Roberts wins wild one, $5,300 at Volunteer
By Richard AllenTennesseeRacer.com
BULLS GAP, Tenn. (July 27) — Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., won Saturday at Volunteer Speedway in a Schaeffer Oil Southern Nationals Series event that saw a race with more plot changes than the best soap operas could produce.
Roberts came out on top for a $5,300 payday and his eighth career victory on a night with twists and turns — and some serious bumps — for the second-to-last event on the Ray Cook-promoted tour. | Video | Slideshow
Mark Douglas of Knoxville, Tenn., finished second followed by Chad Ogle of Sevierville, Tenn., Billy Ogle Jr. of Knoxville and Jeff Maupin of Greeneville, Tenn. Series points leader Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., who led laps 17-24 before he lost power on a restart, ended up seventh, his worst on the tour but virtually assuring him his third championship.
With rugged track conditions following afternoon rain and the late hour, officials scrapped consolation races and started the 21-car field by qualifying for the 53-lapper.
Madden bolted from his outside front row starting spot to grab the lead as the cars roared through turns one and two, but a bobble opened the door for the polesitting Roberts to take command. Roberts set a torrid pace, building a lead of more than a straightaway until a lap-12 caution was called when Dillan White came to a stop in turn four.
On the restart, Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., began to challenge Madden for the runner-up spot as Roberts again slipped away from his pursuers. But on lap 17 the rough track surface took its toll when Marlar hit a bump in turn two and had his car jerk sideways, nearly causing the car to roll over.
It appeared Marlar, second to Madden in series points, was done as a wrecker lifted the rear of his car off the track and began to tow it away. But the Bryson Motorsports crew sprang into action on the hoisted car and he returned to the track.
The lead changed hands on the restart when Roberts bobbled in turn four and Madden took over. Another yellow appeared on lap 24, again for Marlar, whose crew again hustled to keep him in the race.
On the restart, it was Madden who had problems when his No. 44 simply failed to go when the green flag waved. With his car stopped in turn two under yellow, it appeared Madden was finished. He even climbed out of his car and gave an earful to a series official.
But Madden, who entered the race with a 36-point margin on Marlar, was able to rejoin the race when his crew frantically went to work and sent him back to the oval just before the green flew again.
Regaining the lead, Roberts led 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.
Notes: Roberts drives a Capital Race Car sponsored by Starrette Trucking, Cushman Paint & Body and Schaeffer Oil. ... Roberts has eight career Southern Nationals victories, second on the all-time list to Chris Madden and his 20. ... Multitime track champ Vic Hill suffered a broken rear end in qualifying, but his crew hastily made repairs before the main event; he finished sixth. ... Jensen Ford won the night’s Fastrak-sanctioned Crate Late Model feature. ... The series concludes Saturday with another $5,300-to-win event at Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway.
Schaeffer Oil Southern Nationals @ Volunteer: (1) Casey Roberts, (2) Mark Douglas, (3) Chad Ogle, (4) Billy Ogle Jr., (5) Jeff Maupin, (6) Vic Hill, (7) Chris Madden, (8) Mike Marlar, (9) Kennie Compton Jr., (10) Travis Greer, (11) Greg Estes, (12) Dale McDowell, (13) Brett Miller, (14) Josh Henry, (15) Chris Combs, (16) Dillan White, (17) Mark Vineyard, (18) Dillon Wood, (19) Daniel Baggerly, (20) Forrest Trent. Scratched: Bryan Hendrix. Fast qualifier (among 21 cars): Roberts, 12.601 seconds.