BULLS GAP, Tenn. — Just call him “King” Logan Roberson because it’s a fact he’s ruled the Crate Nationals at Volunteer Speedway. For the second consecutive season the Waynesboro, Va., driver has taken the $3,000 winner’s check back home to the Commonwealth.
The Crate Nationals closed the curtains on the 45th season of racing Saturday afternoon at “The Gap,” with an impressive overall car count of 106 in five divisions.
The same scenario as last year’s Crate Nationals found Roberson and Cory Hedgecock starting alongside each other on the front row for the 51-lap main event. The talented chauffeurs raced side-by-side down the front straightaway into the first turn, before Roberson powered into the lead racing off (turn) two down the backstretch.
Behind Roberson and Hedgecock as the field completed the opening lap were Chase King, Gary Crittenden and Rusty Ballenger. Mack McCarter and Ford were early movers as they got around both Crittenden and Ballenger to respectively settle into the fourth and fifth spots in the running order.
The leader Roberson caught tail of the field on lap 10 to start lapping process, and just five circuits later the first of three cautions in the event waved when ninth quickest qualifier Adam Tolliver slowed on the track.
Only five laps back under green and the caution waved when Jason Trammell slowed high in turn two.
Off the ensuing restart Roberson once again led Hedgecock and King. But the green (flag) was only out for two laps before Ballenger suddenly slowed, and with nowhere to go as the field was jammed tightly together he was hit by Drew Kennedy and also getting involved was Adam Ahl. All three cars were done with significant damage.
Back under green Roberson was feeling pressure from the hard-charging Hedgecock, who pulled off a slider on lap 24 to briefly take the lead. But Roberson wasn’t going to just roll over without putting up a fight. The say rubbin’ is racin’ and there was a little contact on lap 26 between turns one and two, when Roberson loaded up to fire his own slider on Hedgecock to reclaim the lead.
With Roberson back out front leading Hedgecock, Ford got around King for third. From the fifth-running McCarter on back through the field action was two- and three-wide around the high banks involving Tim Maupin, Crittenden, Greg Martin, Riley Hickman, Jason Welshan, Ross White, Josh Henry and Tim Byrd.
With the second half of the race running clean-and-green, Roberson began to pull away from Hedgecock and Ford, stretching his lead to a full-straightaway with 10 laps to go. He threaded the needle shooting the gap on occasion while negotiating lapped traffic to perfection and never allowed Hedgcock and Ford to close in.
Roberson, driving the Wynbridge Inc./Dirt Defender/Blue Ridge Tree Scapes Service/Wells Jeep/Pancho’s Racing Products/Team Champion/Sunoco/NAPA Auto Parts/Integra Shocks/Swift Springs/Lowe’s Auto Parts/Keyser Mfg./QA1 Factory Support/All About Wraps/Rocket Chassis/No. 17 Chevrolet Camaro, rolled to the $3,000 Crate Nationals payday winning over Hedgecock, Ford, King and McCarter.
“This is awesome to be able win the Crate Nationals for the second straight year,” said Roberson. “There were 41 (race cars) signed in for this event and only 24 make the starting lineup. It’s just a good feeling to outrun such a quality field of competitors, and we’re talking many drivers from around East Tennessee that have a lot of laps around this place.
“It was great to win this race last year, but to come in here and repeat with another victory is something our team is really proud to have accomplished. I’ve got great support from my parents and great sponsors that help allow me the opportunity to travel around and race, I’m very appreciative for everything. I just can’t thank everybody enough who believes in me. It’s sure going to be an enjoyable ride back up Interstate 81 going home with this big trophy and check, because that’s what we had our sights set on doing coming into this race..”
Wayne Rader of Parrottsville and Shannon Emery battled for the lead at start of the Modified Street feature, before Rader quickly moved ahead. Behind Rader and Emery, Eric Hux, Gary Blanken, Lance Creasman, Michael Woods, David Clark, Robbie Buchanan and Robby Perkins had spirited battles going on for position. … Blanken got around both Hux and Emery into second place, but there would be no catching Rader out front as he recorded his second straight victory. Rader was chased to the checkers by Blanken, Emery, Woods and Hux.
Travis Fultz and 2018 Sportsman Late Model track champion Zach Sise battled for the lead on opening lap of the 20-lap feature, but the 18-year-old Sise’s car experienced mechanical issues on the second circuit and he dropped out of the race. While Brandon Miller and Jake Whitehead were racing hard for second place on lap five, the duo got together and wrecked in turn two, bringing out the caution flag and ending the race for both drivers with damaged equipment.
Back under green Fultz was in command out front, but behind him battles were ensuing for position involving Chris Coffey, Brad Seagle, Clyde Stanton, Zach Shannon, DJ Shannon, Kip Sawyer, Kyle Manis, Floyd Self, Gary Blanken, Warren McMahan and David Bullington. … But clearly Fultz was class of the field as he cruised to his second win of the season over Coffey, Seagle, Stanton and Zach Shannon.
Wade Rookard powered into lead on opening lap of the Open Wheel Modified feature over Wayne James and Shon Flanary. A strong run for James ended on lap 14 when he began dropping fluid on the track and slowly entered the pits. Riggs got around Flanary for the runner-up position on lap 16, but there would be no catching Rookard out front. … Rookard captured his second win of the season over Riggs, Flanary, Austin Atkins and Terry James.
Lee Merritt has been the dominant Classic racer in East Tennessee this season, as he captured both the Volunteer Speedway and sister track 411 Motor Speedway’s championships. Merritt grabbed the lead at start of the 20-lap feature and went the distance in recording his ninth victory at “The Gap.”
Logan Roberson, Cory Hedgecock, Jensen Ford, Chase King, Mack McCarter, Tim Maupin, Jason Welshan, Greg Martin, Riley Hickman, Ross White, Gary Crittenden, Tim Byrd, Josh Henry, Andy Ogle, Anthony White, Tyler Arrington, Ruben Mayfield, Jackie Hughes, Trevor Sise, Rusty Ballenger, Drew Kennedy, Adam Ahl, Jason Trammell, Adam Tolliver.