Loftin wins as SMART Tour returns to South Boston Speedway
Published 6:40 pm Sunday, April 2, 2023
Brian Loftin sped past defending series champion Caleb Heady with 31 laps to go and held off Tom Buzze by 1.3 seconds to win Saturday night’s Flying VA Classic 99-lap race for the SMART Modified Tour powered by Pace-O-Matic at South Boston Speedway.
The race was the feature event of the URW Credit Union Fools Rush 262 racing program.
“Every win at my age is a big win,” said Loftin, 50, a two-time winner last season. “Every year you start out on zero, and you have to start getting some wins. To get a win this early in the season, especially with the way we struggled the first two races of the season is big. We had a good car both races, but it just didn’t pan out.”
On this night, it did.
Track position proved to be key in Loftin’s win.
“I knew we had a really good racecar,” the Lexington, North Carolina resident pointed out. “We just didn’t qualify very well. I knew my car was really good if I could get out front. I knew it was going to be tough to pass, and we had a car that could win the race.”
Loftin started 16th in the 27-car field, pitted for a fresh right rear tire on lap 30 during the event’s stage break, and began his climb to the front. It took only four laps after the pit stop for Loftin to work his way into the top five. By lap 54, he was up to third place, and at lap 65 he was up to second place.
He surged in front of Heady on lap 69 right after a restart following a caution period and never relinquished the lead.
Buzze, from Statesville, North Carolina, worked his way up to second place with nine laps to go, but was unable to run down Loftin at the end.
“I had a great car,” Buzze remarked. “I messed up in the race and got into the fence and had to pit early. My guys got the car fixed and we came back. To run second is almost like a win. It’s pretty special.”
More finishes from South Boston Speedway
Burt Myers of Walnut Cove, North Carolina finished third, about a tenth of a second behind Buzze, with Jonathan Cash of Oxford, North Carolina finishing fourth and Joey Coulter of Mooresville, North Carolina rounding out the top five finishers.
Brandon Ward of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Michael Ritch of High Point, North Carolina, Jeremy Gerstner of Wesley Chapel, Florida, Tim Brown of King, North Carolina and Jason Myers of Walnut Cove, North Carolina rounded out the top 10 finishers.
There were five lead changes among six drivers with Loftin leading the final 31 circuits. Gerstner led 29 laps. Heady led 24 laps, Ward led the first eight laps of the race, Cash led four laps, and Myers led three laps.
The race was slowed by six caution periods.
Saturday night’s Flying VA Classic was a tribute to the late Ray Hendrick who is recognized as a legend in Modified racing. Hendrick won hundreds of Modified races during his illustrious career that included five South Boston Speedway NASCAR track championships.
His son, Roy Hendrick, South Boston Speedway’s first NASCAR Late Model Stock car Division track champion, drove his late father’s racecar during pre-race parade laps and joined with Loftin in victory lap after the race. He also presented Loftin a small-scale replica of his late father’s racecar in Victory Lane.
Sellers, Langley split wins at South Boston Speedway
Peyton Sellers of Danville drove to his first win of the season at South Boston Speedway, topping the field in the first of Saturday night’s two 71-lap races for the Sentara Healthcare Late Model Stock Car Division that were part of the URW Credit Union Fools Rush 262 racing program at South Boston Speedway.
Carter Langley of Zebulon, North Carolina won the second 71-lap race to score his third win of the season at the .4-mile oval. Langley swept both races of the track’s season-opening twinbill on March 18.
Sellers started on the pole and led the entire distance in the first race, edging Mike Looney of Catawba, Virginia by 1.796 seconds in the race that was slowed by only one caution period. Langley finished third after starting mid-field (ninth) under South Boston Speedway’s handicapping rule. Jacob Borst of Elon, North Carolina and Mark Wertz of Chesapeake, Virginia rounded out the top five finishers.
In the second race, with the top eight finishers of the first race inverted for the start, Langley charged from his sixth starting position to overtake race leader Craig Moore of Rougemont, North Carolina with 13 laps to go. Once in front, Langley held off Sellers who grabbed second place from Moore with a dozen laps to go. Langley’s margin of victory was 1.74 seconds.
Moore finished third, Borst finished fourth and Doug Barnes Jr., making his first South Boston Speedway appearance, rounded out the top five finishers.
“It was a good night for us,” noted Sellers who had a win and a runner-up finish for the night. “Anytime you have Mike Looney on your bumper you had better give it all you’ve got every lap. I just kept the car nice and straight, and we had enough there at the end.
“We came up a little short in the second race,” he added. “Maybe I used up a little too much tire in the first race. It was a very solid night.”
Langley, who now has won three of the first four races of the season at South Boston Speedway, was pleased with his effort.
“We worked our way up to third in the first race,” Langley noted. “The car felt pretty good. It wasn’t quite where I wanted it, and we made a few changes between races. Craig (Moore) didn’t make it easy to pass (in the second race). Craig always puts up a good fight. I finally got by him, and I had enough to hold off Peyton. Hopefully we can keep this momentum going and nothing happens to the car.”
Davis picks up win in Hornets Division
Dillon Davis of Nathalie started on the outside pole, jumped into the lead on the opening lap and led the full distance to win the 21-lap race for the Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division that was part of Saturday night’s URW Credit Union Fools Rush 262 racing program at South Boston Speedway.
Davis sped across the finish line 1.282 seconds ahead of Steven Layne of Halifax, Virginia in taking his first win of the season. He won two races last season and finished third in last year’s division point standings.
Landon Milam of Keeling, Virginia finished third, 3.3 seconds behind Davis, with Kendall Milam of Keeling, Virginia and Jarrett Milam of Keeling, Virginia rounding out the top five finishers.
Next event at South Boston Speedway
NASCAR racing returns to South Boston Speedway on Saturday night, April 22 with the Viny’s Italian Restaurant Race Night event.
A 100-lap race for the Sentara Healthcare Late Model Stock Car Division competitors will headline the six-race program that will also include a 50-lap race for the Budweiser Limited Sportsman Division, a 25-lap race for the Southside Disposal Pure Stock Division and a 20-lap race for the Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division.
Along with races for South Boston Speedway’s four NASCAR racing divisions fans will see a 25-lap race for the competitors in the East Coast Flathead Ford Racing Association and a 20-lap race for Champ Karts.
Grandstand gates will open at 5:30 p.m., qualifying starts at 6 p.m. and the first race of the night will get the green flag at 7 p.m.
Advance adult general admission tickets are priced at $12 each and may be purchased online on South Boston Speedway’s website or by calling the speedway office at 434-572-4947 or toll free at 1-877-440-1540 during regular business hours.
Tickets at the gate on race day will be $15 each. Seniors ages 65 and older, military, healthcare workers, and students (with ID) can purchase tickets for $12 each at the gate on race day.
The latest news and updates for fans and competitors can be found on the speedway’s website and the track’s social media channels. Information may also be obtained by phoning the speedway at 434-572-4947 or toll free at 1-877-440-1540 during regular business hours.