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Smith pockets $15,000 in winning Loven Ready Mix 100 at Volunteer
By Robert Walden
BULLS GAP, TN (Sept. 18) – Saturday night at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn., the large and vocal crowd witnessed one of the most exciting races on the high-banked, 4/10-mile track in quite some time. The "Southern Gentleman" Freddy Smith, of Knoxville, Tenn., passed pole sitter Billy Ogle Jr. on lap 46 for a lead he would never relinquish in capturing the United Dirt Track Racing Association (UDTRA) Hav-A-Tampa Loven Ready Mix 100 for a $15,000 payday.
The big racing weekend got underway Friday with 58 Super Late Models signing in for time-trials, with Billy "The Kid" Ogle Jr. of Knoxville, driving the Calhoun’s Restaurant/P & J Builder’s/Vanover Concrete Finishers/Wheels Used Cars/Custom Race Engines/Warrior/No. 201 Monte Carlo three-wheelin’ his way around "The Gap" to set fast-time at 13:222-seconds. Dale McDowell of Rossville, Ga., at 13:258, Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., at 13:332, Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., at 13:355, and Bill Frye of Greenbrier, Ark., at 13:416 rounded out the top-five qualifiers.
Six heat races were contested advancing the top-three finishers into the Loven Ready Mix 100 starting lineup: Heat (1) Billy Ogle Jr. #201, Rick Eckert #24, Brett Miller #12; Heat (2) Rick Aukland #99, Bob Pierce #32, Vic Hill #1; Heat (3) Freddy Smith #00, Earl Pearson Jr. #46, Dennis Erb Jr. #28; Heat (4) Steve Francis #15, Marshall Green #89, Skip Arp #31; Heat (5) Bill Frye #66, Scott Sexton #52, Wendell Wallace #6M; Heat (6) Rex Richey #87, Scott Bloomquist #0, Duayne Hommel #17.
Randle Chupp held off Eddie Carrier Jr. to win the first consolation, while McDowell and Ray Cook transferred from the second consolation, with Clint Smith and Ronnie Johnson receiving Hav-A-Tampa provisionals to complete the 24-car starting field.
At the drop of the green flag, Ogle Jr. launched into the lead racing into the first turn, with Smith, Frye, Eckert, and the outside pole-sitter Aukland the top-five after one lap. On lap 2, Frye worked around Smith to take over second, while the "Pigeon Forge Flyer" Sexton, after starting in 11th position, dropped Aukland back to fifth place. The first of eight cautions waved on lap 2 for a spin in turn two by the "Chattanooga Flash" Johnson.
Preparing for the restart, Ogle Jr. was trailed by Frye, Smith, Eckert and Sexton. Sexton dove to the bottom in turn three on lap 3 to pass Eckert for fourth, and on lap 6 brought the fans to their feet as he passed both Smith and Frye to advance to second. Francis, currently fourth in Hav-A-Tampa points, slowed on the track with a broken rear axle on lap 12 to bring out the caution.
Back under green the lead trio of Ogle Jr., Sexton and Smith had distanced themselves from Eckert and Frye. Sexton was working the bottom groove in trying to overtake Ogle Jr. for the lead, and after running 10 laps side-by-side he completed the pass for the point on lap 26.
However, the lead for Sexton was short lived, contact on the backstretch between Ogle Jr. and Sexton sent the Quality Heating & Air/English Mountain Spring Water/Precision Construction/J.T. Kerr Racing Equipment/Stinger/No. 52 Grand Prix slamming hard into the concrete wall on lap 28 to bring out the caution, dashing Sexton’s hopes for victory.
With only damage to the front nose of his mount, Ogle Jr. was back in the lead followed by Smith, Eckert, Bob Pierce and Frye. On lap 29, three-time and defending Hav-A-Tampa national champion Scott Bloomquist, driving the Miller Brothers Coal/Lane Automotive/UV Protectant/Warrior/No. 0 Mustang, worked around Green for sixth place, and three laps later passed Frye to take over fifth.
In a masterful charge up through the field from his 20th starting position, McDowell stormed around Frye on lap 37 to move into sixth place. Ogle Jr. had his hands full trying to hold off the crafty old veteran Smith, who after pulling alongside Billy "The Kid" on several occasions completed the pass for the lead on lap 46 as the duo raced into turn three.
Eckert maneuvered his Raye Vest/Rocket/No. 24 Grand Prix around Ogle Jr. for second place on lap 49. At halfway, Smith was showing the way up front, followed by Eckert, Ogle Jr., Pierce and Bloomquist. Completing the top-10 in the running order was McDowell, Pearson Jr., Green, Wallace and Johnson, all the way up from his 24th starting position.
With the handle gone on his car, Ogle Jr. continued to get drop-kicked backward, with Pierce moving into third on lap 54, and Bloomquist taking over fourth place from Ogle Jr. on lap 58. Up front, Smith was setting a blistering pace in roaring to a 10 car-length advantage over Eckert, Pierce and Bloomquist on lap 70. However, with twenty-two of the original 24 starters still running, Smith was having to work lapped traffic carefully.
The battle for positions sixth through tenth was heated between Ogle Jr., Wallace, Pearson Jr., Green and Johnson. On lap 73, the current Hav-A-Tampa points leader Wallace, driving the Monday Trucking/GRT/No. 6M Grand Prix, got around Ogle Jr. for sixth place. On lap 81, caution waved for a spin in turn four by Hommel.
Ready to go back green, Smith had the lapped cars of Arp and Cook between his Christenberry Trucking & Farms/Custom Race Engines/GRT/No. 00 Monte Carlo, and Eckert, Pierce, Bloomquist and McDowell. Only one lap could be completed before the caution waved once again for oil dumped on the track from Erb Jr.’s engine.
On lap 83, McDowell slammed to the inside of Bloomquist entering the first turn to move into fourth place, but on lap 94 Bloomquist worked back around McDowell to re-claim the position. But over the final distance, not even the lapped cars could keep Smith from recording the crowd-pleasing victory in the $15,000 to win Loven Ready Mix 100, his second big victory of the season at "The Gap."
Smith, in recording his first Hav-A-Tampa victory of the season was followed at the stripe by Eckert, Pierce, Bloomquist and McDowell. Rounding out the top-10 was Johnson, Wallace, Green, Pearson Jr. and Aukland.
"It’s good to finally get our first Hav-A-Tampa victory of the season," said the veteran Smith after climbing from his car in Victory Lane. "This track has always been a favorite of mine for many years. We’ve had a lot of good runs at this place. We won the season opening ‘Big Johnson Spring Thaw 100’ here back in March, and it really helped us in setting our car up for this weekend. I was riding along in third place behind Scott (Sexton) and Billy (Ogle Jr.) when they got together, and I hated to see that happen to Scott. He had a really strong car here tonight."
Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., currently leading the United Midwestern Promoters (UMP) Modified national point standings, led flag-to-flag and held off a hard-charging Chad Ogle, Paul Bales, Rick Standridge, and Kurt Owens to capture the 25-lap feature victory.
Bobby Mays of Jonesborough, Tenn., captured the biggest win of his career in capturing the $1,000 to win Sportsman feature victory. Mays’ 13th triumph of the season came over Eddie Morris, Jeff Mays, Bill Banks and Rick Stroud.
Tim Grindstaff of Jonesborough, led wire-to-wire in capturing the 30-lap Super Stock feature victory over Randall Keaton, Kip Pearson, Allen Perry and Randall Self.
HAV-A-TAMPA "LOVEN READY MIX 100" OFFICIAL FINISH:
Pos-Start-Car #-Driver-Hometown-Car-Laps-$ Won
UMP MODIFIED (25-laps)
NOTE: The final point races to determine track champions in all divisions will be held next Saturday, Sept. 25 at Volunteer Speedway. Kerry Jones of Bristol – Late Model, Tim Grindstaff of Jonesborough – Super Stock, Rodney Kiker of Greeneville – UMP Modified, Bobby Mays of Jonesborough – Sportsman, and Shawn Henry of Newport – Mini Stock, lead their respective division standings. 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