WHEEL, Tenn. (Nov. 18) — When Tanner English realized that his busy schedule would allow him to compete in the 35th annual Gobbler at Duck River Raceway Park, the World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series regular immediately circled it on his calendar. And for good reason. Throughout his career, the 30-year-old Benton, Ky., native has typically fared well at the 1/4-mile Tennessee bullring.
Saturday was no exception.
Reclaiming the lead from Ft. Payne, Ala.’s Sam Seawright on lap 29, English led the rest of the 50-lapper to earn a $10,000 payday with the Hunt the Front Super Dirt Series, which sanctioned the race as a non-points event. It was English’s first career Gobbler victory and first-ever with the first-year Hunt the Front Series.
In a race slowed by just two cautions, English finished 4.467 seconds ahead of polesitter Spencer Hughes of Meridian, Miss., who rallied late to grab the runner-up spot. Jadon Frame of Winchester, Tenn., finished third, while Winchester’s Christian Hanger improved eight positions to finish fourth. Seawright slipped to fifth place on the final lap after leading laps 13-28.
Starting on the outside front row, English led the first 12 laps before the fourth-starting Seawright began to challenge for the lead. Seawright grabbed the lead with a slider in turn two, sparking a three-lap, lead-swapping, slider-firing battle for the point. Neither driver gave and inch as they raced in tight quarters. English admitted that a slight scrape with Seawright forced him to get up on the wheel.
“You know (Seawright) did a good job,” English said “(It was a) racing deal, he kind of got into my fender there a little bit. Little did he know that's the worst thing you do to me is piss me off a little bit. But it's all good. You know I need something to get me a little hyped up. I'm kind of calm and collected.”
Seawright’s biggest advantage was 0.844 of a second on lap 17. As he began to catch traffic, English reeled him back in. After another short side-by-side battle, English went back to the lead, headed to the bottom of the track and began to pull away.
It was English’s fourth night on his brand new Viper Motorsports BMF Race Car and first victory with the East Tennessee chassis builder.
“I can't say enough about this car, this BMF car. It's a bad mother,” said English in victory lane. “(It) drives like a Cadillac. Chad and Cory (Hedgecock), they got a good thing going over there and I can't say enough about them and appreciate them a ton. Hope they got their phone’s charged up. I think they probably sold some cars here. Hopefully we can help them out. That's what I want to do is get behind somebody that wants to help me. I like that and I appreciate them a ton.”
English was quick to thank his sponsors also. With just four wins on the year, he said he was a bit out of practice.
“Got to thank Matt Logan, ML Shocks, just everybody on the car, M&M Painting and Construction, H&A Development, Chase Motorsports, Lents Towing, Seay Motors, Davis Diesel, Capital Waste, Base Fuels, Supreme Enterprises, Viper Risk Management, Wiles Drive Shafts, Swift Springs, everybody on the car, Bachman Trucking, Midwest Sheet Metal.
“I haven't gotten to do this a lot (this season), so I'm trying to get everybody in. I got to thank everybody. Creekside Auto Sales, just everybody on the car. Andy Durham Motor ran great. Heck it's good to be back here in the winner’s circle. I just can't wait to go to the next one.”
For English, it was a successful return to a track he considers one of his favorites.
“I’ve been wanting to get back here forever. I think I ain't been back here since 2020, so right before COVID,” said English. “It's changed a bunch, but it still races like Duck River. You know it'll get faster on the top and then it'll slow down and go around the bottom. So I love this place and have alway ran good here.
“Just feel like there's four different racetracks you can run here, you know. So anytime you can do that as a racer, you know, find different lines, that's big. I think it's a lot like Clarksville (Tenn.) Speedway really. And I've got a million laps around Clarksville. That's just my style I guess. I like to be able to roll around the bottom and drag race (to the other end).”
Seawright appeared to be headed for a runner-up finish, but a bobble on the final circuit allowed Hughes, Frame and Hanger to advance.
“Congratulations to all their guys. We all need a good run every once in a while,” said Hughes. “They've been running really good here lately. Second sucks, but it's still good. You know it’s a good comeback right here at the end of the year. A little confidence booster. Our car is good. We just got to … these deals are so hard nowadays. You got to get everything to line up and go your way. Sometimes a little luck or just one thing to change in the race and you trade spots with the other guy on the podium.”
Frame was pleasantly surprised to manage a podium finish.
“Can't complain with third right there,” Frame said. “We had probably a fifth-place car and we just got in heavy lap traffic and I got up top and just sent it. So, just happy to come away with third. I thought we was gonna run fifth.”