Bulletin Staff Report
The Virginia Triple Crown competition is two third of the way through, and late model driver Peyton Sellers is once again atop the leaderboard as he chases not only the $7,000 check, but also a repeat title.
Sellers won the first leg of the triple crown race, coming away victorious in the Thunder Road Harley Davidson 200 at South Boston Speedway on June 29. Even though the best he could do was a fourth place finish at Langley Speedway’s Hampton Heat Saturday night in the second leg, his top-5 finish was enough to keep him ahead of fellow South Boston driver, and fellow former NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion, Lee Pulliam.
Sellers has an average finish of 2.5 in both triple crown races. Pulliam has a second and sixth place finish, for an average of fourth. Timothy Peters, a Danville native driving for Henry County’s Nelson Motorsports, is third with an average finish of 7.5, and Mike Looney, driving for Stuart’s Billy Martin Racing, is fourth with an average finish of 8th.
Saturday’s winner at Langley Speedway, Connor Hall, is not eligible for the Triple Crown because he did not run at South Boston, and has no plans to run the third race at Martinsville Speedway in October.
The Virginia Late Model Triple Crown is a bonus that rewards the three drivers who have the best average finish in the Thunder Road Harley Davidson 200 at South Boston, the Hampton Heat at Langley Speedway, and the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway. The triple crown will commence with the third and final leg on on October 5 with the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway.
The triple crown pays $7,000 to the winner, $2,000 for second, and $1,000 for third.
Peters, a veteran in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, has been the lead driver for Nelson Motorsports since its inception.
While he’s been making rare appearances back in the late model this season, he is driving for the triple crown title, and said he’s hopeful that a come-from-behind win is in the works for his team.
“We were kind of in this position two years ago and came back and won the triple crown, so we know what we have to do,” Peters told reporters at Langley Saturday night following his eighth place finish. “I like the fact that it pays the top three. It gives each driver and team a little extra incentive knowing there’s a little bit of extra cash. If you work hard, it gives you a little bit more incentive.”
Peters won the VSCU300 at Martinsville Speedway in 2017, as well as the triple crown that season, despite going into the final race in ninth place, with 11th and seventh place finishes before that. He edged Sellers in the Triple Crown by .3 in final standings after his Martinsville win.
“You’ve got to have a good car, but you’ve got to be patient to be there at the end (of the race at Martinsville),” Peters said. “You aren’t going to win the race or place in the triple crown on the first lap. We were in that position last year, being out of it after the first lap. You’ve got to be patient. You talk about attrition, it’s going to be wild at the end with that much money out there, but you have to be in position to be there.”
Keeping the hopeWith three finishers set to take home money in the triple crown, rather than in years past where only the top driver was rewarded a check, drivers are keeping the faith that even if they’re not atop the leaderboard, and haven’t had the best luck so far, there’s still a chance they leave Martinsville with something.
“We’re going to have a gap to make up, but we definitely aren’t out,” said driver Brandon Pierce, who finished sixth at South Boston and 20th at Langley after a motor issue. His average finish of 13 puts him 10th out of the 13 eligible drivers.
“Half the battle is survival and all of the changes to the race will make it so the field is really strong and you are going to end up with the 40 best cars. Knowing the top-3 Triple Crown positions pay, if you’re in position to win, that’s in your head. We are going to go in to Martinsville with nothing to lose and everything to gain and we are going to go in and try to win it. We’re going to need some help to win the Triple Crown, but we are definitely in position to place and hopefully we can also get a grandfather clock.”
NWAAS pointsWhile Sellers is chasing a triple crown win, with seven wins in 20 stars this season he’s also chasing something even bigger. The Danville driver, and South Boston regular, currently leads the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship points standings with 510 points, a 22-point lead over fellow Virginian Philip Morris.
Sellers has finished in the top 10 in 19 of the 20 races he’s run this season, driving at South Boston, Langley, Myrtle Beach Speedway and Southern National Motorsports Park in North Carolina.
Looney, a track regular at Motor Mile Speedway, is currently third in national standings, with 434 points. Looney has also built a sizable lead at Motor Mile in Radford. He has seven wins, and 14 top five finishes across 18 races at three tracks this season.
Cara Cooper is the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach her at (276)638-8801 ext. 241.