The Late Model racing season is coming to a head this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. The ValleyStar Credit Union 300 will draw drivers and teams from around the region to compete in what is billed as the largest late model race to run. The “Virginia Triple Crown” will take the points from the Thunder Road Harley-Davidson 200 at South Boston and the Hampton Heat 200 at Langley Speedway and push that into the results at Martinsville.

The race returns after the Covid hiatus of 2020 as tracks on the regular season were down across the region. Returning 2019 winner Josh Berry is expected to race carrying a bit of a streak into the weekend. He also won the NASCAR Xfinity race at Martinsville earlier this year.

Peyton Sellers, recently named National Late Model Champion in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series, will also be chasing his first win in the “300”. He has run it many times and has been a repeat “Triple Crown” winner but has not been able to take the checkers on the final lap.

Timothy Peters is another name which is no stranger in winner’s circles. His connection to Martinsville and Southside Virginia racing has put him in the spotlight with NASCAR national series races and is another local favorite that could repeat a win at the VSCU 300.

Bobby McCarty and Ty Gibbs will also be drivers to watch. McCarty has the Thunder Road win and Ty Gibbs is expected to show with experience in ARCA and Xfinity.

Motor Mile Speedway just ran their Champions weekend and drivers Kres VanDyke and Ryan Wilson should be on hand to showcase their skills under the big lights. Other tracks from all around the region should also be represented by fan favorites taking their shot at Martinsille.

Previously, there have been full days of practice at Martinsville a week or so before race weekend. This year the format has been compacted into Friday and Saturday. Friday , the 24th, there will be a 4 hour open practice session before qualifying at 8:00pm Friday night. The top two qualifiers will make the 200 lap main event on Saturday night. The rest will race it out in four 25 lap heat races to make the main. The heat races begin at 3:00pm Saturday with gates open at 12:30pm and track walks / autograph session on track until 2:30pm.

The NASCAR Playoffs are set for Martinsville with Camping World, Xfinity and NASCAR Cup all racing October 30-31st. However, all eyes are on the Late Models under the lights coming up this weekend (September 24-25) for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300.

Track Champion Night at South Boston Speedway brought the season together with the winners on and off the track. The race fans themselves were honored as retiring General Manager Cathy Rice gave them the credit for the success of the track as she thanked them for making her job easier. Rice had announced early on that she would be leaving as GM at the end of the 2021 season. The pre-race events of Danville Toyota Championship Night was the perfect opportunity to honor Cathy Rice with presentations and well deserved awards. However, Cathy made it clear as she thanked everyone for the honors that it was the fans that made South Boston Speedway special.

And, not to worry, she will still be around the track as the new folks take SoBo racing forward. Chase and Carly Brashears will be taking the track into 2022 and beyond. With Mattco Inc., known for Pocono Raceway, in the financial seat and the racing history and experience the Brashears bring to the facility, South Boston is well set for the future as Cathy carries on in a friendly consultant capacity.

For racing, the crowd from the grandstands to the backstretch had a full night of action. The regular hosted series crowned their season champions for 2021 with an opening show featuring the vintage Southern Ground Pounders. The opener was cut short for time after cautions and some blown engines. At the front at the call was Danny Bond and local favorite Stacy Puryear. Bond took the Modified and Puryear took the Sportsman.

Stacy Puryear (#63), Christopher Werner (#19), Danny Bond (#007) Southern Ground Pounders at South Boston

Josh Dawson won the 15 lap Budweiser Hornets race which also put him in place to take the Division Title for South Boston. Dawson had 8 wins on 10 starts at South Boston with this win coming from the back of the field.

Josh Dawson – South Boston Budweiser Hornets 2021 Champion

Daniel Moss came away from Saturday night as the Limited Sportsman Division Champion. The points were tight coming in and Moss had to drive hard to keep a margin for the championship as his car faded and he finished in 7th place. His points competitors, Jason Myers and Drew Dawson, finished third and fourth but Moss kept the season Champion lead by 2 points over Myers. Eric Winslow, the race winner, took the lead 1/3 of the way in and held that lead to the checkers. This was Winslow’s third victory of the season at South Boston Speedway.

Eric Winslow (left) Limited Sportsman race winner | Daniel Moss (LS 2021 SoBo Champion) with Cathy Rice and Chase Brashears

Nathan Crews took the lead from teammate Daniel Shelton with three laps to go in the Budweiser Pure Stock race. Shelton’s car faded as Crews passed by to win the evening and the 2021 South Boston Speedway Budweiser Pure Stock Division championship. The family owned team has this and the previous Championship with Crews and a third with Shelton who took the title in 2018.

Nathan Crews (Budweiser Pure Stock 2021 Champion) with Cathy Rice and Chase Brashears

Peyton Sellers snagged a fourth straight win and his ninth victory of the season at South Boston. Sellers is chasing a second career NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series national championship with 21 wins this season. Four race wins in a row also ties together four straight Division Titles as the South Boston NAAPWS 2021 Champion. This also marks six titles leaving him one short of the record seven by David Blankenship.

Peyton Sellers – 2021 NAAPWS Late Model Champion

Sellers avoided a front stretch wreck on the first lap and chased down the lead. Sellers and Jacob Borst raced the lead a few times but it was Sellers who took the checkers after fighting through traffic again with 28 laps to go.
Borst hung on for second, with Chris Denny finishing third. Landon Pembelton finished fourth, helping his National rookie standing and John Goin rounded out the top five. Goin was racing in as a regular at Dominion Raceway where Sellers has also been making the rounds and collecting some wins.

Racing at South Boston Speedway is not over for 2021, even as track champions come away with their titles from Danville Toyota Championship Night. Later this month, SoBo hosts the Country Roads Truck Show with trucks, 4X4s, hot rods, rat rods and more. In October, the CARS Tour makes its way through America’s Hometown Track!

For South Boston, it is embracing the history of the racetrack. Cathy Rice has pulled the facility into this century and stamped its mark on short track racing with a reputation that is held nationwide. The real winners and champions are all of the fans, the drivers, the teams and the employees and volunteers that have taken this track to the level it is.

Cathy Rice, retiring GM of South Boston Speedway – Thanking fans and workers for all the success

Danville Toyota Championship Night Photo Gallery – September 4, 2021 at South Boston Speedway

The season points schedule ended where it began… At Daytona. Tensions ran high as some drivers were looking to validate their points with a win, some had to have a win to make a playoff run and others wanted the win in their corner to add weight to grabbing a seat in the coming season.

Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick would have liked that win as icing on their playoff points clinch. Late race wrecks put an end to Matt DiBenedetto’s chase for a win as his #21 and the #9 of Chase Elliott tangled with blocking and ran up into the wall which set off a bit of a tumble while Ryan Blaney grabbed the front and ran with it to the end. Blaney put a 3rd win in his regular season column and Tyler Reddick made it to the playoffs on points.

However… Consider one year ago. Throw 2020 NASCAR in a bucket and make predictions on what 2021 would bring. If someone had put the following on a list it would have read as parody…

  • Kyle Larson will come back in 2021 after the 2020 suspension for a virtual racing vocal mishap and be the 2021 regular season champion.
  • Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick will have zero wins in regular season racing.
  • Michael McDowell will make the championship playoffs by winning the Daytona 500.
  • Basketball star Michael Jordan will join with Denny Hamlin and field a race team.

All of it is true and happening and is a part of what makes racing so interesting.

For 2021, the playoff series begins. Ten races now remain to determine the NASCAR Cup Champion. The Xfinity series is still chasing points and the post season championship races will begin at Las Vegas. The Camping World Trucks are one race in to their post season with Sheldon Creed grabbing the first playoff win at Gateway ( Madison, Illinois ).

The road course at Indy brought the game of pinball to racing. The curbing installed for the infield turns took a beating from IndyCar to the NASCAR Xfinity race and, finally, tilted out during Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race. Turn 5 threw cars off their line, into the air and even ripped the splitter and lower body panels off. Many cars were sacrificed… Few could predict the result.

The final restart put Denny Hamlin in place to get his first season win. Chase Briscoe, racing Hamlin for the lead, went wide and into the grass. As a result, he cut the turn coming back on course briefly in front of Hamlin. As Briscoe tucked in and chased on the tail of the #11, the #14 went in tight and clipped Hamlin’s bumper which put the Toyota off the track. This put Hamlin off the run for the win which was a sour note as Briscoe had been penalized with a pass through penalty for the cut course. Briscoe, unaware, kept racing the #11 which resulted in the off and spin for Hamlin.

AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Hyperice Chevrolet, in Victory Lane at the Verizon 200 Indy Road Course

As a result of the two up front cars out of it… Third place AJ Allmendinger was in the position to take and keep the lead for the win. Allmendinger is racing “full time” in the Xfinity series (currently 2nd in points) so his win in the Cup race does not put him in the Cup playoffs. However, due to finishing order at Indy and the points pay out, Denny Hamlin, even with the spin out, is still locked in the playoffs. Hamlin hasn’t won yet this season but his points were enough.

Two races remain in the “regular” season (Michigan and Daytona) which gets to the month of September and the playoffs, with Darlington, Richmond, Bristol and Vegas.

Michigan and Daytona will be the final shots to “win in” the playoffs. Hamlin is in with no wins but would still want to have that credential. Kevin Harvick has also been having an off season but is hanging on the line with points. He needs the win to secure his spot. All series drivers would benefit from a win as some are even looking for rides in 2022.

Kyle Larson is currently on top with 5 wins and continues to be the one to catch leading also top 5, top 10 and laps in front.

There is a lot on the line for “points only” drivers and those chasing a seat so the final regular season races are going to be hot ones.

NASCAR points math ranks right up there with income tax math and black jack card counting. With that, we could dig around and find out how Kyle Larson with 4 wins is 13 season points behind Denny Hamlin with no wins. Larson and Hamlin are tied in Top 5 and Top 10 finishes and Larson actually has 7 more stage wins than Hamlin. Larson has 1 DNF, however, he is leading the “Playoff” rankings while Hamlin sits in the 4th slot.

With the Tokyo Summer Olympics taking the spotlight on NBC, NASCAR is on a break until August 8 weekend and Watkins Glen. It’s a great time to take stock and set the stage for the final 4 races of the regular season in August. The playoffs begin at Darlington in September with Richmond the weekend after.

The most recent winner was Aric Almirola at New Hampshire. Kurt Busch has a win from Atlanta the week before. Chase Elliott won at Road America and earlier at Circuit of the Americas. Kyle Busch has 2 wins from Pocono and Kansas. Alex Bowman grabbed the first of the double-header weekend at Pocono with 2 other checkers from Pocono and Richmond. Kyle Larson had a string of points win around his All Star victory. Nashville, Sonoma and Charlotte were practically back to back with a 4th win at Vegas. Martin Truex Jr was hot early in the season with wins from Darlington. Martinsville and Phoenix. Brad Keselowski came out of Talladega on top. Joey Logano won the dirty Bristol Race. Ryan Blaney snagged Atlanta. William Byron pulled his first win at Homestead. Christopher Bell also hit his first Cup win at the Daytona Road Course. Michael McDowell started the season with his first Cup win at the Daytona 500 opener. McDowell also had a fairly hot early season but seems to be hanging on with performance currently.

Denny Hamlin is hanging on near the top with now wins. Notable, also, is the struggling season of Kevin Harvick. It is an oddity to see the hard charger #4 not notching a win with the season looming late in the schedule. The past few years have seen Harvick sitting comfortable with post season assurance. This season he is just above the cut with 4 races to make it.

So… Here we are with swimming, fencing, cycling and all the other Olympic events carried over from Covid cancel in 2020 to barely Covid live crowds in 2021 in Tokyo. All the NBC channels have the variety of sport across the spectrum and the daily schedule.

Watkins Glen is set to roll out August 8. NASCAR returns to Virginia with the 2nd race of the playoffs on September 11. Virginia race fans have Richmond with Bristol (just over the border) the week after. Later, The race before the season finale at Phoenix is October 31st at Martinsville.

In the Olympic off time, find a local track with some hot laps on track and take advantage of the NASCAR off weeks and get reacquainted with some home track racing.

Dominion Raceway… Usually it’s just a bit out of our radius but circumstances put us in Northern Virginia with a little time to make an introduction. Short notice “Thank You” to the staff and crew at Dominion and Dinah Mullins for opening the gates to the activities.

This place is more than a race track. The full name is Dominion Raceway & Entertainment. The “race way” portion also doubles up with a 4/10 mile oval and a road course. The oval features NASCAR sanctioned racing with points in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series, Modified, Sportsman, UCars, Mod-4 and more. The oval and grandstands are surrounded by the road course drawing club racing, driver training, “drive your own” and more. It is a “car culture” destination right off of I-95 between Richmond and Washington, DC.

Racing isn’t all there is. The “entertainment” goes beyond the speed of racing action as there is staging and rigs for concerts and live performances both inside and out. There is food and drink in a dedicated serve and dine area with options for rentals and private parties.

Dominion is more than racing. Check their website for upcoming shows, racing and info on how you can make some hot laps with your car.

For the racing, the Saturday evening Community Bank Night at the Races of June 26 brought a good show. The NAAPWS Late Models were first off the checkers for race 1 of 2 60 lap runs with a 17 car field. There was a bit of a surprise to see Peyton Sellers with his Clarence’s Steak House / Danville Toyota #26 on the grid and on the pole. Sellers was a bit north of his usual place of business at South Boston. He put the field behind him for the win in race 1 and came up from mid-pack in race 2 later in the night to sweep the Late Models.
Race 1 Top 3: 1st-Peyton Sellers (26) 2nd-John Goin (90) 3rd-Mason Bailey (05)
Race 2 Top 3: 1st-Peyton Sellers (26) 2nd-John Goin (90) 3rd-Conner Jones (14J)

Dominion Stocks ran hard with changes in position and challenges for the lead. Like the late Models, the DomStocks were swept by one driver. The #33 with Dan Rogers at the wheel took home a double with wins in both events.
Race 1 Top 3: 1st-Dan Rogers (33) 2nd-Richard Powers (57) 3rd-Gary Burke (4)
Race 2 Top 3: 1st-Dan Rogers (33) 2nd-Richard Powers (57) 3rd-Carson Higgs (46)

The UCARS put on a chase for the lead with a 3rd row starter coming to the front for the win.
1st-Cameron Ruggles (40) 2nd-Blane Schumann (32) 3rd-Mike Chapman (07)

Modifieds took the green with Wayne Hartley (37) on the pole but as the race moved forward he fell back to finish 4th. The lead was challenged and taken early by the #8 of Mike Rudy but later taken for the win by the #20 with Chris Humblet at the wheel. The purple Humblet cars took the 1st and 3rd slots.
1st-Chris Humblet (20) 2nd-Mike Rudy (8) 3rd-Jimmy Humblet (11)

The Mini-Cups… OK… This was a new one, for us, anyway. This was a fun to watch, fast batch of itty-bitty go-kart type chassis with stock car bodies over the top. It was as if the drivers put on the car like a driver suit rather than got in it. Either way, it was a cool thing to see. Tyler Warner started on the pole and kept the #12 up front for the win.
1st-Tyler Warriner (12) 2nd-Travis Shepherd (44) 3rd-Fred Daniels (6)

The “Any Car” brought the variety of practically anything. CJ Terczak quickly took the front with a Mazda (51) that was body modified to look like, in our mind, a BMW Z3 Coupe. The V8 field was won by Cam Hensley (55).

The first visit to Dominion Raceway was full of good racing, a wide variety and many options in the future for driving, music and a variety of options for entertainment. If you are into speed and fun, check it out. You might want to avoid I-95 and just cruise on Highway 1. The scenery is better and the traffic actually moves.

The Photo Gallery from Community Bank Night at Dominion Raceway is below!

Memorial Day Weekend – It is a big traditional race weekend back on track from the 2020 Covid schedule shake up. NASCAR is back in familiar territory after going swimming at Circuit Of The Americas. Charlotte and the Coca-Cola 600 are on for Sunday, May 30. Earlier in the day, the Indy 500 takes the track for the tradition back in its place for the day before Memorial Day.

These are the big races that catch people with watch parties and cookouts or even bigger weekends with fans at the tracks in Charlotte or Indianapolis. However… It’s 2021 and we have DVRs and digital replay. If you really want to see the big ones on TV, but have something else to do at race time, hit record and your Monday is there for play back. As for something else to do…? Perhaps some local racing would be the fix.

Bottom line… There is some good racing at tracks across Virginia. (Tracks across the Country, for that matter) It’s not just that local tracks need the support or the local drivers need the fans in the seats, it’s about racing. It’s about the fact that racing at Charlotte or Indy is, at the most common denominator, just like the racing at your local track. The cars, the sounds, the drivers that make local stars and the teams and sponsors that support them are all a part of it.
The largest part is you… The fans that love racing in all of its forms and styles. With that, Memorial Day Weekend offers everything from local to really big national racing events. Fans will have no shortage of options. Go racing!