MARTINSVILLE, Va. — The Virginia Late Model Triple Crown is two-thirds complete and some familiar names find themselves at the top of the standings heading into the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway on October 5.
Defending Triple Crown winner Peyton Sellers, who finished fourth in Saturday night’s Hampton Heat at Langley Speedway, finds himself at the top of the standings with an average finish of 2.5. Sellers won the Thunder Road Harley-Davidson 200 presented by Grand Atlantic Resort at South Boston Speedway in June.
Lee Pulliam, who finished sixth at Langley and second at South Boston, finds himself in second. Timothy Peters sits in third, while Mike Looney and Brenden Queen round out the top-5.
Peters is hopeful that a come-from-behind Triple Crown win is in the works for his team.
“We were kind of in this position two years ago and came back and won the Triple Crown, so we know what we have to do,” Peters said, following his eighth place finish at Langley. “I like the fact that it pays the top-3. It gives each driver and team a little extra incentive knowing there’s a little bit of extra cash. If you work hard, it gives you a little bit more incentive.”
In 2017, Peters was in ninth place in the Triple Crown standings heading into Martinsville, after an 11th place finish at South Boston and a seventh at Langley. He went on to win the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 and edged Sellers in the Triple Crown by .3 in final standings, so he knows what it takes come from behind and win the Triple Crown. On the flip-side, an early crash at Martinsville took Peters out of contention for both the race win and the Triple Crown bonus in 2018.
“You’ve got to have a good car, but you’ve got to be patient to be there at the end (of the race at Martinsville),” Peters said. “You aren’t going to win the race or place in the Triple Crown on the first lap. We were in that position last year, being out of it after the first lap. You’ve got to be patient. You talk about attrition, it’s going to be wild at the end with that much money out there, but you have to be in position to be there.”
The new pay structure in 2019 rewards the top-3 finishers in the Triple Crown as opposed to just the winner, meaning drivers still have hope, even if they didn’t have the finish they wanted at South Boston or Langley.
One of those drivers is Brandon Pierce, who finished sixth at South Boston, but had a motor expire at Langley, relegating him to a 20th place finish. His average finish of 13 puts him 10th out of the 13 eligible drivers.
“We’re going to have a gap to make up, but we definitely aren’t out,” Pierce said. “Half the battle is survival and all of the changes to the race will make it so the field is really strong and you are going to end up with the 40 best cars. Knowing the top-3 Triple Crown positions pay, if you’re in position to win, that’s in your head. We are going to go in to Martinsville with nothing to lose and everything to gain and we are going to go in and try to win it. We’re going to need some help to win the Triple Crown, but we are definitely in position to place and hopefully we can also get a grandfather clock.”
The Virginia Late Model Triple Crown is a bonus that rewards the three drivers who have the best average finish in the Thunder Road Harley Davidson 200 presented by Grand Atlantic Resort at South Boston, the Hampton Heat at Langley Speedway and the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway.
The Triple Crown pays $7,000 to win, $2,000 for second and $1,000 for third.
The Triple Crown will conclude on October 5 at Martinsville Speedway with the ValleyStar Credit Union 300.
Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.
-Virginia Triple Crown Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51