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Kerr rockets to first career Late Model victory at Volunteer
By Robert Walden
BULLS GAP, TN (July 3) – Saturday night at Volunteer Speedway was a time for celebration, as Tommy Kerr of Rockford, Tenn., joined his grandfather (J.T. Kerr, who will be enshrined in the Track Champions Hall of Fame July 10) as a Late Model feature race winner for the first time in his young career at the "World’s Fastest Dirt Track."
Carlos Campbell of Jonesborough, paced the 23-car Late Model field in qualifying with a fast-time of 13:581-seconds to capture the pole position for the 50 lap feature, with the outside front row starting berth going to Roger Best of Maryville, after touring the high-banked, 4/10-mile track at 13:647. Rounding out the top-five in the lineup were H.E. Vineyard of Powell, at 13:650, Kerr, at 13:693, and Vic Hill of Knoxville, at 13:754.
At the drop of the green flag, Campbell outdragged Best into turn one to take the lead over Best, Vineyard, Kerr and Hill. Campbell’s hopes of victory were spoiled on lap 2, as he slowed on the track with a broken driveshaft to bring out the caution. With Campbell sidelined, veteran Herman Goddard moved into fifth place.
Only one lap back under green the caution appeared briefly again for a spin in turn four involving Sandy Goddard. Kerr began making his move toward the front on lap 4, passing Vineyard to move into second place. Goddard (Who will also be inducted into the Track Champions Hall of Fame) worked around Hill on lap 7 to take over fourth. On lap 10, ninth running Terry Wolfenbarger slowed with engine problems on the track to bring out the yellow.
The top-five on the restart were Best, Kerr, Vineyard, Goddard and Hill. Goddard maneuvered his mount around Vineyard (The only 4-time track champion in the history of "The Gap") for third on lap 12, with his sights set on Kerr. On lap 15, Dave Burks passed Hill to move into fifth place, while up front, Kerr dropped to the bottom of the track and showed his front nose to Best.
Kerry Jones was on the move from seventh place on lap 16, passing both Hill and Burks to move into fifth. Burks’ night ended on lap 20 as he coasted into the pits with mechanical woes. At halfway in the 50-lapper, Best had Kerr glued to his rear bumper, with Goddard, Vineyard, and Jones running third through fifth. Rounding out the top-10 were Dale Ball, Gary Blanken, Jerry Broyles, Casey Huffman and Hill.
On lap 27, Ball pulled off a pass on Jones to move into fifth place, but up front "The Rockford Rocket" Kerr, dove to the bottom of Best and stormed into a lead he would hold until the finish. Huffman, who entered the night leading the Late Model point standings, slowed on the track with engine problems on lap 28 to bring out the caution.
Kerr was in command on the point as the field prepared for the restart, followed by Best, Goddard, Vineyard and Ball. Kerr quickly began to flex his muscle, pulling out to a comfortable margin over Best and Goddard. Ball had his hands full with Blanken, losing fifth to him on lap 32.
Over the remaining distance, Kerr, driving the J.T. Kerr Race Equipment/Thomas Hill Auto Center/Ken Young Paint & Body/LL Racetech/Stinger/No. 4T Grand Prix, cruised to a half-straightaway margin of victory over Best, Goddard, Vineyard and Blanken. Completing the top-10 were Ball, Lloyd Osborne, Hill, Dennis Alverson and Jerry Broyles.
"Man, I’ve been coming up here to Volunteer Speedway ever since I was 8 years old, and I’ve seen my grandfather (J.T. Kerr), H.E. Vineyard, Herman Goddard, Scott Sexton, Vic Hill, and many others win Late Model races here, and now I can finally say that I’ve won one too," said a very happy Kerr after climbing from his race car. "We’ve been oh, so close to winning one of these races the last few weeks, but minor things knocked us from contention. Over the last 10 laps I just kept thinking, ‘What’s going to go wrong now?’ But we had a great car tonight, and early on I was just riding behind Roger (Best) waiting for my tires to come in. The longer we ran the better the car felt. Yeah, I’m happy to win the first race of my career here at "The Gap," but I’m really happy for my grandfather, he’s the man who makes this all possible. Now that we’ve got this first win out of the way, hopefully we’ve got a lot more to come the rest of the season."
Kip Pearson of Rogersville, held off Randall Keaton, Gregg Carpenter, Ken Hall, and Danny James to record the Super Stock feature victory.
Jimmy Owens of Newport, led flag-to-flag in rolling to the 25-lap UMP (Open-Wheel) Modified feature race victory over his older brother, Kurt. Finishing third through fifth were Rodney Kiker, Skimp Henry and Mike Hutson.
Bobby Mays of Jonesborough, recorded his seventh Sportsman feature win of the season over Chris Glass, Glen Atkins, Tim Trent and Rick Stroud.
Shawn Henry held off Roger Blakely, Runah Henry, Les Cox, and Jeff Kaylor to capture the Stock 4-Cylinder feature victory.
LATE MODEL (50-laps)
DNS: David Crabtree #5-Maryville, TN
SUPER STOCK (30-laps)
UMP MODIFIED (25-laps)
NOTE: Next Saturday, July 10, Volunteer Speedway will honor all former Late Model track champions on "Track Champions Hall of Fame Night at the Races." Their names will be placed on billboards surrounding the track. A full five-division racing program is scheduled with gates opening at 4 p.m., followed by qualifying at 7, and racing at 8 o’clock.
Volunteer Speedway (423) 235-5020
Track Office (423) 288-5992
Robert Walden-Public Relations/Media Contact (423) 928-9644