Even as much of the Northeast is buried under snow, the racing season is in full swing in the south. Many tracks have started their weekly racing program, and now multiple touring series have kicked off their 2017 campaigns as well. With that in mind, now is a perfect time to take a look at what’s happening in the Southeast with 51’s Southeast Beat.
Oranges are Blossoming for PASS
The Super Late Models of the Pro All-Stars Series are headed to North Carolina’s Orange County Speedway for the Orange Blossom Special on Saturday, March 25. They’ll be joined by the Southern Modified Racing Series. A strong car count of PASS regulars from the north and south are expected, as well as Super Late Model standouts such as Indiana’s Dalton Armstrong.
The Orange Blossom Special will air live on Speed51 TV. Race fans can purchase the event by clicking here.
Pulliam Already in Championship Form
Lee Pulliam came up a little short in 2016 in his bid for a fourth NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship. But so far in 2017 he’s already showing that the road to the title will go through him. Pulliam has two wins at South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach Speedway, and finished fourth at Caraway Speedway (NC) this past weekend as well.
Keep in mind that many of the tracks that Pulliam regularly frequents, such as South Boston Speedway, Motor Mile and Southern National have yet to start their weekly programs, but when they do you can expect Pulliam’s win total to keep climbing.
Young Guns Starting to Shine
These days it appears that drivers are getting younger and younger. Not only are they racing, but now they’re winning too. Already this season we’ve seen two future stars pick up victories.
Ty Gibbs, the grandson of Joe Gibbs, scored his first victory in a Limited Late Model one month ago. This past weekend, Carson Kvapil, the son of former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil, picked up his first victory in a Limited Late Model as well.
Coincidentally, both wins came at Greenville Pickens Speedway (SC).
(Editor’s Note: Official results from the Southeast Limited Late Model Series show that Kvapil was disqualified from his victory. A reason was not stated in the results)
Modified Madness in the South
We have now seen three Modified races in the Southeast, and two of those races took place this past weekend. Both of those races can be summed up in the same way: Crazy.
The Southern Modified Racing Series opened its season at Caraway Speedway (NC) on Sunday and saw Jason Myers and Bobby Measmer Jr. tangle as they fought for the lead in the closing stages. Measmer said the incident was not intentional, and Myers basically said he didn’t care about what Measmer said. The next race for the SMRS is this Saturday at Orange County Speedway, so it will be interesting to see what happens between Myers and Measmer moving forward.
The newly unified NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour took a trip to the Beach on Saturday. The series ran its first race at Myrtle Beach Speedway and had its own bit of madness at the end of that one. Two big wrecks in the final 10 laps led to a green-white-checkered finish, a win by Timmy Solomito, and a bunch of wrecked race cars.
The next race for the NWMT is at the Icebreaker at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) in April, but the series will be back south of the Mason-Dixon Line on May 13 for a trip to Virginia’s Langley Speedway.
Majeski Sinks Fangs into the Competition at the Rattler
Since January, all anyone has been talking about has been Harrison Burton when it comes to Super Late Model racing, and for good reason. Burton won CRA SpeedFest in Georgia in January, he won the SLM championship at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing in February, and he went to Concord Speedway (NC) and won there in the season opener for the CARS Tour in March. He was the clear-cut favorite heading into the Rattler at South Alabama Speedway on Sunday as well.
But another driver made sure we didn’t forget his name. Ty Majeski silenced all of the Burton talk, at least for the time being, by winning the Rattler for the second-straight year. Majeski led the final 19 laps to pick up his second straight rattlesnake trophy.
Choquette Tries to Channel His Fury
Jeff Choquette and his Jett Motorsports team debuted a new Fury Race Car chassis at New Smyrna Speedway on the final night of Speedweeks last month. Choquette went out and dominated the 100-lap feature, at times leading by half a straightaway over Burton and Majeski.
Choquette brought that same race car up to South Alabama Speedway for the Rattler and almost put on the same performance. Choquette led the first 211 laps of the 250-lap feature, which is the second most laps led by anybody in the history of the event, before settling for fourth at the end of the day.
CARS Tour is Back in Action
The CARS Racing Tour is back in action this weekend at Virginia’s Dominion Raceway after a week off, and this event will be a little bit different than CARS Tour events seen in the past. Both divisions will be running twin 75-lap features on Saturday at the one-year-old facility.
As if that wasn’t already enough of a twist, the Super Late Model drivers will be feeling extra pressure as the “Duels at Dominion” will serve as a lock-in event for the inaugural U.S. Short Track Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) in May. The driver with the best average finish from the two races will receive the automatic qualifying spot for the race at Bristol.
The new live pit stops will not be in effect at Dominion this weekend, nor will group qualifying be used. Both divisions will use single-car time trials to set the field on Saturday at Dominion.
Harrison Burton (SLM) and Josh Berry (LMSC) won in the season-opening event at Concord Speedway last week.
Mother Nature the Big Winner
Many local tracks in the region have had their season openers decided in the sky instead of on the race track. Mother Nature has played a big role early in the year as tracks try to kick off their weekly racing programs.
Caraway Speedway’s opener was originally scheduled for March 12, but a snowstorm (yes, that is correct) forced track officials to postpone the event until this past Sunday, the 19th.
Southern National Motorsports Park (NC) had planned to run its first weekly race of the season this past Saturday, but a forecast calling for potential rain and frigid temperatures led officials to hold off one week.
Caraway and SNMP were not the only tracks to postpone either as many decided to not brave the cold and potential rain.
The good news is the temperatures in the area should be increasing in the coming days with Spring right around the corner.
More Tracks Kicks Off Their Seasons This Weekend
A number of race tracks will officially kick off their 2017 seasons this upcoming weekend.
South Boston Speedway (VA), Kingsport Speedway (TN) and Franklin County Speedway (VA) are among those that will see the green flag for the first time. Saturday’s racing at South Boston will be the first night of racing on the newly repaved surface and Franklin County is expecting one of their largest Late Model fields in recent history.
Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) will also be in action for the fourth week of their 2017 season.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com