As a racer, Peyton Sellers knows it’s best not to become overly satisfied.
But a month after clinching a record third straight South Boston Speedway Late Model Stock championship, he feels pretty good about the season, even if there was a little disappointment down the stretch.
“Honestly, we ran 35 regular season races (18 at South Boston), won eight (overall), and a track title at our home track. In a perfect world we would have won the national title, but in the real world, we had as good a year as we could hope for,” said Sellers.
In 18 starts at South Boston Speedway Sellers had six wins, 15 top fives, never finished out of the top 10 and led 368 laps to win his fifth overall South Boston title.
The fifth track championship leaves him two behind all-time championship leader David Blankenship. Sellers is the only driver to win three consecutive titles. Blankenship won two in a row on two occasions (1989-1990 and 1997-1998), Justin Johnson won back-to-back in 2009 and 2010 and Matt Bowling doubled up in 2015 and 2016.
The downside to 2019 for Sellers? Missing out on a second NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship and a third Virginia Late Model Triple Crown title.
After leading the national championship race all season, Sellers fell behind with a month remaining and never could catch up. He wound up sixth, 20 points behind winner Jacob Goede, who races in the Midwest. He finished second to fellow South Boston driver Lee Pulliam in the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown standings.
“We had a good year. A few things didn’t play out exactly right, but we were as competitive as we’ve ever been and it paid off,” said Sellers, who is sponsored by Clarence’s Steakhouse, Danville Toyota, St. Lawrence Radiology, Liquid Performance, Riverside Exxon and C&L Machine. “We led the national points from our home track until four races to go. We all got our hopes up for a national title, but we came up short on that and the triple crown. But we did win the track title.”
Sellers believes an average second half of the season proved costly to his national title hopes. After winning the midseason Thunder Road Harley-Davidson presented by Grand Atlantic Ocean Resort 200 on June 29 for his fourth South Boston victory, he won only twice more all season, sweeping twin 75-lappers on July 13.
“I’m convinced that what kept me from winning the national title was that we cooled off after the Fourth of July and Lee got hot,” said Sellers, alluding to Pulliam’s five victories after the halfway point of the season.
But that’s all in Sellers’ rear-view mirror. “I’ll be honest, in this racing world, you’d better be able to put things behind you,” he said.
Sellers is most proud of the level of competition he bested for his back-to-back-to-back South Boston Speedway championships.
“I look back at who I’ve raced against to win these championships. (Bobby) McCarty in ’17, (Philip) Morris in ’18 and Pulliam this year,” said Sellers. McCarty is the reigning CARS Tour champion and Morris and Pulliam have nine national championships between them.
“Three in a row … it’s hard to win one championship. All three had challenges throughout the year. We had an unbelievable year this year and an unbelievable year last year.”
Cover photo by Jaden Austin.