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Sexton storms to third Late Model victory at Volunteer
By Robert Walden
BULLS GAP, TN (June 26) – After waiting out a two and a half-hour rain delay Saturday night at Volunteer Speedway, the fans were treated to some of the most exciting racing action of the season on the tacky surfaced, high-banked 4/10-mile oval. Scott Sexton of Pigeon Forge, Tenn., thrilled the crowd with his charge from the rear of the field after suffering a flat right-front tire on lap 23 while leading the 50-lap Late Model feature, to record his third victory of the season.
Tommy Kerr of Rockford, set fast-time of 13:413-seconds in qualifying to capture the pole position, with Sexton’s lap of 13:545 good enough to claim the outside front row starting berth. Carlos Campbell of Jonesborough at 13:763, Dale Ball of Johnson City at 13:915, and Dave Burks of Abingdon, Va., at 14:100 rounded out the top-five in the starting lineup.
The first attempt to get the feature underway saw current Late Model point leader Kerry Jones slam into the outside frontstretch wall breaking a right front tie-rod. With the field lined back up for a double-file start, as the green flag waved Sexton launched his Quality Heating & Air/Precision Construction/English Mountain Spring Water/True Value Hardware/J.T. Kerr Race Equipment/Weld Racing Wheels/Wilwood/Bert Transmissions/Hoosier Tire South/No. 52 Stinger Grand Prix, into the lead over Kerr, Ball, Campbell and Brogie Broyles.
With Sexton setting a blazing pace early on, it appeared the race would be for positions two on back through the field. On lap 7, Burks passed Broyles to move into fifth place, while only two laps later, eighth running David Crabtree spun between turns three and four to bring out the caution.
The top-five on the restart were Sexton, Kerr, Ball, Campbell and Burks. Only one lap back under green, Campbell made a bold move coming off turn two to take third place away from Ball, while Ball now had a rear view mirror full of Burks. On lap 13, ninth running Gary Blanken jumped the cushion between turns one and two, slamming the outside wall to end his night.
Preparing to go back green Sexton had things under control, with the remainder of the top-five the same. On lap 15, Ball, who had been carrying his left-front tire the entire race, slowed coming off turn four with his driveshaft laying on the high-side of the track. Sexton, Kerr, Campbell, Burks, and H.E. Vineyard occupied the top-five positions.
One lap back under green racing conditions, Burks relegated Campbell back into fourth place, while Burks had his sights set on "The Rockford Rocket" Kerr in second. Sexton’s six car-lengths advantage began to shrink when his right-front tire began to go down. On lap 23, the race leader brushed the outside wall in between turns one and two with the tire completely flat to bring out the caution.
After quick attention from his crew to change the tire, Sexton tagged on at the rear of the field for the restart. Kerr was on the point, followed by Burks, Campbell, Vineyard and Casey Huffman. All eyes were on Sexton as the "Pigeon Forge Flyer" was on the move, storming his way back towards the front of the field. On lap 27, he passed Vineyard for fourth, and one lap later he maneuvered around Campbell to take over third. He passed Burks for second on lap 30, and now directly in front was leader Kerr.
On the 35th circuit, Sexton shot around Kerr between turns three and four to take a lead he would hold to the checkered flag. Sexton pocketed $1,500 for his third Late Model feature win of the season, followed by Kerr, Burks, Campbell and Vineyard. Rounding out the top-10 were Huffman, Lloyd Osborne, Greg Burchett, Eric Hux and Jerry Travis.
"Man, I love racing on a track surface like it was here tonight, it (track) was in excellent racing condition," said Sexton while celebrating after the race. "I’ve always said that this is one of the raciest tracks anywhere in the country, and tonight the fans saw some great racing action. With the added moisture on the track from the hard rain, we were running laps a lot quicker in the feature than from our qualifying times. I thought, ‘Oh, no, when the front tire went flat.’ The guys on the crew had given me a good race car to drive tonight, and I knew if I only bided my time I could still get back to the front. Tommy (Kerr) was running strong and he’s going to win one of these Late Model races before too much longer. We’ve really got our J.T. Kerr Stinger chassied race car working real well right now."
Randy Davidson of Morristown, Tenn., held off a hard-charging Tim Grindstaff, searching for his second consecutive Super Stock feature victory, to capture the checkered flag in the 30-lap Super Stock main. Finishing third through fifth were Kip Pearson, Randall Keaton and Danny Holt.
Chad Ogle of Sevierville, Tenn., passed race leader Wayne Rader on lap 16 and never looked back in winning the UMP (Open-Wheel) Modified feature for the second straight week. Rodney Clonce, Ray Wilmoth, and Rodney Kiker completed the top-five finishers.
Bobby Mays of Jonesborough, Tenn., currently the division point leader recorded his sixth Sportsman feature victory of the season over Glen Atkins, Rick Stroud, Jeff Ferguson and Chris Glass.
In a battle between father and son, father, Runah Henry held off Shawn, Larry James, Les Cox, and Lee Sauceman to win the 20-lap Stock 4-Cylinder feature.
LATE MODEL (50-laps)
DNS: John A. Utsman #26-Bluff City, TN
DNS: Jerry Broyles #72-Jonesborough, TN
DNS: Warren Strickler #66-Kingsport, TN
SUPER STOCK (30-laps)
NOTE: A full five-division racing program is scheduled next Saturday, July 3 at Volunteer Speedway, complete with an Independence Day (July 4) "Fireworks" show sponsored by Don Smith Ford of Greeneville, and the fireworks by Pyro Shows. Gates open at 4 p.m., with qualifying at 7 p.m., followed by racing at 8 o’clock.
Volunteer Speedway (423) 235-5020
Track Office (423) 288-5992
Robert Walden-Public Relations/Media Contact (423) 928-9644