spun exiting the fourth turn on the opening lap and by the time he reeled his mount back in he had slipped back to sixth in the running order. While Trent was setting sail out front and putting real estate between his Service 101 Property Management/Trent Logging/Lester Trucking/Washing Equipment of Tennessee/McGuire Trucking/Cowtown Farms/Eagle Racing Engines/Rocket Chassis/No. 101 Chevrolet Camaro and his closest challengers, behind him the action was heated between Coffey, Jerry Broyles, Jason Welshan, Keith Chatman and Tim Maupin.

It’s said in motorsports that “rubbing is racing,” and all the action was behind leader Trent. Welshan was relegated to starting sixth, based on having recorded three straight victories. But from the drop of the green he was up-on-the-wheel and digging hard trying to work his way to the front.

With five laps remaining and Byrd running in third, Welshan was driving in hard on the bottom attempting to take the spot away. Welshan tried a slide job but hadn’t completely cleared Byrd and contact was made with the side of Byrd’s car. But after Byrd shoved back letting Welshan know he wasn’t pleased with the maneuver, Welshan nonetheless seized the position.

But nobody would catch Trent as he captured his first victory over Coffey, Welshan, Byrd and Broyles.

Completing the top 10 finishers were Chatman, Maupin, Bryan Courtney, Bryson Dennis and Gary Crittenden.

Jamie Whitt knows the way to victory lane quite well at Volunteer Speedway, having won many races over the years and three (2010, ’11 and ’12) consecutive Modified Hobby track championships. But the veteran racer from Wise, Virginia, it seemed had a monkey on his back this season and wins were hard to come by.

Whitt jumped out into the lead on the start over Robbie Buchanan and Chad Manning in the 25-lap Modified Hobby feature. Chris Rickett was on the move early as he passed Manning for third on lap 2. With Whitt riding on the point, Rickett pulled alongside Buchanan racing off turn two down the backstretch on lap 5. Buchanan got out of shape and almost spun in the fourth turn, allowing Rickett to move into second while Buchanan dropped back several positions.

Gary Blanken has been a strong contender all season, recording three victories. But his race ended prematurely, while running in the top-five with smoke coming out from underneath the car as he slowly made his way into the infield pits.

Whitt had a rearview mirror full of both Rickett and Brad Davis nearing the finish, with Rickett sticking the nose of his car under Whitt racing off the corners on several occasions. But Whitt would not be denied the $500 victory as he held on to win over Rickett, Davis, Dave Smith and Bret Banks.

“KING OF THE GAP” STEEL HEAD LATE MODEL CHAMPIONSHIP (45 LAPS … $4,000-TO-WIN) – FRIDAY, AUGUST 15, 2014

Showing Finish Position, Starting Position In Parentheses, Driver Name, Car Number, Hometown, Laps Completed In Parentheses, Money Earned

1. (3) Riley Hickman #r1-Cleveland, TN (45) $4,000
2. (5) Ronnie Johnson #5-Chattanooga, TN (45) $2,200
3. (4) Jason Cardwell #07-Knoxville, TN (45) $1,500
4. (6) Stanley Donahoo #00-White Pine, TN (45) $1,200
5. (7) Jason Welshan #29-Maryville, TN (45) $1,000
6. (9) Jamie Perry #p4-Ringgold, GA (45) $800
7. (12) Billy Ogle Jr. #66-Knoxville, TN (45) $700
8. (11) Eddie King Jr. #39-Knoxville, TN (45) $600
9. (13) Anthony White #2-Clinton, TN (45) $500
10. (14) Brad Lowe #16-Knoxville, TN (45) $450
11. (16) Ross White #0-Knoxville, TN (45) $350
12. (18) Jason Manley #32-Knoxville, TN (44) $250
13. (17) Trevor Sise #73-Knoxville, TN (44) $225
14. (20) Josh Collins #44-Powell, TN (44) $200
15. (23) Ruben Mayfield #00-Lenoir City, TN (43) $200
16. (19) Josh Henry #B00-Newport, TN (37) $200
17. (8) Matt Henderson #17-Loudon, TN (22) $200
18. (24) Greg Estes #31-Jonesville, VA (21) $200
19. (1) Jason Trammell #90j-Knoxville, TN (16) $200
20. (2) Cory Hedgecock #23-Loudon, TN (16) $200
21. (22) Steve Smith #3-Powell, TN (16) $200
22. (10) Jensen Ford #83-Piney Flats, TN (15) $200
23. (21) Heath Hindman #9-Signal Mountain, TN (15) $200
24. (15) Mark Martin #90-Baxter, TN (14) $200

Did Not Make Field: Chris Chandler #8, Bryan Shockley #17s, Johnny Ridings #31, Zeke Buchanan #3, Dakotah Knuckles #21k, Greg Martin #24, Kenny Collins #1

CRATE LATE MODEL (25 laps)

1. Forrest Trent #101
2. Brad Coffey #88
3. Jason Welshan #29
4. Tim Byrd #24
5. Jerry Broyles #72
6. Keith Chatman #97
7. Tim Maupin #T2
8. Bryan Courtney #71
9. Bryson Dennis #15
10. Gary Crittenden #18
11. Warren McMahan #33
12. Josh Driskill #00
13. Creed Hance #24
14. Hugh Scalf #56
15. Cody Brake #586
16. Stephen Martin #46
17. Mike Kelley #X
18. Greg Burchett #5

MODIFIED HOBBY (25 laps)

1. Jamie Whitt #1
2. Chris Rickett #36
3. Brad Davis #88
4. Dave Smith #10
5. Bret Banks #3
6. Chad Manning #21
7. Charlie Bates #27
8. Willie Bussler #31B
9. Jon Cook #0z
10. Robbie Buchanan #p21
11. Jason Long #15
12. Dale Reed #52
13. Gary Blanken #5
14. Mike Mays #30
15. Landon Steele #18
16. Parker Estes #31
17. Travis Light #18

Did Not Start: Chuck Kilian #96, Kaleb Trent #3, David Bullington #20, Terry Dean #4

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Volunteer Speedway Steel Head Late Model Championship promoter Vic Hill: 423-312-4206.

Volunteer Speedway (Recording Only): 423-235-5020
Track Office – Weekdays Only 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.: 423-378-5942
Phyllis Loven (Track Owner): 423-676-9081

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