Ford Thunders On Volunteer Dirt

Tim Byrd (No. 24) and Jensen Ford (No. 83) battle side-by-side for the lead in the Crate Late Model feature. Ford would go on to capture his second win of the season. (Sarah Canning photo)
Tim Byrd (No. 24) and Jensen Ford (No. 83) battle side-by-side for the lead in the Crate Late Model feature. Ford would go on to capture his second win of the season. (Sarah Canning photo)

BULLS GAP, Tenn. — Fans were treated to an exciting Chase for the Championship six division points racing program Saturday at Volunteer Speedway, and the action was heated on the high banks.

Tim Byrd set fast-time in Crate Late Model qualifying at 13.359 seconds, with his former teammate Jensen Ford second quickest at 13.451.

The two Washington County residents Byrd and Ford led the 16-car field to green from the front row, and over the first four laps they put on a show as they battled side-by-side for the lead before Ford moved to the point. Directly behind them Logan Roberson was glued to Byrd’s back bumper, followed by Rusty Ballenger and divisional points leader Tim Maupin.

With Ford showing the way out front, Byrd on several occasions stuck the nose of his ride under Ford through the corners. But Ford was up-on-the-wheel maintaining his advantage. Midway through the 30-lap event, Ford had put around eight car lengths between himself, Byrd and Roberson.

Byrd had his hands full in trying to hold back the hard-charging “Thugg Nasty” Roberson. Behind them racing between Ballenger, Maupin, Heath Alvey and Gary Crittenden for position was good.

With the race running clean-and-green, a late race caution waved on lap 23 when John Tweed spun directly in front of the lead trio of Ford, Byrd and Roberson between turns one and two, forcing them into evasive action to avoid making contact.

Ford smashed the loud pedal on the single-file restart leaving Byrd and Roberson to fight it out for the runner-up spot. Maupin dropped a couple of positions to Alvey and Crittenden.

But out front the race belonged to Ford as he completed the flag-to-flag run to the checkered flag for his second win of the season over Byrd, Roberson, Ballenger and Alvey.

Noted race engine builder Travis Fultz doesn’t get the opportunity to race as much nowadays as he once did in the past, due to his position traveling on weekends as head technical inspection director for the American Crate All-Star Series. But there’s no doubt when he does get behind the wheel, he’s a definite front-running contender for the victory.

Fultz set fast-time at 13.653 seconds to earn the pole position for the Sportsman Late Model feature, narrowly edging out veteran racer Vic Chandler’s time of 13.668.

Fultz powered into the lead on the opening lap while Chandler was quickly overtaken for position by Rex Coffey and Chris Coffey. An early caution when David Bullington spun between turns one and two slowed the action.

Back under green and Fultz flexed his muscle in pulling out to almost a full-straightaway advantage over the Coffeys, Kip Sawyer and Chandler. Chandlerwas feeling pressure from Brad Dyer, with Logan Seal and Chris Raines following.

Fultz was making just his third start of the season, with one win and a fifth-place finish to his credit. The race he didn’t win, he was leading midway through the feature when cars wrecked directly in front of him and he had nowhere to go.

Fultz cruised to his second win over Rex Coffey, Chris Coffey, Sawyer and Dyer, who got around Chandler a few laps from the finish.

Shannon Emery jumped out to lead at start of the Modified Street feature and quickly put several car lengths between himself and closest challengers Chris Rickett and Wayne Rader. Rickett and Rader got together racing off the fourth turn on lap 7, with Rickett spinning to bring the caution out and pulling into the pits ending his race.

Back under green with Emery leading Rader and Kurt Owens, caution waved when Owens slowed to a stop high in turn four. Looking like he was on his way to victory, Emery slowed on lap 10 with mechanical issues and entered the pits. Rader, from Parrottsville, assumed the lead and went on to win over Kaleb Trent, Landon Steele, Lance Creasman and Austin Lefevers.

Tony Trent was fastest in Street Stock qualifying, but it was fellow front-row starter Austin Atkins of Morristown capturing his fifth feature win. He was chased to the checkered flag by Trent, Jamie Whitt, Tim Stevens and divisional points leader Jason Rollins.

Michael Millsap took the checkered flag over John Stevens and Shane Taylor in the Classic feature, but unfortunately for Millsap his car failed post-race technical inspection. Thus Stevens, from Wallins Creek, Ky., recorded his division-leading 11th victory over Taylor, Chris McKinney, Chad Manning and Chuck Kilian.

Making his first Mini Stock start at “The Gap,” Shane Bullock of Caryville grabbed the lead at start of the 20-lap feature and held off a hard-charging Chad Manning at the finish to get the win. Rounding out the top five were Daniel Moody, John Gulliver and Justin Meredith.