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Horton, Ballenger, Tharp, Blanken, Merritt visit victory lane at Volunteer Speedway

By Volunteer Speedway | 01 April 2018 | Featured News | | 0 Comments   

Horton, Ballenger, Tharp, Blanken, Merritt visit victory lane at Volunteer Speedway

By Robert Walden
Volunteer Speedway – Media/Public Relations

BULLS GAP, Tenn. (March 31, 2018) — After daytime high temperature reached the 70-degree mark Saturday in East Tennessee, once darkness arrived it turned off quite chilly. But with the blue moon (last that will occur until 2020) illuminating nighttime skies over Volunteer Speedway, a strong overall pit car-count of 90 entries provided intense Championship Points Racing action on the high banks to keep a very good Easter holiday weekend crowd on edge of their seats.

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.

With the race reaching the halfway distance, Horton was in command out front leading Lowe, Clifton, Crabtree and Tweed. Crabtree first worked his way around Clifton on lap 18, and then on lap 22 passed Lowe to move into second place and set his sights ahead on Horton.

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
2. David Crabtree #C5
3. Barrett Lowe #72
4. John Tweed #5
5. Layne Clifton #23
6. Ellery Leake #34
7. Gary Crittenden #18
8. Austin Neely #3
9. Mitchell Childress #2
10. Andy Standridge #156
11. Michael Smith #4
12. Kevin Jackson Jr. #20
13. Bobby Giffin #97
14. Joey Standridge #56

CRATE LATE MODEL (30 laps)

1. Rusty Ballenger #29
2. Jason Welshan #29W
3. Trevor Sise #73
4. Vic Hill #1CVR
5. Chris Chandler #8
6. Greg Martin #24M
7. Gary Crittenden #18
8. Danny Yoder #2
9. Eli Beets #109
10. Paul Ortman #18
11. Grant Corum #49
12. Chris Long #75
13. Dale Reed #52
14. Michael Jenkins #31
15. Tim Maupin #3
16. Brandon Tipton #01
17. Tim Byrd #24
18. Bobby Mays #25
19. Adam Tolliver #28

SPORTSMAN LATE MODEL (20 laps)

1. Matt Tharp #35
2. Zach Sise #9
3. Jed Emert #98
4. Heath Alvey #7
5. Brad Seagle #31
6. Rex Coffey #43
7. Bradley Lewelling #10B
8. Jake Whitehead #116
9. Adam Mitchell #50
10. Austin Atkins #14
11. Tyler Pearson #00
12. Joshua Sneed #79
13. Kenny Ford #61
14. Vic Chandler #88
15. Josh Chesney #X
16. Jaylon Shannon #22
17. Brandon Miller #89
18. Terry Poore #2

Did Not Start: Jonathan Sims #30, Mike Kelley #8, David Bullington #20, Nicholas Shelton #9, Adam Pressley #07

MODIFIED STREET (20 laps)

1. Gary Blanken #05
2. Wayne Rader #01
3. Dustin Ratliff #10
4. Tracy Wolfe #11
5. Rocky Ogle #9
6. McKenlee Hall #44
7. Landon Steele #18
8. Jason Rawlings #01R
9. Wendell Williams #71
10. Shannon Emery #M2
11. Isaiah Manis #8
12. Willie Busler #31B
13. David Clark #13

Did Not Start: Nick Presley #69

CLASSIC (20 laps)

1. Lee Merritt #14
2. Shaun Sise #59
3. Josh Chesney #XXX
4. Chris Worsham #3
5. Russell Hefti #0
6. Charles Bates #27
7. Jim Canning Jr. #31
8. Clyde Mincey #14M
9. Todd Beeler #23
10. Brandon Crawford #00
11. Shane Taylor #37
12. Scott Lacy #24
13. David Kerr #7
14. Nicholas King #66
15. Charles Gwin #18
16. Jason Hartsock #42
17. Tony Reed #9

Did Not Start: Michael Millsap #22, Tony Trent #501, Jacob Taylor #20

Volunteer Speedway (Recording Only): 423-235-5020  www.VolunteerSpeedway.com
Volunteer Speedway (General Manager): 865-257-7223
Joe Byrd (Tech Official): 865-776-1798

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