MARTINSVILLE, Va. – For the first time in two years, the nation’s best NASCAR late model stock car competitors return to Martinsville Speedway for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 this Friday and Saturday.
The stars will all be out to compete in the nation’s biggest, richest and most prestigious NASCAR late model stock car race after last year’s race was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Josh Berry is the most recent winner of the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, having dominated the last running of the race in 2019.
This year’s race will have a $110,000 purse with $32,000 to the race winner as well as the traditional Martinsville grandfather clock. The 200-lap feature race will include three segments: 75 laps, 75 laps and 50 laps. Stage one and Stage two winners will each receive $1,000.
Perhaps no one is looking forward to the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 more than Peyton Sellers – who’s still chasing his first win in the prestigious race and fourth Virginia Triple Crown title at Martinsville Speedway. The Danville, Va., native is no stranger to the late model race at Martinsville as he has competed in the race 12 times since 2002. As a racer, Sellers has accomplished just about everything you can do except win the race. The veteran short-track racer hopes this year will be different.
“I’ve had the opportunity to lead the most laps. I’ve led at halfway. I’ve sat on the pole. I’ve led the white-flag lap, but I’ve never led that checkered-flap lap,” said Sellers. “That being said, I’m not going to count anything until it happens. If I take that white-flag (next Saturday) I’m never going to take a deep breath until I take the checkered.”
On Friday, four hours of practice will be followed by single car qualifying under the lights. The top two cars from qualifying will make the 200-lap feature with the pole winner receiving a $5,000 bonus. To determine the rest of the 40-car field for the feature, the remaining cars will be placed in heat races on Saturday, Sept. 25. There will be four heat races of 25 laps and no last chance race.
With this year’s format, Sellers feels the limited practice prior to qualifying can benefit him and other experienced drivers.
“This year we’re not going to have a test day which is going to make it very hard for a young driver trying to make a name for (themselves) at Martinsville,” Sellers added. “I feel like that will play a little more to the veterans, the guys who have been there multiple times and know the track and what it’ll do at night.”
Sellers, who has a career-best finish of third during the Martinsville late model race, hopes to cross it off his bucket list this weekend. However, he is also hoping to lay claim to the Virginia Triple Crown this year.
“They’re starting to build a little bit of nostalgia to it, similar to the grandfather clock at Martinsville (Speedway),” said Sellers. “With the amount of competition that’s around the Virginia area and the amount of people who have come out of Virginia to be legends in racing, to be able to compete for something in my home state is something that I get excited about every year.”
The Virginia Triple Crown is awarded to the driver who has the best average finish in three races starting with the Thunder Road Harley-Davidson Late Model 200 at South Boston Speedway and the Hampton Heat 200 at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway in July and ends next weekend at Martinsville Speedway in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300.
In the first two races of the Triple Crown, Bobby McCarty won the first leg at South Boston and Berry won the second leg at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway. Sellers and McCarty are tied with an average finish of 4.5 after the first two races. Kayden Honeycutt sits third with an average finish of fifth. The top-three average finishers will split a prize pool of $10,000 with $7,000 going to the winner.
“It’s hard to put yourself in position to win because you have to put yourself in position at three different tracks,” said Sellers. “They’re all 200 lap races but they’re all entirely different. The way the formats are, the way the tracks are, you’ve really got to save a lot of tire at a place like Langley, but at Martinsville you can just go hard because you’re getting tires late. They’ve done a good job promoting it with the three tracks.”