‘Practice makes perfect: Jordaine Penick eyes chance at Victory Lane

Published 8:00 am Monday, March 18, 2024

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She’s taking aim this year at the checkered flag. Sixteen-year-old Jordaine Penick, a sophomore at Randolph-Henry High, has already done a lot in the racing world. Over the last two seasons, while racing in the HEAT Hornets Division at South Boston Speedway, she’s logged one Top-5 finish, put up 16 Top-10 finishes and recorded her highest career finish, placing fifth last June. But fifth isn’t good enough for the teenager, who has her eyes set on a higher prize. 

“I felt like last year was a success for me,” Penick pointed out. “I think I can be a lot better than I was last year. This year I hope to get a win with my new car. People say practice makes perfect so the more practice I can get the better I’ll be.”

Penick finished sixth in the point standings last season. Now with a new car on the track this year, she’s looking to pick up a win or two along the way. 

“Last year I was happy to finish races,” Penick said. “This year I want to be a lot better.” 

And she’s looking ahead to longterm goals as well. Jordaine Penick says she would like to move up to compete in a higher division at some point in the future.

“I don’t know when I’ll move up, but I plan to move up,” Penick said.

“I’d like to go big one day, but I like where I am now. I like spending time with my family, becoming friends with the other drivers out here, and just having fun.”

Plenty of competition

Joining Jordaine Penick in that challenge this season will be her teammate and family member, 15-year-old Max Sangillo. 

The Farmville resident is entering just his second season of competing in the division. Sangillo finished 12th in points last year, with a trio of Top-10 finishes in 10 starts. He hopes a different car will help him climb the points ladder. 

“I’m a lot more confident going into this season,” Sangillo noted. “Last year was my first year in racing and I was driving a slow car, so this year is going to be a lot more exciting.” 

Jordaine Penick and Sangillo will have a lot of competition to take that Hornets title. A group of returning drivers and some newcomers are expected to create one of the most competitive seasons in the division’s history. 

Kendall Milam of Keeling, the 2023 season champion, is moving up to compete in the Southside Disposal Pure Stock Division, opening the door for a new champion to emerge in what will be the 11th season of competition for the Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division at South Boston Speedway. 

His brother, Landon Milam will be among the drivers that are expected to contend for the division championship in 2024. 

Landon Milam finished third in the title chase last season, finishing 11 points behind his older brother. He logged six Top-5 finishes last season that included one second-place finish and four third place finishes. 

“The plan right now is to run for the championship,” Landon remarked. “With Kendall moving up, it gives us a lot more time to focus on one Hornet car instead of two. We’ve got to also focus on the Pure Stock for him to race in his rookie season and compete for Rookie of the Year. 

A Ringgold return

Another top contender last season that is returning to compete for the division championship is Cameron Goble of Ringgold. Goble was among the top contenders last season but was plagued with mechanical issues with his car. 

Nevertheless, Goble finished eighth in the final point standings and had a division-high three wins and a division-high five poles. 

“I’m excited to get going,” Goble said. “I hope to have a better season this year. We know what we’re doing this time. We’re going to have fun. We were plagued with issues all of last season. We’ve spent a lot of time on the car during the off-season going through everything. We’ve had to tear the cars completely down. We’re ready to go.” 

The Penick family’s racing umbrella also includes Chris Penick of Rustburg. Chris Penick raced a partial schedule last season and logged four Top-10 finishes in seven starts with a best finish of seventh. 

This season Penick is looking to chase the division championship, and he is excited to get the season underway. 

“We’ve been waiting all of the off-season for it,” Penick said. “We’ve done our research during the off-season. We’re definitely going to bring a better “A Game” this year as compared to how we were last year. Last year was my rookie year, my learning year, so this year we’re going out there looking to contend for the points championship.” 

When does season start for Jordaine Penick?

South Boston Speedway will kick off its 2024 season on Saturday afternoon, March 23, with the first of four special events that have been scheduled for the season – the URW Community Federal Credit Union Race Day event.

Fans will also see a 100-lap race for the Sentara Health Late Model Stock Car Division, and the track’s Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division will be featured in a 20-lap race. 

The March 23 event schedule has practice running from 8:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. Qualifying begins at 11:45 a.m., a SMART Tour driver autograph session is set for 1:15 p.m., a last chance qualifying race for the modifieds is set for 2:10 p.m. and the first race of the day is set to get the green flag at 3 p.m. 

Tickets 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.