Saturday was a good day to be a part of Sellers Racing.
The Danville, Virginia-based team put one driver in victory lane in both ends of the twin 75-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car features and saw their team figurehead score a second South Boston Speedway track championship.
Peyton Sellers, one of the most decorated drivers in the history of the Virginia 4/10-mile oval, finished fourth and second in the two features to clinch his second track title. The former NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion held off his championship celebration so that Matt Bowling, a driver who operates out of the same shop, could celebrate his twin victories Saturday night.
It was a banner night for a team that has seen plenty of banners hung from South Boston over the years.
“I’m just tickled to death and we’ve been really blessed to have Matt on our team this year,” said Sellers of his championship and his relationship with Bowling, who finished second in points. “He’s been a real team player all year. We didn’t get him as many wins as we were hoping to get him this year because he was fast a lot of nights. That’s what this is all about at Sellers Racing. This is truly a team effort.
“We’ve had a lot of cars run one-two. Sometimes I beat Matt, sometimes he beats me. We put equal efforts into both teams and we’ve got some good drivers coming up too.”
Just a few years ago, Sellers’ success at South Boston earned a grandstand being named in his honor on the track’s front stretch. He joined track legends such as Stacy Compton, Elliott Sadler, David Blankenship and Ward and Jeff Burton with that honor. Victories are what earned Sellers’ honor and status at South Boston, not championships. The title clinched Saturday was just the driver’s second track title. His first came in 2005, the same year he won the NWAAS National Championship.
“I won the championship in 2005 and since then I haven’t run many full seasons here,” said Sellers. “I’ve only run one full season here since 2005 and I finished second in points to Matt (in 2012). Now Matt finishes second to me two years later. I’ve just been doing a few Truck races here and there and haven’t really focused on points. This is home track, for sure. I’m thankful to get four wins and a championship here.”
Bowling made sure it was a Sellers sweep of the night by dominating every lap from the pole in the first 75-lap feature Saturday. An invert of the top-six finishers from race one put him deeper in the field for the second race, but he got a huge break when the leaders slid up the track and tangled on the first lap. He then benefited when leader Josh Oakley suffered a mechanical failure and took him out of contention. That put Bowling in position to chase and eventually pass Kaz Grala with 23 laps remaining to complete the sweep.
“A lot of stuff went our way this race,” said Bowling after the second race victory. “We had a top-three car, but sometimes you have to have a little luck go your way. We’ve had enough bad luck this year, I felt it was about our time to start getting some good luck.”
Like his teammate Peyton Sellers, Bowling gave a lot of credit to his Sellers Racing team, particularly crew chief H.C. Sellers. Bowling and H.C., Peyton’s brother, now have three straight Late Model victories at South Boston to lead them into the most prestigious Late Model Stock Car events in the country, the MDCU 300 at Martinsville Speedway next month.
“Me and H.C. have been working hard this year,” said Bowling, who also won the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown earlier in the season at South Boston. “We’ve had a few wrecks and we’re not quite back to where we were, but we’re getting all over it. I’m confident that H.C. can get it right going into Martinsville and get it spot on. It’s going to take a lot of work, just like every weekend.”
Bowling was one of the first drivers to congratulate Sellers on the championship.
“He’s the man,” Bowling said of Sellers. “He’s a household name in Late Model racing. He’s been there, done that and he’s a great guy to be a teammate with.”
Sellers now also has his sights set on earning a first grandfather clock that is bestowed upon the winner of the prestigious race at Martinsville. To do so, he’s taken a different strategy in recent weeks to hone in on a winning setup.
“The last month, we’ve run four different cars. They’re all customer cars,” said Sellers. “I’m just trying to search for that extra little speed right now. Matt has really been honed in on his one little car and it’s showing. The wins are showing. I’ve been searching hard to find that one little bit of magic.
“Lee Pulliam’s been beating our butt every week. I’ve been searching different cars and trying to race. If we honed in on one car, I think it’d be better, but we’re looking.”
But before going to Martinsville for the October 5 event, Sellers has one other goal left on his 2014 checklist – the Motor Mile (VA) track championship. He enters next Saturday’s twin 75-lap feature finale at the Radford, Virginia track four points behind Lee Pulliam.
“We’ve still got Motor Mile next week,” said Sellers. “We’ve got a good shot at the championship up there. We’ve got to cross our T’s and dot our I’s and have a little bit of luck over there. But still, this is a great way to wrap up our year here at South Boston.”
Click here to replay the Speed51.com-powered NASCAR Home Tracks Race Central Live coverage 0f Saturday’s NWAAS Late Model features at South Boston.
– By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Director – Twitter @MattKentfield. Photo credits: Brenda Meserve/Speed51.com