SOUTH BOSTON, Va. — Justin Carroll has been lurking in the background at South Boston Speedway the past couple of seasons. He’s no longer lurking nor is he in the background.
The 20-year-old driver from Williamsburg is undoubtedly the surprise of the young season at South Boston. In his first two years running Late Models at the .4-mile oval he had one top-10 finish. In the first three starts of 2016 he has three top 10s.
He finished eighth in the first race of the season, the opening half of twin 100-lappers, and immediately backed that up with a sixth in the nightcap. A week later he was racing back toward the front again, finishing eighth.
“I knew I had a lot of good things happen in the offseason and I figured we would come out (to start the season) pretty good, but I’m fairly surprised at how we’ve run so far,” said Carroll. “But we are expecting even better things coming up.”
The difference, Carroll says, was the influx of help, both monetarily and physically during the winter months.
“Before it was all out of my own pocket. From the time I was 17 when I got my first Late Model, I’ve paid all the bills,” said Carroll. “My boss is helping me full force now. He’s got a couple of businesses and we went in together and created a team. We put our money together and put it in the right areas and focused on what needed to be focused on.”
With his boss on board, the team was able to upgrade its motor program, now using Rayvon Clark-built engines. They also brought DeWayne Skinnell on as a fulltime crew chief, taking some of the shop pressure off of Carroll.
Carroll, who drives a Snap-On Tool truck for a living, says it also doesn’t hurt that his boss is just 25-years-old. “He understands everything I do. If I have to test and can’t work, he’ll work for me.”
Compared to many of his Late Model peers, Carroll doesn’t have a great deal of experience. But the experience he has is hands-on and up-close. He started in the UCar class at Langley Speedway when he was 15, sat out the next year when he bought a Late Model and took a year to get it race ready.
He began racing it the next year when he was 17 making this just his fourth full season in a Late Model.
Carroll and his followers, especially his father, longtime Late Model campaigner Terry Carroll, knew the youngster was talented. He showed a flash of it a couple of years ago when he and his father both made the prestigious Late Model race at Martinsville Speedway.
But there’s nothing like consistency to build confidence.
“This start has really helped boost the confidence up … especially running eighth and sixth against 32 cars. And running fourth for a while that first night was really cool,” said Carroll, who has backing from Wheel Wizard. “My crew chief has worked with a lot of other teams. He’s helped me a lot. The first practice at South Boston we were fifth fastest. I wasn’t expecting that. He’s been impressed with our feedback. I think we’ll get better and better.”
The lights turn on for the first time at South Boston Speedway this Saturday with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour 150 racing program. A 150-lap NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race will headline the night’s action with the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car Division being featured in twin 75-lap races. The four-race program will be capped by a 15-lap race for the Budweiser Hornets Division.
The first of the night’s four races will get the green flag at 7 p.m.
Advance tickets are on sale for $10 each, with advance tickets being available until 5 p.m. on Friday, April 8. Adult general admission tickets on race day will be priced at $15. Youth ages 7-12 will be admitted for $5 each with a paying adult. Kids six years of age and under will be admitted free with a paying adult.
-South Boston Speedway Press Release
-Photo Credit: South Boston Speedway Facebook