To quote Inigo Montoya on the bridge in “The Princess Bride” with Westley (Man in Black) and Fezzik…
“Let me explain……. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”
The racing at Martinsville Speedway always has angles. This year, the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 put stories on the board like yarn stretched between clues on an old detective’s wall…

Going into the weekend it was a point to point pull on national points which, apparently, fell to an official NASCAR audit of season races, licenses and car counts. At the end of the mathematical juggling, the defending NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Champion was not the new Champion for 2022. That fell to Layne Riggs who won out over Peyton Sellers by single digits. Sellers is a two time Champion and was the youngest to win it at age 21 in 2005. That “youngest” now goes to Riggs at age 20.

Peyton Sellers, however, may have used the disappointment on the championship as motivation for Martinsville as he ran up front giving challenge to Mike Looney for the first stages of racing. Looney won the first two stages but Sellers was right there and ready to challenge. The late race restarts saw Sellers take and hold the lead all the way to the checkers. The win also snagged the “Virginia Triple Crown” of late model points between South Boston, Langley and Martinsville. Combined, Sellers came away with a payday for the team and a Martinsville Grandfather Clock. The clock, Peyton says, is going to long time sponsor, Clarence’s Steak House.

There was also the little incident from the heat races that went socially viral. Andrew Grady made his way to Davey Callihan’s car while others were still coming in from the first heat. Grady went “Mike Tyson” on Callihan through the window net and had to be pulled and carried away. The unfortunate side effect of the on track shuffle may have been the race day hopes of a young racer who has been making some late model waves. Katie Hettinger was caught up and her bruised #71 did not advance to the main event. The bouncing of Grady and Callihan on track likely put a dent or two on Hettinger’s Chevy in the on track hustle.

There were a number of younger drivers making a show at this 300. Katie Hettinger is 15. Rajah Carruth, Mini Tyrrell and Jessica Cann are some other younger faces making waves and entries trying to shine at Martinsville. The defending winner of the event last year, Landon Pembleton, was running well but engine trouble put him further back. These young guns were racing with veterans like Peyton Sellers, Timothy Peters, Mike Looney, Stacy Puryear and others. The changing of the guard was in plain view at Martinsville.

Beyond the racing for this year, there was more news on the future of this event. Martinsville Speedway and ValleyStar Credit Union announced the sponsor partnership will continue forward. The ValleyStar Credit Union 300 will continue to be the third jewel of the “Virginia Late Model Triple Crown”.

For this year, the top five were Peyton Sellers, Carson Kvapil, Jacob Heafner, Mike Looney, Kaden Honeycutt.
Mike Looney took home the prize as winner of stages one and two.
Bobby McCarty won the qualifying pole award.
The “Triple Crown” results: Peyton Sellers, Jared Fryar, Mason Diaz

Photo Gallery – ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway

Late season racing is running up on tracks all over with local and national points on the rack. South Boston Speedway had already run their championship with Layne Riggs edging Peyton Sellers for the track title. Sellers had actually won the two SoBo races that night but Riggs finished close enough to hold the lead in points. The national lead had been cut, however, as Sellers was now 4 points off in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series championship. It’s a title Sellers is defending…

CMC Supply Championship Night at Motor Mile Speedway was put off by rain from 9/10. There was already a big Monster Truck / Destruction Tour set for the 17th so they ran Friday the 16th. This little bit of scheduling opened the door for some drama. Riggs and Sellers were already going to run the 17th at Dominion Raceway for the last shot at those national points. With racing on for the Friday night before at Motor Mile, it opened the door for another shot to accumulate some points. Let the drama begin…

It was still championship night for Motor Mile regulars even if there were visitors pulling a national points train with them. The train, it seems, turned out get slightly derailed.

But first… Championship Night. The disruption in the late model chase may, or may not, have put ripples in the local contest. Mike Looney held the slight edge over Kyle Dudley coming into the evening but a spin in race #1 and a park on race 2 allowed Dudley to take 2nd and 3rd place points and the track championship.
Price’s Body Shop Late Model Race 1: Peyton Sellers, Kyle Dudley, Thomas Scott
Price’s Body Shop Late Model Race 2: Peyton Sellers, Cory Dunn, Kyle Dudley
Price’s Body Shop Late Model Track Champion 2022: Kyle Dudley

The other divisions that ran for division track champion are below. There were plenty of drivers in these divisions going for wins so the track action was quite good. The charge for the championship points, however, pushed the drivers up front.
Total Car Care Mod-4s 1st race: Kevin Canter, Jonathan Hall, Tony Sarver
Total Car Care Mod-4 2nd race: Kevin Canter, Tony Sarver, Joe White
Total Car Care Mod-4 Champion 2022: Kevin Canter
Blue Ridge Church U-Car 1st race: Kirby Shipman, Jamie Lafon, Blake Gordon
Blue Ridge Church U-Car 2nd race: Kirby Shipman, Jamie Lafon, Kyle Akers
Blue Ridge Church U-Car Champion 2022: Jamie Lafon
Blue Ridge Church Pure4 1st race: John Ketron, *William Hale, Larry Stapleton
Blue Ridge Church Pure4 2nd race: *William Hale, Larry Stapleton, James Hicks
Blue Ridge Church Pure4 Champion 2022: William Hale

Two other divisions raced but their championships come to a close the night of October 1st. That will be a big night for race fans as it is also SMART Modified night! The Sportsman and the Super Streets will have twin races each with the SMART Mods running a 99 lap charge in the middle. For CMC Supply night on the 16th, the top 3 finishers are below and the *asterisk marks the current points leader.
Collision Plus Sportsman: Kyle Barnes, Drew Bond, *Karl Budzevski
DCT Towing Super Streets: Brent Bell, *Hank Turman, Taylor Ransom
NOTE: Drew Bond may be points out of the championship hunt but his 2nd place was shadowed by his first place ring presentation. He proposed during post race presentations and, if the smiles were any indication, his girlfriend advanced her position to fiancé!)

Drew Bond races to 2nd place / Sportsman – Girlfriend advances to fiancé at Motor Mile Speedway

As for the “out of towners” Sellers and Riggs… The drama seemed to center on another visitor to Motor Mile. He’s a younger driver that has already made waves by winning the ValleyStar 300 at Martinsville Speedway last year. Landon Pembleton was there with his Pembleton Realty #0 Toyota, which just happened to be a car from the Sellers Racing stable. During the earlier practices, Sellers’ #26 Clarence’s Toyota was not delivering. Wrenching and adjustments made little progress. The #0, however, was performing quite well. The two teams and drivers got together, and with so much on the line for Sellers and driver’s points, the decision was made to trade off on the cars. Sellers qualified in, and raced in, the blue #0 Toyota. Pembleton piloted the orange and white #26.

(It should be noted that Landon Pembleton drove an ill performing #26 that is not his usual ride to a 4th and 5th place at an unfamiliar race track. He will be one to watch as a defending winner at the upcoming ValleyStar 300 at Martinsville.)

This driver seat switch did not sit well with some… Layne Riggs was so put off he parked before the green flag during the warming laps of the late model race 2. Mike Looney may have also parked his #87 before the green for similar reasons. Potentially, he still had a run on the track championship but it is also quite possible the #87 was still down on performance from the first race and a turn 3 – 4 spin. Whatever the reasons, it was enough to drop the required car count for national standings. The first race held, as far as we know. The national NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series points battle would carry over to Saturday at Dominion Raceway.

Peyton Sellers is set to return to Motor Mile Speedway for the big LMSC 200 with $10,000 on the table on October 8th. He’ll have a tough path to win as regulars and visitors will also be there to go for that big pot.

PHOTO GALLERY – Motor Mile Speedway – CMC Supply Championship Night – 9/16/2022

The season championship came to a head Saturday night (9-3-2022) at South Boston Speedway. Defending National Champion and SoBo Track Champion, Peyton Sellers, was up against some hard numbers from competitor Layne Riggs for this racing season. Coming into the Halifax County Farm Bureau Championship Night, Riggs had the advantage locally and in the regional points for the national title.

Race night had two, 65 lap Late Model runs on tap and Sellers took the win in both. However, Riggs crossed the checkers in the 2nd slot for both. The double win was not enough for Sellers to regain the track title but it did narrow the chase for the national points. Layne Riggs is the 2022 SoBo Late Model Track Champion.

The Budweiser Limited Sportsman bunch also ran doubles with a Track Championship possibly on the bubble. It was Kyle Barnes racing into third in both races to maintain his points for the Track Championship. He was a runner at Motor Mile and began racing at SoBo early on with some wins and stuck to his game. Jason Myers gave it a run with second slots in both races but it wasn’t enough to catch Barnes. It was Eric Winslow, coming in from NC for a first time run this season, that may have upset the cart with the pole and the win in both of the Sportsman races.

The other divisions at South Boston also had race winners share the spotlight with track champions. The Southside Disposal Pure Stocks had Nathan Crews take the win while Scott Phillips finished fourth carrying enough points to claim the Track Championship for the division. Phillips had an 8 point lead over Johnny Layne coming in and, despite having no wins still held enough points to claim the Championship for a first time. Layne drove in for second.

Jason DeCarlo and Kevin Currin came into SoBo chasing the same Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division Championship. DeCarlo managed to finish a spot in front of Currin to claim the 2022 Hornets Championship. The actual finish order was bumped as race winner Steven Layne’s car failed post race inspection. The official order was changed to put Kendall Milam on the win, with Dillon Davis in second. Landon Milam, DeCarlo and Currin were set in the top five.

The Mills Family Practice Champ Karts ran a 20 lap race with Tyler Wray taking the win. Wray started on pole, briefly fell back but retook that lead position on the 2nd lap. Dustin Phillips rolled over the line in the second slot.

South Boston Speedway is hosting some fun and fast events coming up. Later in September, the Country Roads Truck Show comes in. October brings the CARS Tour and SoBo Drifts.

PHOTO GALLERY – SOUTH BOSTON SPEEDWAY
Halifax County Farm Bureau Championship Night

Race fans in Virginia should consider themselves quite lucky. The variety and class of racing events that come through are a true showcase of motorsports. NASCAR brings the CUP show to Richmond and Martinsville and sanctions weekly events at short tracks all over the state. However, for natural beauty mixed with speed and diversity, we have Virginia International Raceway.

Dominion in Northern VA does boast a road course but it is smaller and a bit confined. Another facility is over the northern state line. Summit Point in West Virginia, between Winchester and Charles Town, is also a really nice driving track with a lot to offer.

Virginia International Raceway is, as described by legends such as Carroll Shelby, Paul Newman and certain British TV car show personalities, a beautiful jewel of automotive paradise. Since the resurrection and rebirth of the track from the original to the current, VIR has managed to place its name into big series race schedules. Grand-Am, Moto-America, F3/F4, GT World Challenge are all taking up slots. Vintage shows and state of the art exotic racing make their way into the paddock and onto the track. The top tier may be the IMSA WeatherTech Series. They have been a part of the VIR schedule for quite a while with American Le Mans and the transition to IMSA as it is now.

The 2023 schedule is out and VIR is, again, on for August. The event for 2022 gave us variety of cars and racing with good, sunny weather to run it in. The support series of Lamborghini Trofeo and Mazda MX5 put great competition numbers on the track. The LMP3 Prototype Challenge showcased speed and big power challenges on the twisty, paved hillside. The Virginia Is For Racing Lovers Grand Prix – Michelin Pilot Challenge highlighted Saturday with the Michelin GT WeatherTech Sports Car Championship on track to close out Sunday and the weekend.

We are fortunate to have a place like VIR to bring this type of showcase racing to Virginia. It was almost lost. It is the dedication and work of the current owners and all who have been on the team from the relaunch to the present that have made it possible. The track sat practically forgotten except for a handful of “trespassers” doing hot lap joy rides during the off years. The history is deep and the story of it coming back to such prominence is inspiring. It is a proud place to visit.

*Now… If something could be done about the Pagoda Grill… Sorry… But it needs to be said. It is the flat tire slowing everything else down… This is not to be confused with the Oak Tree Tavern which is in a beautiful, historic structure and offers a tasty, delightful menu with nice scenery. This is the Pagoda, right on the paddock. Expect long lines and less than fantastic food for prices that should boast much better results. Get some food trucks. Expand the offerings. Bring it up to speed to match the reputation of the rest of the facility… Please.

Back to the track and racing. That’s why we’re there. Food isn’t everything… Right…?

Photos of much of the action are linked up below also showing the top three finishers of the events 2022 events at Virginia International Raceway:

Michelin GT Challenge at VIR – IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship – PHOTO GALLERY

Virginia Is For Racing Lovers Grand Prix – IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge – PHOTO GALLERY

IMSA Prototype Challenge – VIR LMP3 – PHOTO GALLERY

IMSA Lamborghini Trofeo – VIR Lamborghini America – PHOTO GALLERY

IMSA Mazda MX5 – VIR Mazda – PHOTO GALLERY

Summer weather is a bit unpredictable… For the most part, Saturday night at Motor Mile Speedway had a slight chance of a passing shower. That “slight” chance opened the sky for good 30 minute downpour which, of course, pushed racing back by a little more than 30 minutes. Qualifying was interrupted but track trying was under way by the time the original green flag was to fly. The schedule was juggled just a bit and the scheduled 75 laps of twin Late Model races was cut to 50 laps.

Other than that, the stories at Motor Mile were wide open. The visiting Super Cup Late Models presented a good field of cars. The Late Model “regulars” even had some visitors boosting those numbers on the track. The season has a rivalry challenge brewing as Mike Looney and Kyle Dudley are dominating this season and it seems some of those visitors were taking their shot at making a dent.

Among the visitors were two ladies challenging the Late Models… 15 year old Katie Hettinger (Michigan), who has notched some race wins and has runs in the Carolina Pro and CARS Tours, and Samantha Rohrbaugh (West Virginia), who also runs some Super Cup but was challenging the Late Models at Motor Mile for this one. It was also notable that Katie and Samantha started the first Late Model race side by side on the front row.

Another Late Model interest was Motor Mile regular Bryan Reedy as he was there running a borrowed and blue #77 with a little tape to mark it up as #17 for the evening. His regular car still had lingering damage from the week before.

One more regular season race is on the schedule for Championship points across the board. That comes up in September. The CARS Tour is on tap for the 28th of August. Racing this past Saturday, August 20, did move the standings a bit.

Mike Looney pushed just 5 points beyond Kyle Dudley with his double shot Late Model wins. Dudley drove in the second slot in both and visiting Katie Hettinger drove in third in both. (*We were pleasantly surprised to see Katie there. It was unexpected. We met her last season at Franklin County and look forward to seeing more good results and a hot future.)

Karl Budzevski added to his dominant Sportsman season with double shot wins. The Super Street division has several contenders and Joe White made the win and a move up. Kevin Cantor grabbed a Mod-4 win and also moved within top spot striking distance. Jamie Lafon extended his UCar lead and William Hale did the same in Mod-4.

Larry Berg and Jason Kitzmiller split the Super Cup Late Model wins. Berg took the first and Kitzmiller took the second.

Full Photo Gallery from A-1 Heating and Cooling Night at Motor Mile Speedway

Wow… Somewhat unexpected but not completely. Kevin Harvick won at Richmond.

Kyle Larson had the pole in the Federated Auto Parts 400 and finished 14th. Harvick started 13th and crossed the checkers with the win so it was almost a spot trade. It’s OK as Larson is still ranked a few spots above Harvick even though Larson has one win against Harvick’s two…

It is NASCAR points math… Just run with it and don’t be confused…

Ross Chastain was the stage 1 winner. Joey Logano took stage 2 and also led the race for the high count of 222 laps.

We also have to take a late season look at Harvick… There could be any combination of reasons that kept Harvick out of Victory Lane for so long. The “new” NextGen car, team and crew issues, experience tempered with age… What can’t be overlooked, however, is that Kevin is a Cup Champion that has a history in this sport that bridges the past and future. It was Harvick who drove the Earnhardt car with #29 in 2001…

However, one week before Richmond, Harvick broke a 65 race winless streak at Michigan. Now he has two wins back to back with the 60th Cup win just now at Richmond…

Has something clicked…? Has this new car come into the grips of Harvick just in time to make a real run in 2022…? Was 2021 on cruise control…? Did Stewart-Haas change the coffee in the shop…?

Harvick’s Crew Chief, Rodney Childers, believes the team and all involved have been steadily taking the new car forward for the past few months and it is coming together with results.

Whatever, the reason… Luck, skill or collaboration… The #4 team have two wins and, no matter who wins or loses before the playoff cutooff, that puts Harvick in the post-season Championship run.

NASCAR moves on to the two final races in the regular season. Watkins Glen and Daytona give the final chances to “win in” to the playoffs. Ryan Blaney is currently in the mix without a season win so far. If another driver wins that hasn’t already Blaney’s points move to the back burner.

Darlington is the first race in the playoffs. Martinsville is the last elimination before the “Championship 4” go for it at Phoenix.

Full PHOTO GALLERY – Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway