- June 25 - Volunteer Speedway by Sam Holbrooks


Austin Dillon, Mike Gault, and Jeff Smith

Austin Dillon (3), Mike Gault (17) and Jeff Smith (18) race three-wide during the Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series "Tennessee vs. Carolina Brawl" Saturday night at Volunteer Speedway. (Randall Perry)

Carolina Clash: Series Invades Volunteer State; Dillon Prevails at Bulls Gap

By Robert Walden

BULLS GAP,  Tenn. - June 25.—Austin Dillon of Lewisville, N.C., grandson of legendary NASCAR team owner Richard Childress, currently sits fourth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series point standings and knows the joy of winning on the national racing scene as he has two truck victories to date in his career.

But, the 21-year-old Dillon is a dirt racer at heart, and Saturday night following the conclusion of the inaugural Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series "Tennessee vs. Carolina Brawl"”he sat parked in victory lane at Volunteer Speedway to the cheers of big crowd in attendance.

After earning the pole position for the $5,000-to-win event by touring the high banks at 12.413-seconds (116.140 mph), Dillon powered into the lead over Chris Ferguson, Mark Douglas, Ricky Weeks and Jeff Smith on the opening lap.

The event's first caution appeared on lap three when Travis Greer, Doug Sanders, Jay Sessoms and Chad Paxton tangled.


Vic Hill - Scott Autry - Volunteer Speedway Carolina Clash

Volunteer Speedway champion Vic Hill battles inside of Carolina Clash regular Scott Autry for second at Bulls Gap. (Randall Perry) 

Dillon was all alone out front for the Delaware double-file restart, with Ferguson and Douglas side-by-side behind him. Up on the wheel and digging hard, Ferguson got around Dillon for the lead on fourth circuit, only to slow on lap five with a flat tire to bring out the caution.


Back under green, Dillon had Smith and Douglas in tow, while back through the top 10 cars in running order, action was two- and three-wide around the 4/10-mile oval involving Weeks, Ross Bailes, Luke Roffers, Tim Allen, Johnny Pursley, Dennis Franklin and Vic Hill. With the leader working traffic at rear of the field on lap 16, Dillon tangled with a lapped car and Smith momentarily made pass for the lead. However, before a new green flag lap was scored the caution waved when Weeks slowed high in turn four with a flat tire, putting Dillon back on the point.


With Dillon leading Smith and Douglas, making a bonsai charge back up through the field was Ferguson, who moved into eighth place on lap 21. But just two circuits later, Ferguson slowed with a flat right rear tire. Third running Douglas also pulled into the pits, ending his night prematurely.


With a tacky, hooked-up track and intense racing among competitors for track position, sheet-metal was swapped and it became a scenario of survival. Second-running Smith dropped out on lap 30, and caution waved on lap 37 when Franklin slowed with a flat tire, which also saw Ferguson pull into the infield pits calling it a night.


Chris Ferguson at Volunteer Speedway

Chris Ferguson looks under leader Austin Dillon during the early laps of the Carolina Clash main event at Volunteer Speedway. (Randall Perry)


While Dillon was in command out front, just behind him Scott Autry, Hill, Allen and Pursley were battling for position. A strong run for Autry ended on lap 48, and then a tough break for Allen when he slowed with a flat tire on lap 53, thus setting up a seven-lap sprint to the checkers.


Hill, a five-time Volunteer Speedway Super Late Model champion, had closed to the rear bumper of Dillon prior to the event’s final caution and going back green he had visions of overtaking Dillon for the lead. But Dillon shot out ahead of Hill on the restart when Hill's car failed to come up to speed. Hill was passed for second place by Pursley, but while Dillon roared to the $5,000 victory, Hill got back around Pursley for the runner-up spot with just two laps remaining. Bailes and Gault rounded out the top-five.


It was a battle up front among former track champions in the Fastrak Racing Series-sanctioned Pro (Crate) Late Model feature. Jerry Broyles of Jonesborough (2009 champion) had finished second to Dale Ball (2008 and 2010 champion) on three occasions this season, but he made his intentions known with the waving of the green flag on the 25-lap event that he planned to improve his finishing position by one spot.


Austin Dillon after his first Carolina Clash win at the tour's first Volunteer Speedway appearance on the 24th. (Randall Perry)


Broyles grabbed the lead over Ball and Mike Smith to start the race. Just six circuits in the red flag waved when James Cole slammed hard into the outside concrete wall on the backstretch, with the incident also collecting Mack McCarter, Keith Helton, Hugh Scalf and Tyler Dixon.


Back under green Broyles, Ball and Mike Smith began to distance themselves from their closest challengers. With just under 10 laps remaining, Ball was riding on Broyles' rear bumper. As the lead duo approached a couple of lapped cars, Broyles maneuvered his way past them with ease while Ball momentarily got held up. That was all Broyles needed as he recorded the flag-to-flag run to his first feature win of the season, followed by Ball, Smith, Forrest Trent and Todd Brooks.



Austin Dillon hd Volunteer Speedway Carolina Clash
1) Austin Dillon, 2) Vic Hill, 3) Johnny Pursley, 4) Ross Bailes, 5) Mike Gault, 6) Luke Roffers, 7) Chad Paxton, 8) Dennis Franklin, 9) David Taylor, 10) Tim Allen, 11) Ricky Weeks, 12) Craig Shuffield, 13) Scott Autry, 14) Robbie Bailey, 15) Dustin Mitchell, 16) Chris Ferguson, 17) Jay Sessoms, 18) Jeff Smith, 19) Doug Sanders, 20) Mark Douglas, 21) Travis Greer, 22) Travis Yow, 23) Jeff Maupin.
Fast Time (25 entries): Dillon (12.413)

Randall Perry photo


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