There will be plenty of slide jobs and kicking up dust as Volunteer Speedway hosts the three-day Crate Late Model national championship event this weekend.
It starts with a practice night Thursday and culminates with a 100-lap, $15,000-to-win feature race Saturday night on the 4/10-mile dirt track. Top Crate Late Model drivers from around the country are scheduled to race as well as some of North America’s top Super Late Model racers including World of Outlaws Late Model Series runner-up Ricky Weiss, Chris Madden and Kyle Bronson.
Johnson City driver Jensen Ford is among the Crate Late Model stars. Ford was recently ranked as the No. 7 Crate driver in the nation by the “Dirt on Dirt” website. In preparation for the big racing weekend, he had motor work done on his No. 83 Chevrolet-powered late model.
With his car still in the shop during last Saturday’s “Coca-Cola Fall Brawl,” Ford drove the white No. 32 owned by Kingsport racer Tyler Smith. It was an arrangement which worked out for both drivers with Ford posting a top-five finish.
“I didn’t have a car and Tyler talked to me about maybe driving his car,” Ford said. “He had some issues and we tried to get it figured out. We worked our tails off and got a bunch of little things straightened out. The car was good and fast. I just couldn’t get comfortable in the car. I just needed a few things for driver comfort.”
Obviously, the car is built for Smith’s comfort. However, Smith had struggled to get extra speed out of the car and gladly turned the steering wheel to his good friend.
“Knowing the experience he’s got, I knew putting him in the car, he would feel some things that I wouldn’t,” Smith said. “Hopefully, we will be better from now on.”
While it should be better, both Ford and Smith face major challenges. Ford has three wins at Volunteer this season, including a flag-to-flag victory in an American Crate All-Star Series race. This field promises to be even more competitive with “Fall Brawl” winner Jason Welshan, Knoxville racer Zach Sise, a four-time winner at Volunteer this season, and other East Tennessee drivers trying to defend the home turf against the invaders.
Thursday features open practice from 6-10 p.m. with no charge for spectators. Friday’s schedule is highlighted by a 50-lap, $5,000-to-win American Crate All-Star feature. Besides the qualifying and heat races, there are features for the Classic and Street Stock classes. Grandstands open at 4 p.m.
Saturday features the 100-lap Crate Late Model main event, along with qualifying and heat races. There are also features for the Iron-Man Modified Series and Front Wheel Division classes. Grandstands open at 1 p.m.
HOT SUMMER NIGHTS
Cory Cooper of Pennington Gap, Virginia won the Pro championship for the recently completed Hot Summer Nights Supercross Series. Hans Neel from Piney Flats was the series runner-up.
Brandon Hughes of Roan Mountain won six races in 30+ and 35+ to sweep championships in both classes. Another Roan Mountain racer, Elisha Guinn won the 450D championship with Memphis Scott of Johnson City was runner-up.
Other local champions included: Logan McConnell of Kingsport (20+), Dawson Ball of Kingsport (250C) and Hunter Ford of Church Hill (CollegeBoy).
Caleb Faulk of Johnson City was runner-up in a pair of 85cc classes, while Alex Colley of Norton, Virginia, had one 85cc championship and one second-place finish. Haley Ball of Kingsport finished second in the Women’s division and Austin Milhorn of Limestone came up six points short in the 65cc, 10-11 division.
In the four-wheeler classes, Logan Boomershine from Piney Flats wound up second in ATV Amateur.