BULLS GAP, Tenn. — The Ray Cook-promoted Schaeffer Oil Southern Nationals Series made it annual mid-summer visit to Volunteer Speedway Tuesday night with Vic Hill banking $3,500 for a flag-to-flag victory.
Hill, whose Vic Hill Race Engines business is located just a couple of miles from the track in Mosheim, is a five-time late model champion at “The Gap.”
Four-time Southern Nationals Series touring champion Chris Madden laid down the fastest lap in FK Rod Ends qualifying at 12.120 seconds.
At the drop of the green flag, Hill and Davenport rocketed down the front straightaway into the first turn, with Hill pulling ahead of Davenport to grab the lead. Behind them Madden, Chad Ogle and Steve Casebolt rounded out the top five in the running order completing the opening lap.
The event’s first caution flag waved on lap seven when NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitor Joey Coulter slowed with a flat right-rear tire. After attention from his crew to change the tire, Coulter tagged on at rear of the field for the restart.
Two additional cautions waved quickly, first when Casebolt slowed with a flat tire on lap eight, and then on lap nine when Ogle and Jacobsen tangled between turns one and two with both spinning.
Back under green and on a hooked up track, the lead quartet of Hill, Davenport, Madden and Billy Ogle Jr. were setting sail around the high banks running lap times in the 12.20s.
With Hill pulling out to a six-car-length advantage over Davenport, Madden was pressuring Davenport for the second spot. Racing into the first turn on lap 18, Madden dove to the inside pulling off a slider and moving up in front of Davenport to take the position.
With the five-to-go signal being given from the flag stand, Hill was riding four car lengths ahead of Madden. But on the white flag lap racing off into the first corner, Hill attempted to get under Coulter. However, he failed to complete the pass and thus Madden moved to Hill’s rear bumper.
Racing down the backstretch into turn three, Madden drove in deep on the bottom to stick his nose up alongside Hill’s left rear quarter panel. But Hill would not be denied a trip to victory lane in holding Madden off by 0.343 seconds.
Finishing third through fifth, respectively, were Davenport, Ogle and a strong run for Josh Henry.
“It’s about time we finally sealed the deal and got the win,” said Hill. “The way our season has gone, I know it’s never over until the checkered flag waves. We’ve had a fast car and on four different occasions we’ve been leading races and looked like we were headed for a win. One race we had either a big dirt clod or a rock come up and put a hole in the radiator, and other times it’s just something unexpectedly breaking on the car. You’re disappointed, but all you can do is regroup and come back give it another try.
“We’ve gotten off to a pretty good start in the first two races with this ‘Southern Nationals Series’ tour, and hopefully we’ll keep clicking off good finishes. I’d really like to be able to win the championship, but you’re looking at (Chris) Madden who’s won four titles, Davenport’s won a championship and then you know Billy’s (Ogle) also going to be in contention. We’ll give it our best effort and see how we do.”
Chris Chandler won the pro late model feature and Randy Dykes topped the mini stock race.