With SpeedFest now in the rearview mirror, the 2016 racing season in the Southeast is just starting to really heat up. In this week’s version of the Southeast Beat on Speed51.com powered by JEGS, we will catch you up on all the big stories in the region as things really get set to kick off.
Plenty of Surprises at SpeedFest
SpeedFest at Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, Georgia is always an entertaining show, and this year’s edition was no different. While the entertainment level on the race track was no shock, there were plenty of things throughout the event that surprised many in the stands and watching at home.
The Pro Late Model 125 portion of the day was won by none other than John Hunter Nemechek. No surprise there as he’d won the two previous Pro Late Model SpeedFest races heading into Sunday. But the man who put in a very surprising performance was Chris Dilbeck.
Dilbeck, respected in racing by many for his work with PFC Brakes, started on the pole position for the Pro Late Model 125, led a large chunk of the laps and took home a runner-up finish, a run that it seemed like only Dilbeck and Speed51.com owners Bob and Angie Dillner expected.
Harrison Burton also had a surprising SpeedFest weekend. He was fast in practice throughout much of the weekend, to no surprise, but he ended up starting mid-pack in the Last Chance Race after an off-track excursion in qualifying. A Last Chance Race isn’t exactly a place one expects to see the young North Carolina driver.
But with that kind of qualifying performance, not much was expected of Burton in the 200-lap main event. However, Burton ran a quiet race and stayed out of trouble, and was rewarded with a chance at the win on the final restart. Burton just missed out on the victory by half a car-length as he and Bubba Pollard came across the line side-by-side.
Capital Improvements at Crisp Motorsports Park
While we’re on the topic of SpeedFest and the 1/3-mile oval that is Crisp Motorsports Park, we’d be making a mistake if we didn’t discuss all of the improvements that Wayne Lyle, the new owner, and Scott Sumner are making at the South Georgia facility.
One year ago, Crisp Motorsports Park was just a race track in a small town. It had grandstands and passable restrooms, and that was about it.
The facility now has a new booth at the pit entrance and a beautiful new box office building behind the grandstands that also houses new restrooms as well. The dirt parking lot has been leveled and covered in gravel, making the drive into and out of the facility much easier.
And that’s just the start of all the improvements that are in the works. Lyle and Sumner are working hard to turn Crisp Motorsports Park into a great place to watch a race.
So race fans, make sure their work is recognized by supporting the facility in the future.
LFR Chassis Continues to Grow
Since LFR Chassis made its debut halfway through 2014, the company has quickly established itself as one of the top chassis manufacturers in short track racing. The Mooresville, North Carolina company has put the right people in place every step of the way, and they have continued to do that as recently as this week.
One of the biggest additions of late has to be the new partnership between LFR and veteran Late Model crew chief Ricky Turner. Turner is most known for his body of work as Chase Elliott’s Late Model crew chief. The duo won just about everything there is to win in Late Model racing, including the Snowball Derby and the Winchester 400.
Turner’s shop in Georgia will be what is essentially a satellite shop for LFR Chassis in that state, and Turner will primarily work with 13-year-old Jasper, Georgia native, Chandler Smith.
In addition to the new partnership with Turner, LFR Chassis just recently announced that they have acquired a 6,500 square-foot facility as they continue to expand their program.
LFR Chassis also just announced the hiring of five new crew members, all of whom have extensive backgrounds in racing at the short track level and at the highest levels of NASCAR.
With these moves, and the success LFR Chassis has had so quickly, there’s no reason to believe that LFR Chassis won’t remain at the top of the heap for many years to come.
Temperatures Heat up as PASS Readies for Winter Meltdown
Two weeks ago it snowed in the Carolinas. All the snow turned to ice and made the roads a mess. Then, in typical Carolina fashion, the temperature went back up, the snow and ice melted, and it already feels like Spring.
Even if it still felt like winter, the Pro All-Stars Series South was still going to be racing this weekend in the Carolinas as the series heads to Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina for the season-opening Winter Meltdown.
The Winter Meltdown will kick-off the 16-race slate for PASS South this Saturday, February 6, at 2 p.m. ET.
Southern Modified Racing Series Getting Ready for Easter Bunny Kick-Off
The South’s newest Tour-Type Modified series is just a couple of months away from its debut at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway, and with that means plenty of news surrounding the new Southern Modified Racing Series Presented by PASS.
Every race will pay out $3,000 to the winner and will be $500 to start, except for the inaugural race at Hickory, which will pay out $5,000 to the winner.
Licenses are now also available for purchase to drivers and teams. The Southern Modified Racing Series has given drivers extra incentive to purchase licenses as well as pre-enter for races. Drivers with licenses will receive bonus points for any race that they pre-enter for. They will also save money on entry fees.
Kyle Busch Motorsports Adds Gilliland and Byron to Late Model Roster
The Kyle Busch Motorsports team announced its Super Late Model driver roster at the end of last week. Christopher Bell is back with the team for another year, but William Byron and Todd Gilliland have joined the team as well.
Gilliland, the son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Gilliland, will make his KBM debut on February 28 in California at Kern County Raceway for the SRL Winter Showdown.
Both Bell and Byron will be running full NASCAR Camping World Truck Series campaigns in addition to their five Late Model races this year.
South Boston Announces Passing Points Procedure
Legendary South Boston Speedway in Virginia has announced plans to use a “Passing Points” system throughout the 2016 season in an effort to make the racing even more exciting by placing extra emphasis on passing.
Drivers will have the option to start deeper in the field if they so choose in an effort to pass more cars and gain more points. According to South Boston’s system, if a driver starts first and wins they will receive 36 points. But if a driver was to start the race from the fifth-position and win, then they will receive 40 points.
Three extra bonus points will be awarded to a driver that wins a race from positions one though nine, and five bonus points will be awarded to a driver who wins from any position deeper than tenth.
The passing points system will be in effect for all divisions at South Boston throughout the season and will only effect track championship points, not NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National points.
CARS Tour Media Day Set for March 9th
SRI Performance in Mooresville, North Carolina will host Media Day for the CARS Tour for the second straight year on March 9. The event will cover procedures, rules, and media obligations for the CARS Tour. The event will also serve as an introduction of the SRI Performance partnership with the series.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Heath Lawson/Speed51.com