Murto: Regional tracks crown 2013 champs

By Craig Murto

Regional short tracks have crowned their 2013 track champions, and most notable among them is Lee Pulliam.

Pulliam not only won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track titles at paved facilities South Boston Speedway and Motor Mile Speedway near Radford, he also won the NASCAR Weekly Series national championship for the second consecutive season.

At South Boston, Pulliam was followed in points by Austin Thaxton, Bobby McCarty, Bruce Anderson and Ronald Hill. At Motor Mile he was chased all season by Peyton Sellers, Deac McCaskill, Martinsville winner Tommy Lemons Jr. and Josh Berry.

Other paved tracks in the region crowned Late Model champions. At Langley Speedway in Hampton, C.E. Falk claimed the title followed by Nick Smith, Matthew Waltz, former ASA National Tour competitor Greg Edwards and Casey Wyatt. At Southside Speedway near Richmond, Chris Dodson took the Late Model title followed by former Nationwide Series competitor Eddie Johnson, Steve Zuskin, Dusty Ellington and Lin O’Neill.

There was no Late Model track champion listed on the Shenandoah Speedway website, and a link to download Late Model points did not work.

The dirt tracks in the region saw some furious action throughout the 2013 season, and for Trevor Feathers it was rewarded by the Winchester Speedway track title. He was followed by J.T. Spence, Kyle Hardy, Jason Miller and Brad Omps. In other divisions at Winchester, Jonathan DeHaven won both the Crate and Limited Late Model divisions, Pure Stock went to David Kaiser, Four Cylinders was won by Ed Gageby, Enduro by Mark Vegh and Brenda Alexander triumphed in the UCAR division.

Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway’s Late Model track champion was Kenny Pettyjohn. Jason Covert was second, with Marvin Winters, D.J. Myers and Dan Stone rounding out the top five. J.T. Spence just missed a top-five finish, placing sixth.

Maryland’s Potomac Speedway track title went to longtime competitor David Williams. Chasing him to the end were Kenny Moreland, J.T. Spence, Dale Hollidge and Jamie Lathroum.

A little more than an hour down I-81 at Natural Bridge Speedway, J.R. Overstreet grabbed the championship followed by Ricky Wells, Tim Stalnaker, Ricky Almond and Bobby Thompson.

Websites for Eastside Speedway and Virginia Motor Speedway were either non-existent or not working when checked. It was especially surprising in the case of Virginia Motor Speedway, which thinks of itself as the Taj Mahal of dirt tracks on the East Coast.

There’s never been an “On Track Racer of the Year” named, but for regional competitors we must have two this season, one for pavement and one for dirt.

The winner on pavement has to be Lee Pulliam. Winning one national NASCAR Weekly Racing Series championship is quite a feat, winning two is remarkable. It’s especially incredible when you consider the depth of talent that race at South Boston and Motor Mile, including other former national champions such as Peyton Sellers and Philip Morris.

My racer of the year on the dirt side didn’t win a track championship, but proved to be competitive and dedicated enough to end up in the top three at Winchester and Potomac while finishing sixth at Hagerstown. Did anybody race as much locally on dirt with as consistent results as J.T. Spence?

An honorable mention has to go to pavement racer Dave Carter, who after about two decades of racing finally won his first ever feature victory in 2013. After years of trying at the now shuddered Old Dominion Speedway, Carter grabbed a win in a 100-lap race at Shenandoah, fending off numerous challenges along the way.

Carter, like many former Old Dominion regulars, may be back to Shenandoah in 2014. But in 2015 they should have the option of racing at the new Dominion Raceway in Thornburg, just off I-95’s exit 118.

Last weekend Dominion Raceway celebrated its official groundbreaking. The state-of-the-art facility will include a paved oval, a drag strip, and a road course. Besides being a multi-use motorsports facility, it is expected to host other events such as concerts, drive-in movies, flea markets and whatever else can make use of the property year-round.

The oval is expected to have NASCAR sanction. It’ll be interesting to see how many of the top NASCAR Late Model racers in the region choose to compete there, and whether we can have a regional or national champion crowned at a new track.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.