Maupin leads flag-to-flag for second Volunteer Super Late Model win

By Robert Walden

   BULLS GAP -- Jeff Maupin of Greeneville captured his first-ever "Don Smith Ford" Super Late Model feature win three weeks ago at Volunteer Speedway, and everyone knew it wouldn't be his last.
   Maupin started from the outside of row one Saturday night at "The Gap," and launched into the lead over pole-sitter Greg Burchett racing off turn two. With the track racing surface wet-and-tacky following a brief, hard rain following qualifying which delayed the night's racing action by an hour-and-forty minutes, Maupin wasted no time in pulling out to a comfortable lead over Burchett, Mark Douglas, Travis Greer and Michael Smith.
   The event's first caution waved on lap 7 when veteran racer Herman Goddard slowed between turns three and four. Back under green, Douglas sped past Burchett into the runner-up spot on lap 8 racing off the fourth turn. Just out of the top-five, ninth-starting Dale Ball began challenging Rick Norris for seventh.
   After running side-by-side for two laps, Ball grabbed the position on lap 11. With Smith and Michael Jackson running in fourth and fifth, Ball used a strong run on the bottom racing off turn four on lap 15 to pull alongside Jackson at the start/finish line.
   Still hugging the bottom, Ball drove by Smith and into fifth place as they raced off turn two. With Ball opening the door, Norris followed his tracks and also disposed of Smith and Jackson to move into the sixth spot. With Maupin holding an eight car-length advantage over Douglas, the final caution waved on lap 25 when Dennis Alverson looped his mount in turn two.
   Going back green Douglas was glued to Maupin's rear bumper primed for a 10-lap sprint to the checkers, with Burchett, Greer and Ball waiting in the wings. Ball drove deep into the third turn on lap 28 to get under Greer, and with Greer slipping up the banking as they raced off turn four, Ball moved into fourth place.
   Norris also seized the opportunity to gain a position, as he passed Greer racing into the first turn on lap 29 to grab the fifth spot away from Greer.
   But out front it was all Maupin, driving the Don Smith Ford/Williams II Racing/Hoosier by Pup/AFCO/Ultimate Graphics-Jensen Ford/John A. Utsman Race Engines/TNT Race Cars/No. 32w Ford Taurus, as he captured his second Super Late Model feature win.
   With his victory Maupin vaulted into first place in the track point standings after entering the night of racing tied for the lead with Norris. Douglas, Burchett, Ball and Norris rounded out the top-five at the checkers.
   Completing the top-10 finishers were Greer, Jackson, Steve Jones, Terry Costner and Steve Rogers, son of Rick and grandson of Buddy, who was making his racing debut.
   "We had a great race car tonight, but there towards the end and with the laps winding down, I started having a little trouble with the car tightening up on me between turns one and two," said a relieved Maupin after climbing from his winning ride in Volunteer Speedway's newly designed victory lane. "Mark's (Douglas) a great racer, with many wins and a couple of track championships to his credit, and I knew he was going to be all over me if I slipped and made a mistake. Thankfully we were able to hold him off and get our second win. This is great.
   "I'm in the best ride (equipment) I've ever had in my racing career, and I really want to thank Eddie and Chuck Williams for giving me the opportunity to drive their car. I can't wait each week to get back to the track and race, because I know we're a contender to win each and every week when we show up. I also want to thank Tony Ford (TNT Race Cars) for the great cars he builds.
   "Hopefully this strong TNT car is going to carry us to several more wins this season. With this team, everybody does their part to help make this (winning) happen. I also want to thank C.J. White, Justin Kidwell, Luke Boles and Jensen Ford for working on preparing the car."
    Powell's Corey "Stormin'" Norman strong-armed his way to victory in the 25-lap "Ramey Ford" Limited Late Model feature after losing his power steering on the opening lap. Norman and fellow front-row starter Rusty Goddard raced door-to-door into the first turn at the drop of the green, and racing off turn two down the backstretch Norman powered into a lead he would never relinquish.
   Holding down positions three through five behind Norman and Goddard back around at the stripe to complete lap 1 were Shane Roberts, making his return to racing after being away a few weeks, Marty Calloway and Clint Solomon. Solomon got underneath Calloway on lap 3 racing off turn two to move into fourth place, and with the door open both Tommy Newton and Bobby Mays slipped by, dropping Calloway back to seventh. Matters only worsened for Calloway on lap 8, when he slowed on the backstretch and pulled into the pits with mechanical problems.
   With Norman setting a blistering pace out front, putting 10 car-lengths between his Norman Sheet Metal Co./United Printers of Knoxville/Race-Scan Communications/Vic Hill Racing Engines/Fastlane Signs & Graphics/Warrior Race Cars/No. 42 Monte Carlo and Goddard early on, just behind the lead duo the battle for third was heating up. With Roberts slipping on lap 8 racing off the fourth turn onto the front straightaway, both Solomon and Newton took advantage to move into third and fourth.
   Solomon quickly closed to Goddard's rear bumper and they set their sights on Norman. As the leader Norman worked heavy lapped traffic over the final five circuits, they whittled Norman's lead down to two car-lengths.
   With Norman having to cautiously wrestle his mount around the high banks while negotiating the slower cars, both Goddard and Solomon were hoping he'd make a mistake. But Norman never made a bobble, and when the checkers waved he was celebrating his second-straight victory and fourth overall this season. Goddard and Solomon came home in second and third, with Newton and Roberts finishing in fourth and fifth, respectively.
   Rounding out the top-10 at the finish were Mays, Brian Smith, Jimmy Calloway, John Tweed and Randle Self.
   Chris Pendleton of Morristown grabbed the lead from Wayne James on lap 12 in the "Lawson Chevrolet" UMP (Open-Wheel) Modified feature, and once out front he rolled to his first victory of the season over a hard-charging Rodney Kiker. Finishing third through fifth, respectively, were James, Wayne Rader and Danny James.
   Newport's Scott Thornton captured his fifth "Allied Home Mortgage" Mini Stock feature win, but he battled up front with Shawn Henry until the white flag lap. Thornton led from the drop of the green until lap 17 when Henry moved into the lead racing into the first turn.
   But Henry's ride on the point would be short-lived, as he slowed on the final circuit with mechanical problems, thus allowing Thornton to sneak back by and into the lead. Chasing Thornton to the checkers were Scotty Frazier, Ernie Stubblefield, Runah Henry and Kenny Asbher.
   Troy Thompson of Bulls Gap started from the pole position in the 15-lap "Bachman Bernard" Hobby Stock feature, and when the checkered flag waved he was still riding out front and headed to victory lane following his second win of the season. Finishing behind Thompson were "Bad" Brad Kenyon, Mike Bright, Dale Reed and Mike Hodges.
   Gate City, Va.'s Linton Perry recorded his second "Renegade" Front Wheel Drive victory over Keith Helton, Karl Cagle, Steve Brady and Craig Larkey.
   Volunteer Speedway will not be racing on Saturday, May 29. However, a big Memorial Day (May 31) six-division racing program is scheduled. For more information, contact the track at (423) 235-5020.