Peyton Sellers prevailed in a thrilling battle with Philip Morris to take the win in the Thunder Road Harley-Davidson 200 at South Boston Speedway (VA), taking this third career victory in the Independence Day staple of Late Model Stock Car racing.
Sellers and Morris restarted first and second with 16 laps to go in the 200-lap feature, and battled door-to-door and bumper-to-bumper for the $6,500 winner’s check. In the end, Sellers held off Morris for the victory in the first leg of the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown.
Sellers celebrated in victory lane after the hard-fought win, a victory lane named after “King” Philip Morris due to his dominance at the 0.4-mile oval over the years.
“He’s the best in the country, without a doubt,” Sellers told Speed51.com. “I just hope one day I can fill shoes like his. It’s big to beat Philip Morris here at South Boston. They named this victory lane after him for a reason. We beat the King tonight.”
Both Sellers and Morris overcame adversity before battling for the win. For Sellers, it was a tire losing air pressure near the first quarter mark of the race. A timely caution on lap 54 provided Sellers’ and his team the opportunity to change the tire under caution.
“I don’t question things,” Sellers said. “God always has a plan and a reason for everything. I felt the tire going down about ten laps prior to those guys catching me. I had said something on the radio, they were getting the tire ready. Just as they started passing me and I was debating on coming down pit road, two cars spun and brought out the caution. We got another caution to put us in position for the invert. To God be the glory.”
Morris would go on to lead the way to the halfway mark, where he collected a $1,000 halfway leader’s bonus – and drew a nine-car invert to place him on the fifth row for the restart.
“It was all but a dagger to the heart,” Morris said about the invert. “I saw that and thought it might be a little too hard to come back from. Really, the only way it was going to play out for us was if we got the cautions at the right spots. We did get one at the end, so we got every opportunity to win this thing and just came up short.”
Still, the two former NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champions found themselves battling for the win, giving each other all they could handle. At one point, Sellers was nearly sideways exiting turn two after contact from Morris, but the two continued on in their battle.
“He gave me all I wanted,” Sellers said about the thrilling finish. “He let me correct it. He didn’t take me out for the win. That’s what a true champion does.”
“I thought the only chance I had was if he made a mistake, and he’s rare to do that,” Morris said. “This is the kind of racing you dream about as a kid. Whether you’re on motorbikes, pedal bikes, that’s just fun. That’s just awesome. It might not have been as fun for Peyton, but I know for me I was waiting for him to make a mistake, and the man didn’t.
“I’m not taking him out,” Morris added. “I’ve got a lot of respect for that whole team. His crew chief, H.C. Sellers, used to be my crew chief. I’ll celebrate just as much as they will.”
Tyler Hughes finished third, a critical finish for him in a season that has had more downs than ups. When Morris and Sellers nearly tangled in turn two, Hughes briefly had a shot at the lead, but was unable to capitalize and settled happily for a strong podium finish.
“We really faded before that last restart,” Hughes said. “After we fired off, the car just got a whole bunch of grip again. I just tried to hang in there the best I could.
“I knew I couldn’t get by them cleanly,” Hughes continued. “I just sat back in the catbird’s seat, knew I had a solid third-place car. I’ve had a lot of bad luck this year, so a third place tonight in the South Boston 200 means a lot to me.”
South Boston Speedway returns to action on July 14, with twin-75 lap features for the Late Model Stock division. The Limited Sportsman, Pure Stocks, and Hornets will also be in action that night.
Race fans can relive all the action from Saturday’s South Boston 200 by visiting our Trackside Now updates. Click here to see the live updates from the race.
-Story by Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
South Boston 200 Unofficial Results
South Boston Speedway - June 30, 2018
Pos # Driver
1 26 Peyton Sellers
2 01 Philip Morris
3 11 Tyler Hughes
4 2P Brandon Pierce
5 22M Bobby McCarty
6 02 C.E. Falk III
7 41 Woody Howard
8 57 Justin Carroll (NC)
9 87 Mike Looney
10 4 Timmy Phipps
11 3 Nathan Crews
12 90 Terry Carroll
13 22C Grayson Cullather
14 64 Charles Barnes
15 83 Matt Bowling
16 22W Eric Winslow
17 8 Thomas Scott
18 12T Austin Thaxton
19 14 Dusty Ellington
20 24D Mason Diaz
21 28 Jason Barnes
22 8B Josh Oakley
23 75 Quincy Adkins
24 31 Thomas Beane
25 12P Timothy Peters
26 09 Bruce Anderson
27 91 Justin Carroll (VA)
28 16 Mark Wertz
29 38 Mark Keesee, Jr.
30 24G Colin Garrett
31 03 Brenden Queen
32 17 Stacy Puryear
33 2N Trevor Noles
34 18 Ty Gibbs
35 29 Stuart Crews