On Friday afternoon the Late Model Stock Car world was unsure if South Boston Speedway (VA) would play host to any sort of short track racing the next day after a savage thunderstorm hit the track during the afternoon test session. Signs, fences and team equipment were blown all around the speedway and the track suffered minor damage after nearly an inch of rain fell in one storm.
However, yeoman’s work on Saturday by track officials allowed for 31 teams to compete in the South Boston 200, the annual big money event that pays $10,000 to the winner.
The field was stacked as it always is, with defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion Philip Morris, six-time South Boston 200 winner Lee Pulliam, and CARS Tour standouts Josh Berry and Layne Riggs among the entries. It was an all-star showdown, but the cream of a local flavor rose to the the top once again.
2018 track champion Peyton Sellers from nearby Danville, Virginia has had a stellar year thus far and that continued Saturday as he passed Lee Pulliam on a late restart to score the victory.
“The track was different on Saturday after all the rain was washed off it from the day before,” Sellers told Speed51. “We all had our hands full. We were still able to qualify sixth and run in the top 10 all night. Several guys had good cars at certain points in the race and we were strong at the end when it counts. I was surprised on the final restart that Pulliam gave us the top, we were able to roll off turn two and get the lead and hold it.”
For Sellers, it was his second-straight win and fourth overall in the South Boston 200, which is the first leg of the Virginia Late Model Stock Car Triple Crown. The win a year ago allowed Sellers to establish himself as the triple crown champion for the third time in his career.
“It’s really cool to be a part of Virginia racing history, and I think the Triple Crown has brought back some of the magic of the bigger races,” Sellers stated. “I grew up watching Barry Beggarly and Larry Blankenship run Late Models around the region. Now with the Triple Crown you see the best guys battle at the biggest races during the year. The crown usual comes down to a spot or two on the track. We lost the title by a few spots one year so we know every spot matters.”
The second leg of the Virginia Triple Crown will take place at Langley Speedway (VA) with the Hampton Heat 200. Sellers has already tasted victory this year at Langley and hopes to nab win number two on July 20.
“We won a mid-week open show there this year and we ran strong in twin races a few weeks back,” he said. “We want to win the Hampton Heat 200, no doubt. We don’t want to think about national points or triple crown points, but it’s there in the back of your mind. Right now we just want to go for wins.”
In addition to the Triple Crown, Sellers is out of gates strong and is leading the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national point standings. He was the champion at this level in 2005 when he was 21 years old.
“A lot of time has passed since that championship and my racing career has taken me in many different directions,” sad Sellers. “Now we are racing at our home track and it’s a family affair with dad spotting and brother as my crew chief. We are a team that is a year older and more experienced, and the results show.”
Sellers was fourth in the national standings a year ago. Now, he’s leading the parade and a big full-field win at South Boston is only going to add to his points lead.
“This would mean a lot,” Sellers admitted. “I always say I don’t really want to look at the points on a track level, or a national level. If you want to win the national title you have to keep an eye on it and put points on the board early. At the end of the day, I’m more confident and the team is the same and we are just clicking right now.”
-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: South Boston Speedway