The 2018 edition of the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown featured an incredible battle between many of the top Late Model competitors along the east coast in the Thunder Road-Harley Davidson 200 at South Boston Speedway. Veteran Peyton Sellers was forced to overcome a flat tire and managed to hold off a challenge from four-time Whelen All-American Series champion Philip Morris to pick up the victory and get a head start on his quest for a third title.
While Sellers celebrated in victory lane, many drivers were forced to repair their cars after an accident on the first lap triggered from contact between Matt Bowling and Bruce Anderson wiped out many contenders for the victory. Among the drivers involved in the lap 1 accident was Mebane, North Carolina native Thomas Scott, who was unable to get his car stopped before making contact with another vehicle, which forced him to settle for a 17th place finish.
Scott was disappointed with how his race turned out, as he hoped to close the gap on Morris, who currently leads South Boston’s Late Model points standings, and open his first full season in the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown on a positive note. Despite the setback, Scott and his team plan to regroup and make the trip up to Hampton, Virginia for the Hampton Heat 200 at Langley Speedway.
“I had really high hopes, but we just didn’t have the race we wanted,” Scott said. “I feel like I easily could have run inside the Top 5 that night, but we qualified a little bit farther back than I wanted to. I thought we were going to be fine, as we were starting near a whole bunch of good drivers, but they couldn’t get through the first lap, and I couldn’t avoid it. It was pretty miserable riding around that whole race and end up 17th just to gain points on the guy that I passed with two laps to go.”
Scott’s career in auto-racing began at a very young age, when he helped work on the cars raced by his father Jerry Scott, who won multiple track championships at Ace Speedway over the course of his career. After gradually gaining experience on both dirt bikes and go-karts, Scott began making select appearances in his father’s equipment before becoming a full-time competitor at the track in 2010.
Although Scott considers Ace his home track, he admitted that he often struggled to find success at the facility, as his best finish in the track’s championship standings was ninth, which came during the 2011 ASA Member Track National Championship season. Scott moved his Late Model program over to South Boston at the start of the 2013 season, where he has managed to find more on-track success, as he currently sits third in the track’s Late Model standings with eight Top 5 finishes.
Scott has been impressed with his team’s performance throughout the season, which he credits to the technical support provided by H.C. Sellers, who is the brother of Peyton Sellers, and has assisted many Late Model competitors over the years, including Lee Pulliam, Matt Bowling and Hermie Sadler. Scott has been thankful for all of the assistance that Sellers has given to his family-owned team, and hopes to pick up his first Late Model victory at South Boston in the near future.
Although Scott wanted to pick up that elusive victory in the Thunder Road-Harley Davidson 200, he will now have to adapt to a track that he has never competed at in his entire career when he and his team compete at Langley Speedway on Saturday evening. With the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown being scored by average finish as opposed to points, Scott knows that a Top 10 finish is imperative to staying in contention for the title, and plans to be conservative early on in order to have an opportunity at the win.
“The biggest thing with Langley is going to be tire management,” Scott said. “I know there were some big issues earlier in the year with tires getting changed late in the race, but it’s going to be important to stay patient, to not get tore up, and to just save your tires in order to have something at the end to go hard with. I don’t know if I’ll have that raw speed, but I’ll definitely work on getting my car to handle good and stay under me the whole race.”
The poor showing at South Boston put Scott and his team behind going into the weekend, but he remains confident that he can fight his way back into the championship battle with very little margin of error for he and his competitors over the next two races. A championship for Scott in the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown would put him in elite company alongside Sellers, Pulliam, CE Falk and Timothy Peters, as well as provide him with the support that he needs to continue improving his Late Model operation.
“It would me an unbelievable amount to us,” Scott said. “Obviously the money would mean the most to me, as we race off of pennies compared to these other guys. I’ve spent nearly every dime I have working on my cars, and we’re doing good, but it’s also a struggle and a sacrifice for us. We do most of the work ourselves, so the money would do a lot to help us pay off a few things we’ve done to improve the cars, and hopefully we can make it happen. It would be a dream come true.”
The green flag for the Hampton Heat 200 at Langley Speedway is expected to fly at approximately 9:00 p.m. on Saturday evening, with many of the top finishers from South Boston, including Sellers, Morris, Hughes and McCarty, all expected to file entries for the event. Joining the contenders for the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown will be many track regulars at Langley, including Danny Edwards Jr., who started on pole for the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown and currently leads the track’s Late Model point standings.
Photo Credit: RACE22.com/Jaden Austin