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Turpen Wins USCS Feature at I-75 Speedway

By Pete Walton
SWEETWATER, TN (April 28, 2017) – While the defending and two-time United Sprint Car Series presented by K&N Filters National Champion Morgan Turpen resides in the West Tennessee town of Cordova, she has found an East Tennessee home on the 3/8-mile clay oval at I-75 Raceway where she posted her third straight series win on Friday night.
 
Turpen charged from the sixth starting spot to take the lead on lap 18 from her teammate, 11-time USCS National Champion Terry Gray of Bartlett, TN, and then held off a late race charge from Derek Hagar of Marion, AR to take her third straight USCS win this season in the 30-lap A-Main race.
 
Hagar finished second and Gray hung on for the third spot.  Zach Daum of Pocahontas, IL rallied from the tenth starting spot to take the fourth spot, and Matt Covington of Glenpool, OK was fifth.  Jordan Mallett of Greenbrier, AR drove to a sixth-place finish, and seventh went to Danny Sams III of Englewood, FL.
 
Howard Moore of Memphis, TN took the eighth spot, and Bob Auld of Largo, FL started 16th and finished ninth to earn the Wilwood Disc Brakes Hard Charger of the Race Award.  Joe Larkin of Suwanee, GA rounded out the top ten.
 
In preliminary action, Gray won the six-lap Hoosier Tire Speed Dash, Covington won the eight-lap Engler Machine and Tool First Heat Race, and Mallett won the Brown and Miller Racing Solutions second eight-lap heat race.  It was in the second heat race that Turpen served notice to the rest of the field she had a fast race car, as in eight laps, she charged from the eighth and last starting spot to finish second.
 
Turpen scored the most passing points among the 17 entrants, but Covington drew a six in the K&N Filters Pole Draw to put Turpen on the outside of the third row to start the main event, and place Curt Terrell of Bartlett, TN on the K&N Filters Pole Position to start the 30-lap A-Main. 
 
It was an all Bartlett, TN front row, as Gray took the lead at the drop of the green flag followed by Terrell, Mallett, Hagar and Turpen.  The first of eight caution flags came out on lap two when Joey Schmidt of Ellisville, MS spun in turn four.  On the restart, Hagar got by Mallett to take over the third spot, but Schmidt spun in turn three to bring out caution number two on lap three.
 
When the field went back to green flag action, Covington dusted off the outside groove, and passed Turpen and Mallett to move up to the fourth spot on lap four.  Turpen, who is a school teacher during the week, made some good notes in her mind about that outside groove.  Brian Thomas of Pendergrass, GA spun in turn four on lap six to light up the yellow bulb for the third time.
 
The next green flag restart saw Turpen go to the outside and pass Mallett for the fifth spot on lap seven.  Meanwhile up front, Gray had opened up a half straightaway lead on Terrell, who was busy trying to hold off Hagar, who finally got around Terrell for the position on lap eight.  Gray was starting to get into heavy lapped traffic by lap ten, and Hagar was closing fast.
 
Auld took the scenic route off the outside of the fourth turn on lap 12.  He kept the fire lit on his machine, but was too slow getting back on the track, and the caution flag came out for the fourth time.  Gray led Hagar, Terrell, Covington and Turpen down for the restart.  Schmidt got ticketed for his third caution flag on lap 15 when spun, and this time, he was done for the night.
 
Turpen began the second half of the race as a young lady on a mission.  She definitely was an I-75 Raceway fan favorite, and she brought them to their feet when she stepped to the outside groove on the restart.  Turpen passed Mallet and Terrell to take over the third spot, and then drove around the outside of Hagar on lap 16 to take over second.
 
It only took Turpen two more laps to catch her teammate and mentor Gray, and she stayed on the high side of the track to take the lead from the 11-time USCS Champ coming off the second turn on lap 18.  Turpen then began to pull away and open up a half straightaway lead over Gray and Hagar, who were now battling each other for the second spot.
 
The field was slowed by caution for the fifth time on lap 20 when Lance Moss of Cherryville, NC spun to the infield.  Turpen led Gray, Hagar, Covington, Daum, Terrell, Mallett, Sams, Larkin, and Moore down for the restart.  Turpen was quick to pull out to a five car-length advantage, as Hagar went to the outside to pass Gray for second on lap 21.
 
Hagar could gain feet on Turpen, but with less than ten laps to go, he needed yards.  Hagar got the break he needed on lap 26 when Terrell brought out the caution flag with a spin in turn four.  That put Hagar on Turpen’s rear nerf bar for the restart, but Turpen was up to the challenge and pulled away.
 
The two laps to go signal gave way to the caution flag on lap 28 when Thomas, Jeff Willingham of Ripley, MS and Bob Agin of Fort Myers, FL tangled in turn three.  Now it was down to a green, white, checkered finish.  Turpen pulled away one more time, as Hagar had nothing to challenge the “Queen of the Wings” for the win.
 
In USCS RockAuto.com 600 Mini Sprint action, it was the Bobby Zaiontz Show, as the Columbus, MS driver got out the broom and swept the program for the four-bangers.  Zaiontz had a perfect night as he started the evening by winning the four-lap Hoosier Tire Speed Dash, then he won the eight-lap Engler Machine and Tool Heat Race.
 
Zaiontz then drew a zero to win the K&N Filters Pole Award.  He took the lead at the drop of the green flag and never looked back to win the 15-lap A-Main race.  Gregg Jones of Navarre, FL finished second and Conner Morrell celebrated his 13th Birthday with a third-place showing.  Brandon Taylor of Cumming, GA was fourth and Jim McNulty of Navarre, FL rounded out the top five.
 
The USCS Outlaw Thunder Tour presented by K&N Filters and the USCS RockAuto.com 600 Mini Sprints will head up the road for a second East Tennessee event on Saturday night at Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, TN.
             
For rules and updated schedule information about the United Sprint Car Series Outlaw Thunder Tour, please visit www.uscsracing.com or call the series office at 770-460-7223 or 770-865-6097. You can also like the United Sprint Car Series Facebook page at USCS Racing.
 
OFFICIAL RESULTS OF USCS OUTLAW THUNDER PRESENTED NY K&N FILTERS AT I-75 RACEWAY IN SWEETWATER, TN ON 4/28/17:
 
A-MAIN: 30 LAPS:
 
POS     STRT   CAR #  DRIVER                       HOMETOWN                 
1.         6          10m      Morgan Turpen             Cordova, TN
2.         3          9jr        Derek Hagar                 Marion, AR
3.         2          10        Terry Gray                    Bartlett, TN
4.         10        5d        Zach Daum                   Pocahontas, IL
5.         5          93        Matt Covington             Glenpool, OK
6.         4          14m      Jordon Mallett               Greenbrier, AR
7.         9          24d       Danny Sams III             Englewood, FL
8.         13        40        Howard Moore              Memphis, TN
9.         16        83        Bob Auld                       Largo, FL
10.       17        33        Joe Larkin                    Suwanee, GA
11.       15        67        Brian Thomas               Pendergrass, GA
12.       7          28        Jeff Willingham             Ripley, MS
13.       14        38        Tony Agin                     Fort Myers, FL
14.       1          27        Curt Terrell                   Bartlett, TN
15.       11        23        Lance Moss                  Cherryville, NC
16.       8          26        Marshall Skinner           Marion, AR
17.       12        1s        Joey Schmidt                Ellisville, MS
 
USCS Sprint Car Series Race Awards:
Hoosier Tire Speed Dash:  Gray
Engler Machine and Tool First Heat:  Covington
Brown and Miller Racing Solutions Second Heat: Mallett
K&N Filters Pole Award:  Terrell
JE Pistons Top Guns Award:  (4th Place):   Daum
PRO Shocks Champion Choice Award  (5th-Place): Covington
K&N Filters Podium (3rd place) Award:  Gray
Wilwood Disc Brakes Hard Charger Award:  Auld (started 16th and finished 9th)
Saldana Racing Products Super Sixth Award:  Mallett
Pyrotect Racing Cells Lucky Seven Award:   Sams
DHR Suspension Eighth Place Award:   Moore
DMI/Bulldog Rear Ends Top Ten Award:  Larkin
 
Hoosier Tire Speed Dash (6 Laps):  1. Gray; 2. Turpen; 3. Sams; 4. Willingham; 5. Auld; 6. Agin.

Engler Machine and Tool First Heat (8 Laps):  1. Covington; 2. Hagar; 3. Gray; 4. Sams; 5. Daum; 6. Willingham; 7. Auld; 8. Agin; 9. Larkin.

Brown and Miller Racing Solutions Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. Mallett; 2. Turpen; 3. Terrell; 4. Skinner; 5. Moss; 6. Schmidt; 7. Moore; 8. Thomas.
 
OFFICIAL USCS RockAuto.com 600 MINI SPRINT RESULTS:
 
15-LAP FEATURE RACE:
 
POS     STRT   CAR #  DRIVER                       HOMETOWN               
1.         1          1          Bobby Zaiontz               Columbus, MS
2.         2          730       Gregg Jones                 Navarre, FL
3.         5          28        Connor Morrell              Palmetto, FL
4.         3          07        Brandon Taylor             Cumming, GA
5.         4          52        Jim McNulty                 Navarre, FL
6.         7          17        Alex Lyles                     Arlington, TN
7.         6          3t         Tommy Thompson        Ten Mile, TN
 
USCS RockAuto.com 600 Mini Sprint Special Awards:
 
Hoosier Tire Speed Dash:  Zaiontz
Engler Machine and Tool Heat Race:  Zaiontz
K&N Filters Pole Award:  Zaiontz
K&N Filters Podium (3rd Place) Award:  Morrell
Brown and Miller Racing Solutions 4th-Place Award:  Taylor
Wilwood Disc Brakes Hard Charger Award:  Morrell (started 5th and finished 3rd)
Kaiser Aluminum Wheels Top Five Award:  McNulty
Saldana Racing Products Super Sixth Award:  Lyles
 
Hoosier Tire Speed Dash (4 Laps):  1. Zaiontz; 2. Morrell; 3. Jones; 4. McNulty.
 
Engler Machine and Tool Heat Race (8 Laps):  1. Zaiontz; 2. Jones; 3. Taylor; 4. Morrell; 5. McNulty; 6. Thompson; 7. Lyles.