Bulletin Staff Report
The best late model drivers hit Martinsville Speedway Thursday to practice for Saturday’s ValleyStar Credit Union 300.
As of Friday, the track said around 80 cars are expected at next week’s race that Speedway president Clay Campbell called “The Super Bowl of late model races.”
Mike Looney, driving for Stuart’s Billy Martin Racing, was the fastest car at Thursday’s test session, setting a new track record after turning a lap in 20.088 seconds during the later portions of the six hour test. The previous track record of 20.100 seconds was set by Stacy Puryear in qualifying last year.
“We played it too conservative the last couple of years,” Looney told reporters at the track after testing. “We were really trying to stick to our old setup that we won with and we thought maybe it was a fluke that the following year we weren’t that good at night. We come back last year and struggled again after the sun went down and we made our mind up last year when we left that we got to get our work gloves on and get busy.”
Looney, who won the VSCU300 in 2016, had said earlier in the day that the team has struggled the last two races to find what worked that year.
“We thrashed on that car today and we were good, but we knew it just didn’t have that feel I was looking for, that feel that I remember when we won,” he said. “I think we changed every spring. The right rear, sway bar, track bar, bump stops, shocks, we threw everything in the trailer at it. My buddy Forrest Reynolds was floating me some tips from down at Concord. He was home building chassis’ today and this is a new car he built us and we’ve got 11 wins on it.”
Looney finished second in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship race, and won the late model track championship at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford this year after winning 11 races this season.
Craig Moore, a regular on the CARS Tour, was second on the speed charts after Thursday’s test.
Peyton Sellers, a Danville native who won his third straight track championship at South Boston Speedway this season, was overall happy with his day Thursday. Sellers is the current leader for the Virginia Triple Crown.
“I didn’t know what to think earlier today,” Sellers said. “The track was really green the first hour or two hours. It had decent grip but it was like it was real hazy. This temperature right here is going to be more comparable to what we’re going to see next week. To go from 90 to 70 is a big transition. I think we learned more the last two hours than we’re going to learn the whole night. We made decent adjustments and I feel pretty comfortable with our program right now.”
Qualifying for Saturday’s VSCU300 will take place on Friday at 8 p.m. The first heat race at Martinsville Speedway will be Saturday at 3 p.m.,with the second immediately after. The feature race will begin at 7 p.m.