Peyton Sellers and Austin Thaxton scored victories in South Boston Speedway's (VA) twin-75 Late Model Stock features Saturday night, but it was an incident involving the two drivers and Bobby McCarty in teh closing laps of the first race that set the stage for the evening.
McCarty started on the pole for the first Late Model Stock feature at the 0.400-mile oval, leading every lap until a last-lap incident with Sellers dashed his shot at the win and turned the victory over to Sellers.
“Honestly, he had the best car tonight,” Sellers told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “He led the most laps. That’s what restarts are for, though. I let my tires cool a lot, got a good run on him. I kept him worked up a little, trying to keep him from getting that good run off the corner.”
The incident occurred on the frontstretch, as McCarty and Sellers were side-by-side battling for the win. The two cars made contact, turning McCarty into the inside pit wall. McCarty also collected Austin Thaxton in the incident.
“Once he watches the film, I think he’ll see what happened,” Sellers said about the incident. “I think he just got a little loose coming off the corner and got into me. It was racing, but I know he’s upset because he lost a race and got a car tore up. I do feel bad for him in that instance.”
While McCarty expressed frustration at the time of the incident, he was calm in discussing his evening after the night’s racing concluded.
"I've just got to thank my guys," McCarty said. "We had a very, very fast car. I just want to thank them, Autos by Nelson, Timothy [Peters], everyone who works on this car. I hate we didn't get the finish we should have got. We'll get it back together and see what we can do."
Thaxton chalked up the incident to two drivers battling hard for a victory – perhaps too hard considering another 75-lap feature awaited them.
“The 22 [of McCarty] and the 26 [of Sellers] were racing real hard,” Thaxton said. “It just looked like the 26 got into him. I know both of them race really hard every week. Both of them wanted to win. I really think they just forgot we have another race tonight. It looked like hard racing, but somebody’s got to give at some point.”
Thaxton rebounded from the incident, starting on the front row after an eight-car invert for the second twin. From there, Thaxton checked out on the field to dominate the final race of the night.
“We should have come home with third and a win,” Thaxton said. “We worked on the car from the time we rolled in the pits until the time we rolled back out. They were on the race track and I was still putting parts in. We got it back together and showed them we are going to be a contender this year.”
Thaxton noted that, considering recent racing at South Boston, bringing the car back in one piece was nearly as exciting as the victory.
“At this point, it means we can put a race car back together,” Thaxton said about surviving the night, especially with a win. “We can go to work and see if we can’t make it faster. We destroyed it a couple of weeks ago, came back, and run better. Now we can go to work and hopefully make it that much better.”
Sellers finished third in the second race, but not without some adventure first. The invert placed him eighth in the grid, and a spin after contact with McCarty relegated him to the rear of the field. However, Sellers fought through the pack to take the final step on the podium.
“Fortunately, we had a good car, and that makes a difference,” Sellers said about the second race. “H.C., my brother, they work hard on it. We made the right adjustments, kept the nose clean, and the guys raced me clean coming back up.”
“Everybody pretty much races with respect around here,” Sellers added. “Bobby and me typically race with respect. I know he’s upset tonight, but we’ll be here all year and we’ll have to work our differences out. Everybody’s got to be here the next week.”
McCarty finished 11th in the second feature, parking his car after 41 laps with overheating issues.
"We fired off really good,” McCarty said about the second race. “The car just started to get a little hot. I didn't want to risk hurting the motor when the car was already in a bad spot."
Amidst the chaos and commotion, Jeb Burton put together a strong evening in his return to South Boston Speedway. The son of 2002 Daytona 500 winner and local hero Ward Burton scored a pair of runner-up finishes.
“Me and H.C. Sellers ran this car together as a developmental program for someone else,” Burton said. “It wasn’t bad for just showing up. The car hadn’t been here, I hadn’t been here, the team hadn’t been here.”
“I wish I could run more,” Burton continued. “I wish I could run the [July 1] race, but I just don’t have the funding to do it. It was a good showing. The car was just a little too tight to win.”
The July 1 race is one of the marquee events on the South Boston Speedway schedule, a 200-lap Late Model Stock feature to celebrate Independence Day weekend. The evening’s racing will also feature a 100-lap Limited Sportsman feature, as well as racing for the Pure Stock and Hornets divisions.
Race fans can find on-demand Trackside Now coverage from Saturday's race by clicking here.
-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com