Season finale at South Boston Speedway meant champions were to be crowned and potential scores to be settled. With just a few little harmless clouds and a bright round moon peeking through over the track, conditions were right for a night of great local short track racing. It was also condition ripe for some of the more stranger things to happen only at a local short track as well. Much was on the line last weekend at South Boston Speedway as the track championship was still mathematically in play.

Matt Bowling who has lead for much of the season had a substantial lead over teammate Peyton Sellers but with twin 75’s schedueled, nothing was concrete just yet. Also for Bowling, the Virginia State Championship and the prestigious National Championship was still to be determined and should Bowling win, both titles would definitely be awarded to Matt Bowling. But that’s why we race them anyways, not to mention a stellar field was on hand for the nights racing and victory can be so sweet.

Afternoon qualifying started the days events and emerging at the top of the sheet was Matt Bowling would laid down the pole lap set at 15.967 sec or 90.186 mph. There to also share that front row with Bowling was Motor Mile Speedway’s young gun Ryan Repko in his first start in a Late Model. Hometown favorite Austin Thaxton was fast starting third, CE Falk in a return to action was fourth and back since earlier in the year at South Boston Speedway was Lee Pulliam who just won the 2016 Motor Mile Speedway championship a week ago would start fifth.

But news spread that Pulliam failed post qualifying tech for weight and would start twenty fifth in the twenty six car field. Notables also in the field was Sellers starting sixth, Thomas Scott in his final Late Model start was eighth and Mark Wertz who would start eleventh with much work to do. With the drop of the green flag, Matt Bowling would show a field of twenty six Late Models into turn one before clearing to secure the early race lead.

On back, Thaxton tucked in the second spot but then action saw Falk and Scott battle hard for third where Falk won that spot laps later. Several laps in the race and at this point, Bowling was setting a fierce pace as the race leader and soon encountered slower race traffic allowing Thaxton to narrow down Bowling’s race lead. Approaching the halfway point, Bowling was still the leader but Thaxton and now Falk were pacing and mirroring lap times of the leader just car lengths apart. It was all green flag racing till on lap 37 that Nathan Crews went around to bring out the race caution.

Soon the green would fly once again and Bowling sets the pace but this time Thaxton began to get physical with the leader giving him a shot in the rear to let him know I’m still here. On back now showing fifth in the field was Lee Pulliam who from the rear was clearly on a mission. Soon after Pulliam would do away with Danny Willis then easily cleared Falk for third. Just a few laps later, Pulliam blew by Thaxton and was then haunting Bowling for the race lead.

The battle for the race lead ensued, it was brief and without incident, lap fifty nine of the race and new race leader was Lee Pulliam. But it wasn’t over either as Bowling gives Pulliam a shot that sends the leader up the hill allowing Bowling to get underneath. But back comes Pulliam who returns the shot taken earlier and regains the race lead to the delight of the fans of the hard racing between the two. But that was all Bowling could do as Lee Pulliam from the twenty fifth starting position, comes through the field and wins the first seventy five lap feature.

Thaxton,Bowling, Falk and Willis were the five best of the feature. In the night cap and after an eight car invert to the grid saw Ryan Repko show twenty six Late Models down into turn one as the green waved at South Boston Speedway. But for Repko, the lead was short lived as the caution flew when his motor expired on the first lap. Complete restart to the race and taking the green flag was Mark Wertz but from the outside line came Peyton Sellers to lead lap one. Willis, Falk and Bowling were still sorting spots out on the same lap.

Several laps in, Peyton Sellers was on a rail and was creating some distance from Wertz when the caution flew on lap thirteen. In a bloom of heavy smoke emerged Matt Bowling whose engine grenades on the backstretch causing much concern to his National, State and track championships in his 2016 race season. After extensive clean up, we were back at it again when the green flag waved and Sellers once again establishes the race lead as Willis gives chase.

Thaxton would make quick work of Willis for second who left the door open for Pulliam who is now third on the grid. Several laps later in this green flag run, Sellers continued to lead but lap times showed that Thaxton and Pulliam were much faster, closing in on the leader. For the leader, news got worse when the caution came out on lap sixty seven to bunch up the field with just a hand full of laps to go. After the brief caution, green flag was back in the air, full moon overhead and the midnight hour was upon us all.

It was going to be an eight lap shootout and green would fly once again, Sellers with the jump earns the lead but out of turn two, Pulliam was back on the bumper of the leader. Coming out of turn four, Pulliam would get to the rear fender as he would go underneath of the leader. In a drag race down the front stretch, Sellers enters turn one first but still with a nose under the rear fender of race leader Sellers is Pulliam. But suddenly the caution flag waves, cautions light flash and the roar of the engines die off, Peyton Sellers is in the turn one wall. Contact between the two leaders brings out the caution once again on lap sixty eight of the event but there was more to come on this caution period.

As the field swung back around turn one, Sellers who had already exited his car was walking toward the infield when he then saw Pulliam coming under the caution. Sellers would then walk in front of Pulliam’s car forcing Pulliam to come to a stop on the track. Looking as if Sellers just wanted to say a few pleasantries to Pulliam, Sellers would then make a slight dash to the other side of the car and stuck his head in Pulliam’s car. In a bizarre move, Pulliam took off but not before it was realized that Sellers had actually reached in the car and pulled out the wires to the MSD box that controls the ignition of the spark to the plugs on the engine. As a result, battery power was lost shutting down Pulliam and his chance to double down at South Boston Speedway.

Still, we had a race to conclude that had now just seven laps left and when the green flag waved, Austin Thaxton was the race leader. Mark Wertz was able to reach the rear bumper of the leader but that was as close as he was going to get as Austin Thaxton would go on to win the second seventy five lap feature ending a thrilling race season at South Boston Speedway. Mark Wertz, Thomas Scott, CE Falk and Trey Crews rounded out the top five in the field. At the conclusion of the night, the 2016 South Boston Speedway track champion was awarded to Matt Bowling.

For Bowling, it didn’t end there as news quickly spread that the others involved in the State and National points did not win which officially makes Matt Bowling a State and National NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division One Champion. Its been said, its been proven that the route to the National NWAAS Championship goes through South Boston Speedway. In 2016, it can now be said that it began and ended at the historic South Boston Speedway.

Race Results #1
1 #5 Lee Pulliam
2 #12 Austin Thaxton
3 #83 Matt Bowling
4 #04 CE Falk
5 #23 Danny Willis Jr
6 #26 Peyton Sellers
7 #55 Mark Wertz
8 #14 Ryan Repko
9 #3 Nathan Crews
10 #8 Thomas Scott
11 #41 Kyle Dudley
12 #15 Kyle Barnes
13 #9 Alex Brock
14 #29 Stuart Crews
15 #2 Dennis Holdren
16 #5b Jason Barnes
17 #91 Justin Carroll
18 #50 Raymond Pittman III
19 #64 Charles Barnes
20 #51 Jason Pittman
21 #4 John Moore
22 #83x Eric Winslow
23 #2b Brandon Pierce
24 #38 Mark Keesee Jr
25 #87 Billy Martin
26 #75 Daniel Crews

Race Results #2
1 #12 Austin Thaxton
2 #55 Mark Wertz
3 #8 Thomas Scott
4 #04 CE Falk
5 #38 Trey Crews
6 #23 Danny Willis Jr
7 #41 Kyle Dudley
8 #5b Jason Barnes
9 #2 Dennis Holdren
10 #3 Nathan Crews
11 #15 Kyle Barnes
12 #4 John Moore
13 #9a Alex Brock
14 #51 Jason Pittman
15 #26 Peyton Sellers
16 #5 Lee Pulliam
17 #50 Raymond Pittman III
18 #29 Stuart Crews
19 #91 Justin Carroll
20 #64 Charles Barnes
21 #83 Matt Bowling
22 #83x Eric Winslow
23 #75 Daniel Crews
24 #14 Ryan Repko