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Sexton records sixth Volunteer Late Model victory; Ball captures track championship
By Robert Walden
BULLS GAP, TN (Sept. 25) – After the disappointing crash he suffered while leading last week’s Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series event at Volunteer Speedway, Scott Sexton of Pigeon Forge, Tenn., roared back to the front Saturday night at the "World’s Fastest Dirt Track" to record his sixth Late Model feature victory of the season. But, the big winner Saturday was Dale Ball of Johnson City, Tenn., who captured the 1999 Late Model track championship at "The Gap."
In qualifying for the 50-lap Late Model main, Sexton set fast-time at 13:409-seconds over the 23-car field to earn the pole position, with Tommy Kerr of Rockford, Tenn., second quickest at 13:457 to claim the outside front row starting berth. Rick Norris of Kingsport, Tenn., at 13:590, Mark Douglas of Knoxville, Tenn., at 13:599, and Jerry Broyles of Jonesborough, Tenn., at 13:722 rounding out the top-five in the starting lineup.
The first attempt to get the 50-lapper underway saw the caution flag immediately wave when Brogie Broyles and Casey Huffman got together and spun to the inside of the track between turns one and two. With the field lined back up for a double-file start, at the drop of the green, Sexton and the "Rockford Rocket" Kerr launched into the first turn side-by-side, and as the duo crossed the stripe to complete one lap they still remained door-to-door, followed by Douglas, Norris and Herman Goddard.
Racing off turn two down the backstretch on lap 2, Sexton, driving the Quality Heating & Air/English Mountain Spring Water/Precision Construction/J.T. Kerr Racing Equipment/Newport Auto Parts Place/Custom Race Engines/Hoosier/RCI/Wilwood/Bert Transmissions/Stinger Race Cars/No. 52 Grand Prix, pulled into a lead he would never relinquish.
"After the deal we had getting crashed last week, we really had to work hard getting the car ready for tonight," said Sexton after climbing from his car in Victory Lane. "I need to thank J.T. Kerr at Kerr Racing Equipment for letting us use their shop this week to put a new clip on the car. I can’t say enough about this Stinger race car, we unloaded fast in practice and the car worked really well all night.
"The car worked great on the bottom, but would get a little tight in the middle groove or up higher. But for all we’ve gone through this week just to get the car put back together to get to the track, we’re very happy. We’ve had a really good season. Tonight was our sixth win of the year here at Bulls Gap and 20th victory overall. I would like to thank God for everything in my life he’s blessed me with, for without Him, none of this would be possible."
The veteran Goddard, on lap 4 passed Norris to move into fourth place, but the man on the move was tenth starting Dave Burks. On lap 8, Burks rocketed around Norris to move into fifth place. Not content to ride there, on lap 13 he maneuvered around Goddard to move into fourth, while Vic "The Thrill" Hill was dropping Norris back to sixth in the running order.
The caution flag appeared on lap 14 when the lapped car of J.W. Musslewhite caused the eighth and ninth place cars of Gary Blanken and Huffman to get together and spin between turns three and four.
Back under green, the "Pigeon Forge Flyer" Sexton was setting a blistering pace, leading runner-up Kerr by a straightaway as the race reached halfway, followed by Burks, Goddard and Hill. Running sixth through tenth were Douglas, Norris, Ball, J. Broyles and John A. Utsman.
On the 29th circuit, Burks, on the high-side got around Kerr to take over second place. By lap 38, the high-flyin’ Sexton had lapped up to the fifth running Hill. The event’s final caution waved on lap 40 for the stalled car of Randy Sauceman in turn two.
With the field tightly bunched back up for a 10-lap "Shootout" to the finish, Sexton was shadowed by Burks, Kerr, Goddard and Hill. Burks stayed glued to the rear bumper of Sexton for a lap and a half, while on lap 42, Hill passed Goddard to move into fourth place.
But over the remaining distance, Sexton comfortably pulled away to claim the $1,500 payday, his sixth victory of the season. He was followed by Burks, Kerr, Hill and Goddard. Completing the top-10 finishers were Douglas, Norris, Huffman, Ball and Blanken.
Ball entered the final points race of the season trailing Kerry Jones of Bristol, Tenn., by 18 points, but with Jones hospitalized with kidney stones, Ball’s ninth place finish garnered the personable driver his first-ever Volunteer Speedway Late Model track championship. Ball’s championship campaign came aboard the "Peg Leg" Motorsports No. 25 Monte Carlo, sponsored by Twin D Auto Sales/PIP Printing/Rocky’s Pizza/Rodney Ramsey Construction/Roy’s Moving Service & Self Storage/McDonald’s/Jerry’s Automotive/L & L Steam Cleaning/Farnor Enterprises/Warrior Race Cars.
"Yeah, I really hated it when I arrived at the track this afternoon and found out Kerry (Jones) was in the hospital with kidney stones," said Ball. "By no means did I want to win this championship in that manner. I wanted to race Kerry on the track. But I can’t thank this racing team for all that they’ve put into this season. Sure, we’ve struggled at times, but we’ve also been consistent with our finishes throughout the entire season, and that’s what it takes when you’re running for points.
"I’m only the driver, and I need to thank Gerald and Wesley Laws for giving me the opportunity to driver their car this year, and also to all of the guys who helped work on the car at the shop and at the track all year long. This championship was a total team effort. My dad (Walter Ball) won the Late Model track championship here in 1977, and it really means a lot to me to also be able to now say, ‘I’m a Volunteer Speedway Late Model track champion, too.’ "
Randy Davidson of Morristown, Tenn., captured his division-leading 12th Super Stock feature victory, but Tim Grindstaff of Jonesborough won the war. Grindstaff’s third place finish allowed him to narrowly defeat Davidson for the Super Stock track championship. Davidson was followed by Randall Keaton, Grindstaff, Mike Mellons and Kip Pearson.
Outside invader Kurt Hofsess, of Leburn, Ky., claimed his first-ever UMP (Open-Wheel) Modified feature victory at "The Gap." Hofsess was trailed by Jeff Maupin, Rodney Kiker, Paul Bales and Wayne James.
Shannon Emery of Morristown, Tenn., captured the 25-lap Sportsman win over Lynn Sauceman, Danny James, Jason Smelcer and Jeff Mays.
Marty Phillips of Maryville, Tenn., held off Lee Sauceman, Roger Blakely, Runah Henry, and Brandon James to capture the 20-lap Mini Stock feature victory.
LATE MODEL (50-laps)
NOTE: A full five-division racing program is scheduled next Sat., Oct. 2 at Volunteer Speedway. 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