Chris Madden has started off the 2014 Dirt Late Model racing season in red hot fashion, and Saturday night’s Spring Nationals feature event at the Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn. only served to add fuel to his already hot fire.
The Gray Court, SC driver scored his fourth big payday of the young season when he collected the $10,000 first prize in the Ray Cook promoted event. The win, combined with his 2nd place effort on Friday night, places Madden in the early lead of the Spring Nationals standings. He also leads the NDRL standings.
The night began with Madden’s car builder, Scott Bloomquist, setting fast time in Group A qualifying as well as overall with a lap of 12.227 seconds around the third-mile banked oval. Madden led Group B time-trials with a time of 12.557 seconds.
No drivers were locked in through qualifying so everyone had to earn their way into the main event by competing in heat races.
Jimmy Owens won the first heat from the outside front row over Bloomquist, Donald McIntosh and David Payne.
Eric Wells took the checkered flag in the second heat race ahead of Billy Ogle, Jr., Jeff Wolfenbarger and Vic Hill.
Madden led the way in the third heat over Mike Marlar, Tommy Kerr and Chad Ogle.
And in the fourth and final heat, it was Mark Douglas beating out Stacy Boles, Casey Roberts and Mack McCarter.
Austin Smith and Mark Vineyard won the two B-main consolation races used to fill out the yet unclaimed spots on the starting grid.
A redraw among the heat race winners established the first four starters in the feature as Wells, Douglas, Owens and Madden.
At the start of the 60-lap feature, Wells immediately went to the front of the pack with Douglas, Madden, Owens and Bloomquist in pursuit. But by lap 5, Madden already had his sights set on the lead as he got around Douglas to take the 2nd spot. One lap later, Owens and Bloomquist also made the move around Douglas for position.
A pivotal moment in the race occurred on lap 9 when Owens banged off the slowing car of Dustin Linville, who was attempting to make his way into the pit area. The right side of the new Club 29 Late Model was significantly crumpled, but the local hero tried to continue. However, on the ensuing restart, Owens slowed dramatically and then retired from the event.
As the race went into its middle stages, Madden began to show his strength. After stalking Wells for several laps, the #44 Bloomquist Race Car finally moved around and took the top spot. Shortly afterwards, Bloomquist would also get around Wells and would set off in hot pursuit of Madden.
The top-2 cars put a comfortable amount of distance between themselves and the rest of the field as they continued to fight for the lead.
Bloomquist had what was perhaps his best chance to assume the lead after a lap 46 restart. The leader of Team Zero dove to the low side in turns 1 and 2 but Madden was able to hold him off by employing a higher line. Meanwhile, those racing just behind the front twosome seemingly settled into their positions and tried to maintain pace with the lead duo.
Traffic came into play as the laps wound down but Madden was able to keep Bloomquist behind him. At the finish it Chris Madden collecting the checkered flag ahead of Scott Bloomquist, Eric Wells, Billy Ogle, Jr., Mike Marlar, Donald McIntosh, Casey Roberts, Stacy Boles, Tommy Kerr and Chad Ogle.