BULLS GAP, Tenn. — Volunteer Speedway hosted the Schaeffer Oil Southern Nationals Series on Friday night for the series’ next-to-last event for the 2012 two-week tour around the Southeast, which has included races in Virginia, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.
Casey Robertswas the class of the field as he captured his first victory at “The Gap” to pocket $5,300 for winning the Summer Sizzler 53.
Roberts proved to be the fastest in time-trials when he laid down a lap of 12.601 seconds around the high-banked clay oval.
At the start of the 53-lap feature race it appeared as though this event would serve as a continuation of the previous night’s action at Cleveland Speedway. Just as he had 24 hours earlier, Madden bolted from his outside front row starting spot to grab the lead as the cars roared through turns one and two. However, a bobble by Madden in turn four gave Roberts the opportunity to assume control, and that he did.
Once out front, Roberts set a torrid pace in the early laps, building a lead of over a straightaway until a lap-11 caution was called when Dillan White came to a stop in turn four.
On the ensuing restart, Marlar began to challenge Madden for the runner-up spot as Roberts again slipped away from his pursuers. But on lap 16, Marlar’s mount got sideways and bounced up on two wheels, almost rolling over between turns one and two which produced the event’s second caution period.
It looked as if Marlar, who was second to Madden in the series standings coming into the night, had seen his race come to a premature end as a wrecker lifted the rear of his car off the track and began to tow it away. However, Marlar’s crew sprang into action while the car was hoisted in the air and made repairs and he rejoined the race at the rear of the field.
After that restart, Roberts appeared as if he may have given the race away when he bobbled in turn four and lost the lead to Madden. Madden rode out front for the next eight circuits before caution waved on lap 24, when Marlar slowed to a stop and then headed into the pits for attention from his crew.
Ironically, after a caution for his closest competitor in the standings, Madden suffered a mechanical problem on the following restart. His car simply failed to go when the green flag waved. The yellow flag immediately came back out. With his car stopped in turn two, it looked as if Madden was finished for this race. He even got out of the car and began to give an earful to a Southern Nationals official who was in the area.
With Marlar still on track it looked as if Madden might surrender some of his 36-point lead which he had built up over the past two weeks. But just as had been the case with Marlar, Madden’s crew frantically went to work in the pits on the car and got their driver back on track just before the green flag waved.
Meanwhile, Roberts reassumed the lead after Madden’s troubles. From that point, he would lead the rest of the way but not without some tough going in traffic over the final five laps that allowed Chad Ogle and Mark Douglas to close to within striking distance.
At the finish, it was Roberts, driving the Starrette Trucking/Cushman Paint & Body/M&S Concrete Inc./GW Performance/VP Racing Fuels/CV Racing Products/Simpson/Hoosier by Pup/Capital Race Cars/No. 101 Chevrolet Camaro taking the $5,300 victory ahead of Douglas, who just nipped Chad Ogle at the finish line for the runner-up spot, then Billy Ogle Jr. and Maupin rounding out the top-five.
Completing the top-10 finishers were five-time Volunteer Speedway Super Late Model champion Hill, Madden, Marlar, Compton and Travis Greer.
Fast-qualifier Jensen Ford grabbed the lead at start of the 35-lap Fastrak Racing Series-sanctioned Pro Late Model feature over three-time defending track champion Dale Ball, Tim Byrd, Mike Smith and Ricky Moore.