Like the difference between night and day. That’s what drivers are saying about South Boston Speedway’s new racing surface heading into Saturday’s night race … the first race under the lights this season.
The new surface debuted two weeks ago as an unknown to the teams and wound up producing record speeds and classic close racing. Drivers say questions abound headed into Saturdaynight’s Virginia State University Twin 75s presented by the Kappa League of Petersburg.
“I feel like there is going to be a big difference,” Bobby McCarty said of his expectations for Saturday night. “The track seems to be weather sensitive so I feel like it might be a little slick when the temperature drops. I’m also curious to see how it reacts to taking the rubber without the sun baking it.”
It will be the first time teams and fans alike have been under the track’s upgraded lighting system, part of the track’s $1 million capital improvement program.
When the season opened two weeks ago, track qualifying records fell in every division. Philip Morris, who wound up sweeping both ends of the Late Model Stock doubleheader, blew away the old track record with a time of 14.731 seconds around the .4 oval. The old track record was 15.314 seconds. His speed was 100.197 mph, the first time the 100-mph barrier had been broken in a Late Model. Half of the Late Model field broke the old mark in qualifying.
And even though drivers expect the track to be much different Saturday night under the lights, it doesn’t mean they believe speeds will drop.
“Honestly, I think the second groove should take rubber better at night,” said veteran driver Peyton Sellers, who finished 11th in the first 100-lapper in the season-opener but bounced back for a fourth in the second. “I think the track should be faster than the first race which is always good for the fans.”
Austin Thaxton, who had a pair of top-10 finishes in the opener, expecst to see a change in the track Saturday.
“I think it’s going to be a lot different at night,” said Thaxton. “Hopefully it will go in our favor.”
Regardless of track changes with the season’s first night race, McCarty is excited to be racing on new pavement this season.
“I’d like to say: ‘good job’ to everyone who had a hand in the repaving,” said McCarty, who had a third and a 10th on opening day and challenged for the win in the first 100-lapper. “The second groove really came in good as the day went on and it turned into some great side-by-side battles.”
South Boston Speedway will turn on the lights for the first time this season Saturday night for the Virginia State University Twin 75s presented by the Kappa League of Petersburg.
There will be twin 75-lap races for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car Division, a 50-lap Limited Sportsman race, a 30-lap Budweiser Pure Stock race and a 15-lap Budweiser Hornets race.
Registration and pit gates open at 2:30 p.m. with practice from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Grandstand gates open at 5:30 p.m., qualifying is set for 6 p.m. and the green flag flies at 7 p.m.
Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for youth ages 7-12. Kids ages six and under are admitted free with a paid adult.