There was fire coming in and smoke took him out. Bobby McCarty had an edge coming to Martinsville and practice pushed qualifying up a degree or two. He was also the “Triple Crown South Boston winner. (Brendan Queen came to Martinsville with the Langley win of the “Triple Crown”.) McCarty had the starting spot and had the early position. If he fell off the front he stayed close enough to challenged for it. It was practically his race for two thirds of it until the smoke came from under the hood and out the back and took McCarty and the #6 off the track.
Most of the “Triple Crown” hopefuls either had up front time or were close enough to keep pressure on. The final 25 laps following the scheduled pit stop option stirred the mix. The restart had most of the challengers within striking distance with Carson Kvapil next to Trevor Ward. Landon Huffman, Peyton Sellers, Doug Barnes and Brendan Queen were all there ready to push forward.
The final laps sparked some cautions and restarts and Peyton Sellers looked like he could repeat but fell back as Trevor Ward managed to battle to the inside of the #26. Kvapil had been running with Sellers but Ward on the inside managed to get by and pull Landon Huffman along with him. Ward and Huffman ran wheel to wheel pushing up front. Ward in the #77 had Huffman in the #22 on the outside as wheels rubbed and smoke flew from the contact. That bit of hard racing contact out of turn 4 made the #22 go loose allowing Ward to move in front but Huffman kept the heat on as Ward crossed the checkers with a half car lead for the win.
The VSCU 300 win also put Ward on top of the average finishes in the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown contest. He collected the winner’s purse and the top “Triple Crown” award. Brendan Queen had a run well enough to earn the second prize and Peyton Sellers came away with the third place position.
Full Photo Gallery from Martinsville Speedway – Valley Star Credit Union 300
It was coming… Every driver and team and official new it. The question hovered about as the day progressed.
Friday was the day to practice, dial in, tune up and prepare to qualify. The weather lingered in the southern Atlantic taking aim as laps and wrenches turned. The only plan, of course, was to stay on course. Get done what can be done. Let the chips fall, or the rain as it was, if that turns to be the case.
Which it was… Saturday was a push to Sunday. That decision came well ahead of scheduled activities so there would be little confusion.
For racing and positions, the Valley Star Credit Union 300 is the third race in the “Virginia Triple Crown”. The first two are South Boston Speedway and Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway. Bobby McCarty won at SoBo (Carson Kvapil crossed the checkers but failed post race inspection) and Brendan “Butterbean” Queen has the win from Langley. The two drivers finished 2nd (Butterbean at SoBo) and 3rd (McCarty at Langley) are 1/2 spot away from each other coming to Martinsville.
Trevor Ward, Brandon Pierce and Logan Clark are filling the top five bracket chasing the crown at Martinsville. Defending VSCU 300 Winner Peyton Sellers, coming off a Championship at Dominion Raceway, is joining drivers from across the region to challenge the track and points leaders for that Grandfather Clock prize.
Qualifying from Friday has Bobby McCarty showing top speed and will lead the first of four “heat” races setting the main event running order at the green. Landon Huffman will lead the second qualifying race. Carson Kvapil will lead off the third and Ryan Millington starts up front for the fourth. The top 10 of each go to the main. McCarty, and the other qualifying starters, have no guarantees so racing to the main will have the pressure on.
The 25 lap qualifying races start off at 1:00pm. Pre-race and introductions begin around 3:00pm with the main event set to go green at 5:00pm. This compressed schedule was set for Sunday after a major storm (Ophelia) swept the region through Saturday.
Photos From Friday – Valley Star Credit Union 300 – September 22, 2023
**Results for the Sentara late Model – Thunder Road Harley Davidson 200 updated due to disqualification of race night winner.
The calendar presents a timeline that, on the surface, does not add up. Circumstances of reality, however, put us on the tenth anniversary of the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown.
What is it? It is a cooperative set of races from three tracks in Virginia. Previously, these tracks had showcase events focused on each track but the results only held the prestige and payouts assigned by each facility. A discussion was held to tie events together with combined results carrying to each track for a big payout. Clay Campbell of Martinsville Speedway was directly involved with Langley Speedway (Bill Mullis) and South Boston Speedway (Cathy Rice) leading into 2012 for the first year of the “Triple Crown”.
When is it? South Boston hosts the first of the three races. The Thunder Road Harley-Davidson 200 for early July. Langley has the Hampton Heat in late July. Martinsville Speedway has the finale, the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, in September.
The payouts…? The best, combined result of the three races wins $7,000, second takes $2,000 and third gets $1,000. That, of course, is on top of each track purse earned on race day by the winners and designated place payouts.
The timeline. Yes, the first sanctioned “Triple Crown” ran in 2012. Phillip Morris won the day but it was C.E. Falk III that had the carry over results from SoBo and Langley to win the first “Triple Crown”. However, circumstances prevented the Triple Crown from happening for two separate years. Martinsville still held their big late model race in 2016 but Langley Speedway had owner/management issues for 2016 and did not run. For 2020, racing nationwide was rattled by the Covid pandemic.
The track attendance was, in a word, huge. Fans were still arriving as the front stretch was open for meet and greet with drivers during an autograph session. Weather threatened the racing, and even cut short the autographs, as rain came in with a rumble of thunder. Track drying was on and even more fans came as the scheduled green flag was ready to fly.
The evening event ran support races from the regular points schedule for SoBo. Running on the big night gave these drivers a big audience. Opening ceremonies also gave fans a sky show as the Bandit Flight Team from Raleigh, NC flew over with the National Anthem.
Budweiser Limited Sportsman (40 laps): Eric Winslow started up front and drove to the win. The action was hot behind Winslow with challengers going for position bringing a lap one caution. The racing settled a bit but Winslow couldn’t be caught. Jason Myers gave it a good shot but only enough for second place. Bob Davis, Justin Dawson and Drew Dawson rounded out the top-five from the 14 drivers that started.
Southside Disposal Pure Stock (20 laps): Bruce Mayo was a dominant force leading most of the race and taking the checkers. He got by Johnny Layne and held defending division champion, Scott Phillips, in the mirror for his first win of this season. Phillips finished second, Layne was third with Zach Reaves and Andrew Turner filling the top five.
Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets (20 laps): Jason DeCarlo also ran a dominant race with a pole start and an up front run of the distance. The win is also his first of the season. Steven Layne drove to second. Kendall Milam took third as D.J. Moser and Dillon Davis rolled in the top five.
Sentara Late Model / Triple Crown Leg One (200 laps): Carson Kvapil seemed to have the night with a race leading drive to the checkered flag. **However – post race inspection and deliberation determined a rear shock was out of division spec so the race win went to Bobby McCarty. Landon Huffman was also disqualified with a shock issue and a rear end housing not in compliance.
Brenden Queen started on pole but fell back a bit. Queen still put the pressure on but Bobby McCarty and Landon Huffman were there as the race came into the final laps to make challenges to Kvapil. At the checkers, McCarty finished second with Huffman on for third. Queen came in fourth and Trevor Ward filled the top five.
**With the disqualifications, the official top five are: Bobby McCarty, Brenden Queen, Trevor Ward, Landon Pembelton, Jacob Borst.
Thirty-five drivers started and the crowded field with challenges for position threw the caution seven times for 25 percent of the race. Those challenges took their toll as drivers retired with damage beyond race time repair. As an example, defending Virginia Late Model Triple Crown winner, Peyton Sellers took heavy damage early on and managed to get back out for a few laps before retiring. The damage may put pressure on Sellers for the season as his points lead at South Boston also took a hit.
Drivers came in from around the region and some were heading home with damaged cars. Rivals from Pulaski County Motorsports Park, Mike Looney and Kyle Dudley, were both going home bruised. Dudley had even been challenging in the top five for his part but a 3 wide squeeze turned him with a crash just after the half way point that caught Looney and retired at least three or four others. Also crashing out was Layne Riggs. The defending track champion and NAAPWS 2022 champion was caught up racing for position with Landon Pembelton as contact put Riggs into the wall.
The next leg for the Virginia Triple Crown is at Langley Speedway later in July. The finale runs at Martinsville Speedway later in the year.
*This article has been updated due to official findings and results following technical post race inspections.
Full Photo Gallery – Thunder Road Harley-Davidson 200 / South Boston Speedway
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