The Walter Ball Memorial event at the Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn. proved to be a bit of a coming out party for the Estes family as dad Greg scored his first major Late Model win and daughter Parker ran a close second to veteran Jamie Whitt in the Modified Hobby class. Meanwhile, Jason Welshan continued his winning ways on the third-mile track by driving to victory in the Crate Late Model division.
Track owners Joe and Phyllis Loven put up a $2,000 first prize for the Limited Late Model class and 14 drivers came forward in an attempt to secure a lucrative payday.
Jason Welshan began the evening in the featured class by setting fast time in qualifying with a lap of 12.815 seconds around the high-banked oval. Other top qualifiers were Ross White, Anthony White, Greg Estes and John Tweed.
No heat races were run so the entire field was set by time-trials.
At the start of the feature it looked as if Welshan would drive away to his third consecutive Limited Late Model class win in Bulls Gap. The Maryville driver pulled away from the pack early in the 40-lap feature but his run would turn sour just after the halfway point.
On lap 23, the familiar No. 29 car suddenly slowed to a stop in turn four with mechanical issues that would end Welshan’s night in this class. That turn of events elevated Ross White to the lead ahead of Estes, Tweed, Jason Cardwell, Jason Manley and Cory Hedgecock.
Hedgecock, a multiple-time Limited Late Model winner in 2014 on east Tennessee tracks, had run as high as 4th earlier in the race but was penalized two positions after track officials deemed that he had jumped a previous restart.
On the restart following Welshan’s misfortune, Manley crashed into the inside wall along the back straightaway after close racing with Cardwell. As the field rolled by the next time around under caution, Manley made and angry gesture toward Cardwell, who stopped at the scene the next time by and the two drivers exchanged words before track officials sent Cardwell away and Manley to the infield.
Once the green flag waved again, Estes immediately went into attack mode and began to apply pressure on White. Finally, Estes went to the front with 8 laps remaining and began to open up the distance between himself and the pack.
However, there would be one last challenge the eventual winner would have to survive. Hedgecock came roaring through the top-5, moving around Cardwell for 3rd on lap 32 and White for 2nd on lap 35. By that time, Estes led by half a straightaway, but Hedgecock closed the gap quickly. At the white flag, the distance between the top-2 was barely a car length. However, Estes was up the challenge and drove on to the win.
At the finish it was Greg Estes winning over Cory Hedgecock, Ross White, Jason Cardwell, Josh Collins, Ruben Mayfield and Weston Gantte.
As mentioned earlier, Jason Welshan won in the Crate Late Model class. He began the night by setting fast time in qualifying with a run of 13.338 seconds around the lightning quick facility. Warren McMahan, Tim Byrd and Tim Maupin followed.
Welshan took control of the feature immediately after the green flag waved and was never seriously challenged for the lead. However, there was an excellent battle staged just behind the leader for other top-5 positions.
At the finish, Welshan won out over McMahan, Byrd, Ricky Moore and Tim Maupin.
In the Modified Hobby division, Volunteer Speedway veteran Jamie Whitt took the lead at the onset from his pole starting position but he had to turn back a determined late race challenge from young Parker Estes to get the win. Charles Bates, Dale Reed and Mike Mays followed.