MARYVILLE, Tenn. (March 12) — Edging ahead of race leader Randy Weaver of Crossville, Tenn., on lap 35 of 75, second-starting Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., led the remaining circuits to capture a $15,000 victory in Smoky Mountain Speedway’s Old Man’s Garage Spring Nationals-sanctioned Tennessee Tipoff.
Starting on the pole, Weaver charged to the lead at the drop of the green flag, approaching the tail of the field by the ninth lap. The pair battled side-by-side through lapped traffic, with Bloomquist nosing ahead at the line just shy of the halfway point.
“Everybody’s always working hard, and we’ve been working pretty hard ourselves,” Bloomquist said in victory lane. “We were pretty good. I was a little bit free early and we moved up and the car felt really good a little bit higher. We just got a good move in traffic. I had a little bit of disrespect, I think, out there on the racetrack, but that’s the way it goes.”
Saturday’s win marked Blomquist’s first career Spring Nationals victory and the third of his 2016 campaign. Never letting Weaver get too far out of his sight, the Hall of Famer was able to methodically reel in the Smoky Mountain standout.
“I felt like we could get away from him if we got out and got some clean air,” Bloomquist said. “When you get into traffic, they get your air a little messed up and it’s easy to get a little bit free. The car was really good by itself. I felt like we had the car to beat.”
Weaver held on to finish runner-up, with fourth-starting Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., improving one spot to run third. Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., finished fourth, with Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., rounding out the top five.
"Anytime you can race with Scott (Bloomquist) and them guys … it’s a testament to our race team,” Weaver said after the race. "We knew clean air was important. We got out there and then when you get in lapped traffic, you gotta try to maneuver. I just got in there and lost air and he got by me down there in one and two. And then the next time, he kind of got in the dirty air and I got beside him. We go down the back shoot and we’re wheel-to-wheel, and then all of a sudden, here he comes. I could barely see the Greg Johnson car, so he kind of got us pinched up there. But that’s just hard racing."
After facing tough luck throughout Georgia-Florida Speedweeks, Marlar clicked off his first podium finish of the season. He challenged the front runners in the early running before settling for a third-place finish.
“As long as we were racing there, it was good,” Marlar said. “We got to beating and banging down here and that just killed my whole race. But we had a really, really good car right there. We were just a little slow getting going, but after it came on, it was real good there toward the end. By that time, there wasn’t much track left.
Notes: The race was slowed by three cautions. ... The first yellow flag waved on lap 38. … Tommy Kerr slowed in turn four to draw a caution on lap 58. … A yellow flag flew on lap 59 when Robby Moses slowed on the frontstretch.
Top four transfer: Cory Hedgecock, Tommy Kerr, Greg Johnson, Bobby Giffin, Stacy Boles, Kyle Pierce, Mack McCarter
(10 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Cory Hedgecock, Tommy Kerr
Row 2: Mack McCarter, Greg Johnson
Row 3: David Payne, Bobby Giffin
Row 4: Stacy Boles, Kyle Pierce
Row 5: Mark Douglas, Steve Smith
Heat race results
(Top four transfer)
First heat: Randy Weaver, Darrell Lanigan, Shanon Buckingham, Vic Hill, Cory Hedgecock, David Payne, Stacy Boles.
Second heat: Joey Coulter, Dale McDowell, Robby Moses, Ryan King, Tommy Kerr, Bobby Giffin, Kyle Pierce.
Third heat: Scott Bloomquist, Jared Landers, Jimmy Owens, Jason Welshan, Mack McCarter. Disqualified: Chris Madden (crossed the line second but penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct)
Fourth heat: Mike Marlar, Donald McIntosh, Earl Pearson Jr., Don O'Neal, Greg Johnson.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Randy Weaver, Darrell Lanigan
Row 2: Shanon Buckingham, Vic Hill
Row 3: Stacy Boles, Cory Hedgecock
Row 4: David Payne
Row 1: Robby Moses, Joey Coulter
Row 2: Dale McDowell, Kyle Pierce
Row 3: Ryan King, Tommy Kerr
Row 4: Bobby Giffin
Row 1: Scott Bloomquist, Chris Madden
Row 2: Jared Landers, Jimmy Owens
Row 3: Mack McCarter, Jason Welshan
Row 4: Mark Douglas
Row 1: Mike Marlar, Donald McIntosh
Row 2: Earl Pearson Jr., Greg Johnson
Row 3: Don O’Neal, Steve Smith
Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., set the overall fast time for the third annual Tennessee Tipoff, tripping the clock with a time of 14.901. The Hall of Famer fell just short of the track record of 14.860. He'll start on the pole of the third heat race. Randy Weaver of Crossville, Tenn., was the fast qualifier in his respective time trial group and will start on the pole of the first heat race.
The Old Man’s Garage Spring Nationals Series will open its 2016 season with the third annual Tennessee Tipoff at Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, Tenn. The race is paying $15,000-to-win, the richest winner’s purse in track history.
Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., was the winner of last year’s event, but is not among this weekend's entrants. Other past recent winners on hand for the weekend are Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., and Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C.
Friday’s program will include time trials and heat races, with the 75-lap main event set for Saturday night.
Time trial results
Time trial results
Driver, (car no.), hometown, time
Randy Weaver (116), Crossville, Tenn., 15.309
Robby Moses (21M), Maryville, Tenn., 15.496
Tommy Kerr (4T), Maryville, Tenn., 15.591
Darrell Lanigan (15), Union, Ky., 15.610
Joey Coulter (2), Charlotte, N.C., 15.636
Shanon Buckingham (21B), Morristown, Tenn., 15.641
Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 15.664
Vic Hill (1H), Morristown, Tenn., 15.689
Kyle Pierce (281), Statesville, N.C., 15.698
Stacy Boles (11), Clinton, Tenn., 15.814
Ryan King (1G), Seymour, Tenn., 15.833
Cory Hedgecock (23H), Loudon, Tenn., 15.854
David Payne (8p), Murphy, N.C., 16.002
Bobby Giffin (97), Maryville, Tenn., 16.045
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 14.901
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 15.150
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 15.156
Donald McIntosh (7), Dawsonville, Ga., 15.208
Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., 15.288
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.341
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.385
Greg Johnson (88), Bedford, Ind., 15.633
Mack McCarter (51), Gatlinburg, Tenn., 15.779
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 15.805
Jason Welshan (29), Maryville, Tenn., 15.932
Mark Douglas (52), Knoxville, Tenn., no time
Steve Smith (3), Powell, Tenn., no time
Correction: Fixes spelling of Shanon Buckingham's first name; updates with Madden disqualification.