Virginia racing in 2022 raised the bar a bit. There was quite a bit of attention on some profile events. NASCAR, for example, ran up some winning numbers.
Denny Hamlin had his first 2022 win at Richmond in April. Kevin Harvick rolled his second win there in August. Both of these drivers had 2 wins which put both in the playoffs.
William Byron also had 2 wins and a playoff bid with Martinsville hosting one of those in April. The playoff elimination race at Martinsville was also one for the books. Up to the final laps, the race was really conservative. Drivers and teams played the race with caution rather than charge and risk equipment or place. The late laps developed into more of a race but it was Ross Chastain that made the move to be remembered. Running on the outside with his foot on the floor, he drove the wall of turn 3 and 4, literally, to hold speed and pass Hamlin to make run at the “final 4”.
Late Model racing also came down to the wire for the championship. The NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series came down to some controversy and tight racing at Motor Mile and Dominion Raceway. Virginia was the focus from the western to the eastern part of the state. Defending Champ Peyton Sellers and Layne Riggs were separated by just a few points. The Motor Mile races ran hot with Sellers in a borrowed car for the wins. Those races were later held out and the Dominion races pushed the points with Riggs on top by 4. Riggs was now the youngest champion. The previous one to hold that distinction was Sellers.
Another big score for Virginia was the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) running at South Boston. Drivers from across the spectrum settled in for national TV network racing showcasing the track and the southside Virginia region. NASCAR and IndyCar stars such as Tony Stewart and Ryan Hunter-Reay were just a couple of highlight drivers running on the historic South Boston asphalt.
Virginia International Raceway has been a national showcase for the state with nothing but growth and support from IMSA (ROLEX 24 level of racing here in VA), Grand-Am, F3/F4 and more. VIR has been consistent with fans and drivers.
Dirt tracks certainly had a good showing with Virginia racing. There is good support from the east at Virginia Motor Speedway to to the west at Wythe Raceway. Winchester in the north to Natural Bridge in south central ran weekly with a good show variety.
Drag racing even had a national return as Virginia Motorsports Park added NHRA Nationals to their busy 2022 schedule.
The result is a strong racing foundation in Virginia grass roots and fan support. For 2023, we’re hoping these events keep the energy high. NASCAR, of course, has 4 appearances (6, if you count Bristol on the Tennessee side) split at Richmond and Martinsville. NHRA may be skipping VMP in 2023 but there will be plenty of other big series running the lights. The SRX series is also back in Virginia with a spot on the Motor Mile schedule! IMSA, SRO and Hyperfest are just some of the returning events for VIR.
Strap in, Virginia… Racing is coming in hot!