Virginia gets a double shot of NASCAR Cup racing with Richmond this weekend following Martinsville last weekend. A bit of a switch up continues as Xfinity ran at Martinsville and the Camping World Trucks will run at Richmond. The TOYOTACARE 250 truck race is on Saturday and the Cup Toyota Owners 400 is on Sunday (April 17-18)

The weekly short tracks continue their races as the season heats up. South Boston is running their Southern Ground Pounders event with Vintage Sportsman and Open Wheel Mods. The SGP Tour hits Virginia tracks several times through 2021. Following South Boston they run at Motor Mile just a week later. Dominion and Langley are also on the schedule.

Wythe Raceway is also running Vintage Sportsman and Mods on the dirt track. Lonesome Pine is running at night this weekend. Langley has drifting. Natural Bridge is running practically every weekend. Franklin County is also back in action this weekend.

Virginia Motorsports Park has the VP ET Bracket Series heating up the straight line racing. Eastside up in Waynseboro also has their drag strip on tap.

There is a lot of action on track this weekend from NASCAR Cup laps to local hero straight line speed. Pick a track and support some racing. NASCAR at Richmond, with their recent infield improvements for fans, raised the bar for Virginia racing. The open garage walkway is a great way for fans to see the national drivers up close.

However, Richmond Raceway may not be an option for every race fan. The local tracks and drivers put on great shows and deserve some of that praise from the stands. If you can’t make Richmond… There are some really good tracks with exciting racing running close to home. Tickets are family friendly, the racing is fast and the tracks and drivers truly appreciate your support.

As the year opens up and vaccines are more available and restrictions continue to be relaxed perhaps now is the time to go racing!

Timing is everything. The Whelen Modified race at Martinsville is just days away as the SMART Modified Tour turned up the heat just down the road at South Boston Speedway. For race fans, the laps at South Boston wasn’t so much a preview as it was an event on its own standing. The SMART run at SoBo was joined by Late Model, Pure Stock and Hornets racing. The afternoon did not fall short on the show which the track is known for.

The Late Model race started the ticket for the Pocono Organics’ CBD Race Day and the action ran with a chase to lead by South Boston local Trey Crews. Crews took it away from Jacob Borst a third of the way in and pushed the lead to the win. It wasn’t for lack of trying but Borst just couldn’t manage to grab a pass back and crossed the checkers in the second slot. Peyton Sellers, a dual winner at SoBo at the opener in March, lost a tire and raced back to third.

Short as the race may be, the Budweiser Pure Stock 15 lap sprint continued the show with Nathan Crews leading the others start to finish. Crews had also won the opener at SoBo. Justin Dawson and Bruce Mayo came across two and three.

The SMART Tour Modifieds rolled out with some well known names in the seats. Well known Modified brother drivers Burt and Jason Myers were on tap. JTG Daugherty NASCAR Cup Driver Ryan Preece was racing with hist short track record. NASCAR Cup Champion (2000) Bobby Labonte was ready to go. We even caught a glimpse of FOX Broadcaster Mike Joy lingering about…

The current Cup driver, Ryan Preece, quickly took control of the field. Labonte had late race trouble and was out of it. Preece was there to take advantage of the restart with seven laps to go and kept Chuck Hossfeld in the mirrors for the win. It was a second win for Ryan Preece at SoBo (2015). Burt Myers ran third and brother Jason came across fifth. Dennis Holden split the Myers in fourth.

A mid-point wreck at the entrance to turn three held the race for quite a while. A multiple car incident had the #83 of Tim Brown nose first in the wall. Brown was removed from the car by Emergency Crews. At the time he was reported to be responsive and aware. Brown was taken to the hospital and the latest is that he is being treated and does not have serious or life-threatening injuries. His status for getting back on track is unknown and best thoughts are there for family, team and friends.

The closing event, as the SMART teams were loading up, ran with the Budweiser Hornets. Josh Dawson managed the pass of Jared Dawson with five to go for the win. Kevin Currin rolled through in third.

Next up is a NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model Stock Car Division double header in a six race event set for April 17th.

2020 was a mix of “Do” and “Don’t”. Do wear masks. Do social distance. Do wash your hands and do stay home. Don’t gather. Don’t have public events. Don’t have restaurants or clubs or bars or concerts… or races…

South Boston Speedway, with strong ties to NASCAR, did everything right. With the guidelines put in place for Virginia, SoBo settled in with their 2020 schedule essentially put in the garage. It was a decision to play it safe with the rules and stand down. The risk of having any cloud fall over the facility, and the possible ramifications and scrutiny if there was an event and anyone linked the track with a Covid incident, was just not worth it for the long run.

Fast forward to 2021. Vaccines are out. Restrictions on numbers of people are relaxed… a bit. Racing events are able to have limited attendance and indications lead to higher numbers as the year progresses. The folks at South Boston Speedway make the moves on a schedule and the “Season Opener” is on for mid March.

It’s one thing to get ready for racing once winter starts to warm. However, after a full year of down time it would be a bit more complex. Add to that the preparations for the rules still in place with additional signage, staff training and documented cleaning guidelines and you have a task to make things right.

They pulled it off like it was a regular mid-season track event. Fans came in with masks and little hassle. The staff was ready like it was routine. The track officials and safety crews were on mark and the schedule for the day progressed rather smoothly.

The racing was great. A full afternoon of Saturday track speed was spirited and lively. Short track racing as presented by SoBo has a long history of fast laps and crowd pleasing action. This first day of racing for 2021 was no different. Six races and four classes of cars on track brought something for everyone. Two Late Model races (75 laps each), two Limited Sportsman events (25 laps each), 15 laps of Budweiser Hornets and 25 laps Budweiser Pure Stocks filled the afternoon of a brisk March Saturday.

Peyton Sellers was the big winner of the day taking the checkers for both Late Model events. The second win from starting mid pack with an inverted line up from the first race. Sellers, a seasoned driver with winning results around the region, is a regular performer at South Boston. Daniel Moss was the strong winner of the first Limited Sportsman race running out front practically start to finish. The second Sportsman event was won by Eric Winslow who also dominated with his run. Nathan Crews, a Budweiser Pure Stock SoBo title winner, began his 2021 with a win in the series opener. Josh Dawson grabbed the win in the 15-lap Budweiser Hornets Division.

South Boston Speedway is set to host the next event on April 3rd. Late Models, Hornets and Pure Stocks return with the SMART Open Wheel Modifieds. Mark your calendars!

NASCAR and other national series are under way or setting things in motion to get on track. The small “weekender” tracks are doing the same.

South Boston Speedway has their 2021 season opener coming up on March 20. They’ve had some teams testing in preparation already. On the schedule for the SOBO opener are Late Models, Limited Sportsman, Budweiser Pure Stock and Budweiser Hornets. Gates are open at 12:30pm on Saturday, March 20, with qualifying at 1:00pm and the first green flag at 2:00pm.

*Important: Covid is still a thing. Be prepared for social distancing and face mask requirements. This is important to keep SOBO in line with the guidelines and to keep racing moving forward.

Other Virginia tracks are also making ready. Franklin County Speedway is set for March 27. Motor Mile Speedway is looking at April 10. Dominion Raceway is running some track days. Wythe Raceway has April 2 on their schedule.

Check your local track for activities and schedules. Be aware of the guidelines as we move into the warmer racing season. We can go racing with a little common sense and keep the green flag waving.

Rain and racing. It is not a good mix but Bristol held out and went under the lights for the Food City 500 and the fans that hung in there saw a really good race full of what makes Bristol such a thing.

It is short track racing in a bowl and they mixed it up nicely. Bumps, spins and tangles put some in the garage and everyone that crossed the finish had some kind of battle damage.

The race started a bit late and went 22 laps before a caution and rain during clean up put the covers on and Penske team mates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski in the garage.

Several hours later the lights were coming on and the laps were being run. At the end of the day, or night, it was Matt Kenseth crossing where he started… In front. Other contenders and front runners were caught up in accidents that put them either off the pace or off the track completely.

Kevin Harvick, out front for a lion’s share, saw his run stop quickly when he caught the aftermath of a Jeb Burton spin which was set off by a touch from Jimmie Johnson. Harvick’s #4 Chevy was heavily damaged and out of the run.

Stewart-Haas team mate Kurt Busch was also putting in a run for the front but a late race pit for fresh tires put him in 6th on the restart and with 8 laps to go was suddenly stopped when Carl Edwards lost it running with Gordon near the front. Busch and the #41 had no place to go but into Edward’s #19.

The remaining Stewart-Haas drivers, Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick, managed to roll out with top 10 finishes.
Jimmie Johnson, despite damage and being well in the back at one point, managed to get back to second place with team mate Jeff Gordon right behind. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Ryan Newman filled the top 5.

Bristol was a boost for many in the field. Danica Patrick continues to run well with this top 10. It was Stewart’s best finish this season. Matt Kenseth has his first win since 2013. Gordon also needed a good run with not so hot performance in his last full season. Newman in the top 5 was a good run following the penalties for his team over tire handling issues.

There was also drama around the #11 and Denny Hamlin. The weather, the starting and stopping or just luck put him in a painful situation with a stiff neck. The long rain delay saw no real relief and the decision was made to put Xfinity driver Erik Jones into the #11 which he had never driven and was set, of course, for Hamlin. Jones finished 26th in his Sprint Cup “trial by Bristol fire” debut.

Now the focus rolls into Richmond. The scheduled night race of the Toyota Owners 400 is ramping up. The Xfinity series runs the night before. Some of the drivers will also be rolling out Thursday night in South Boston for the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown with the area’s top late model locals.

Hamlin should be loosened up and ready for his big charity event at SoBo and Richmon for the weekend.
Go Racing!

South Boston.

First, let me say my GPS hates me. It picked what may have been the straightest course but it was also littered with old tobacco barns, tractors, and State Troopers apparently tired of Interstate travel.

I’ve been to the South Boston Speedway before but have not come in this way. On the plus side, I did see parts of the town I had not been through previously. Quaint little shops and a downtown with some art and coulture scattered about.

Pretty.

Racing, of course, is what brought me back to South Boston. Every visit brings to mind the thought of “why do I not visit more often?”. Well, there is a distance issue. Even so, all things considered, it isn’t that far…

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