Danville, Virginia native Blake Stallings once again found himself in victory lane at Ace Speedway on Friday evening after bumping fellow competitor Kyle Dudley out of the race lead going into Turn 1 with just over ten laps remaining in the 75-lap Late Model feature.
Stallings understood the controversy surrounding the circumstances of his victory, but summed up his battle with Dudley as good, hard racing, and believed that he would not get another opportunity at the win if he backed off in the corner. Although Stallings was forced to be aggressive in the final laps, he was proud to bring home another victory for his team.
“We raced the previous weekend at South Boston Speedway, and we didn’t exactly have the run we were looking for,” Stallings said. “However, the determination of my guys and all of the effort and pride they put into everything is what gave me the car that I needed to be in contention for the win.”
Stallings’ victory adds another chapter to his brief, but successful history at Ace Speedway, as the track was the site of his first career victory in Late Models back in 2014. Stallings’ crowning achievement at Ace came during the Rodney Cook Classic in 2017, where he led 112 out of the 140 laps and held of challenges from Stacy Puryear and Jason York to pick up the most prestigious win of his Late Model career to date.
Although Stallings is from Virginia, his family has been a part of the on-track activities at Ace over the past several decades and admitted that he has always felt at home at the half-mile short-track every time he straps into his car.
“My great uncle Barry Beggarly used to race there all the time, and I used to go there when I started racing Limiteds,” Stallings said. “It was a whole lot of fun, and it seemed like a nice track run on, and it fits my driving style really well. We still have a lot of fun every time we go there, and that’s one of the reasons why we’ve had so much success as we’ve had.”
Ace Speedway remains one of the main stops on the schedule for Stallings and his team, who have taken a more relaxed approach to their Late Model program after Stallings nearly lost his life in a motorcycle accident in 2016. Stallings treats his racing career as a hobby instead of a career, and he believes that this approach has led to an open and engaging work environment within his organization, which in turn has led to better on-track results.
Despite only running a part-time schedule, Stallings remains committed to improving his Late Model program every week and has his sights set on the upcoming The Race at Ace 125 for the CARS Response Energy Tour on June 9th. Stallings believes that his past success at Ace will carry over into the CARS Response Energy LMSC Tour feature at the track, but he knows that he will have to hold off many talented Late Model competitors, including Lee Pulliam, Josh Berry, and Bobby McCarty.
“We’re hoping to have a good run in the CARS Tour race at Ace,” Stallings said. “The CARS Tour has some of the stiffest competition around, and some of the best drivers in the Late Model division right now compete in the CARS Tour. It’s definitely going to be tough, but hopefully, we can put together a strong performance like we have a bunch of the races down at Ace.”
Stallings currently sits second in the Ace Speedway Late Model points standings behind Dudley, and hopes to follow in his great uncle’s footsteps and become a champion in the division. Stallings also has more races lined up at South Boston and with the CARS Tour later in the year but plans to play the rest of his schedule by ear and to enjoy his time behind the wheel of a Late Model.