Big changes to the most prestigious Late Model Stock Car race in the country were revealed Wednesday morning during a press conference at Martinsville Speedway. Track President Clay Campbell announced that the 2019 ValleyStar 300 will now pay $32,000 to win, an increase of $7,000 compared to previous years. Additionally, changes to the race and qualifying format were revealed.
The $7,000 increase for the winner was part of an overall purse increase, with an emphasis on the top-five finishers. A total purse of $110,000 will now be distributed, including a big increase in payout to those who finish in the top five. The second-place finisher will now receive $8,000 (previously $6,500), third will pay $6,000 (previously $4,500), fourth will pay $5,000 (previously $4,000) and fifth will pay $4,000 (previously $3,000).
"That says a lot for this event, the competitors and the show that they put on is certainly worthy of an increased purse," Campbell said. "We've looked at this for a number of years, and we haven't done anything on the purse or the structure of the event for a while. We figured now is a good time to do that. I think that's going to be pretty exciting to see the guys battling for that increased money on Saturday night."
In addition to the increased payout for each position, other incentives for the race were announced. A total of $5,000 in lap leader bonus money will be on the line, with the leader of each of the 200 laps receiving a guaranteed $25. A $5,000 check will also be handed out to the driver who claims the pole award for the race on Friday night.
Qualifying for the race will return to single-car qualifying, unlike the group qualifying format that has been used in recent years. The top 20 qualifiers from single-car qualifying will now be locked into Saturday's main event. In previous years, only the top two qualifiers were locked in and the remaining drivers were split into three qualifying races. In 2019, there will be only two 50-lap qualifying races, each qualifying the top-10 finishers to the ValleyStar 300. There will no longer be a last chance qualifier to transfer additional teams into the race.
During the race itself, there will now be only two scheduled breaks on lap 75 and lap 150. During those breaks, teams will be allowed to do anything they would like to the car in the allotted time. Teams will be allowed to change four tires during the race however they see fit.
Following the final break on lap 150, the final 50 laps will run without an inversion and without a scheduled break. Drivers will have 50 laps to get up on the wheel to chase the grandfather clock and a minimum payout of $32,025.
Campbell also announced a change to the format when it comes to how the race will finish. Unlike in previous years, the ValleyStar 300 will finish under green flag conditions in 2019. Previously, drivers had just three attempts to finish the race on a green-white-checkered finish. There will now be unlimited attempts to finish the race under green.
When it comes to the rules for the race, Campbell vowed that no changes will be made to the rule book in order to ensure parity during the race weekend. This comes one year after a decision was made on race day to add weight to cars running the Harrington Enforcer engine.
"Whatever they come in here with engine wise, gear wise, as long as it's in the rule book and on that entry, we're not changing a thing from test night through the checkered flag on Saturday night," Campbell stated. "It is what it is. We're not going to do anything to create parity. These guys run with each other every week and I think if you keep up with it you see the competitive races we've already had this year at the various weekly tracks. We don't need to do anything to create parity; they have it."
Speed51.com will have more from Wednesday's press conference soon. A video stream of the press conference can be viewed by clicking here.
The ValleyStar 300 will take place at Martinsville Speedway Friday, October 4 and Saturday, October 5. More information can be found by visiting www.martinsvillespeedway.com.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor - @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com