Haley Moody made history on Sunday when she crossed the finish line to score her third win of the season at Southern National Motorsports Park (NC) and clinched the championship in the Limited Late Model division at the 4/10-mile high-banked oval.
The 19-year-old driver from Kinston, NC won the championship as a rookie in that division. She’s raced four-cylinder cars, Street Stocks and Chargers before, but this was her first year in the faster Limited Late Models. That alone makes her championship impressive, but there’s another thing that makes her title impressive.
“We didn’t even plan on running for points this year at all,” she said. “(But) we started finishing really well. Like top-fives every week. We actually won some and we just thought we might as well go through with it.”
It’s taken a few days, but the fact that she’s a champion is finally starting to sink in.
“Seeing all the posts on Facebook it’s finally kind of coming to me that we’ve won.”
Moody’s championship is the first ever championship for a woman in the Limited Late Model division at SNMP. She’s also just the second woman to ever win a championship at SNMP. Ashley Smith won the UCAR championship there in 2007.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” said Moody. “Not many people can say that they’re the first to do something.”
Moody had to overcome another obstacle as well during her quest for the championship. After the race on August 30, Moody’s car was deemed to be too light in post race inspection, which completely erased her advantage in the standings over Dillon Spain.
Moody appealed the decision and the decision was reversed almost five days later, giving back Moody’s 38-point advantage according to Race22.com.
She said that at the time she felt the right decision would be made by the track, but she wasn’t entirely sure that the officials would see things her way. Moody decided to do her best to not dwell on it over the course of those five days since she knew it was out of her control.
“I tried not to think about it,” she said. “I just said that whatever happens happens.”
She’s hoping that she can continue to move up the ladder and into a different division as the calendar flips to 2015, but she said there is no guarantee of that.
“It all really depends on sponsorship,” said Moody. “I would like to move up and keep moving up each year and try to get better but it all depends on money. I would like to travel some too and get my name out there. But it all depends.”
Moody has a few races left on her 2014 schedule. Now that the championship is locked up she’s just looking to get some more checkered flags.
“We can still win some more,” she said. “We have two races left.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (CT, Long Island, NJ) – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Alicia Hackett/Frameworks Photography