As far as Peyton Sellers and Lee Pulliam are concerned, it doesn’t get much bigger than the Thunder Road Harley-Davidson presented by Grand Atlantic Ocean Resort NASCAR Whelen Late Model 200 at South Boston Speedway on June 29.
“This race has been gaining a lot of traction over the past few years,” said Sellers. “It brings cars from a lot of different tracks.”
“It’s a huge deal,” said Pulliam.
These two NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champions should know. Between them they have won eight of the mid-season-classics. At one point, Pulliam won an amazing six straight. Sellers has won it twice, in 2005 and then again last season.
Why is the 200-lapper such a big deal? Let’s count the ways.
First, it is the initial leg of the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown, the three-race series that awards the winner $7,000, the second-place finisher $2,000 and the third-place finisher $1,000. The other two races in the series are the Hampton Heat at Langley Speedway on July 20 and the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway on October 5.
“It’s an absolute necessity to finish good in this race if you want to win the triple crown,” said Pulliam, who won the 2015 triple crown. “One bad race and you’re not going to win this deal. You have to get off on the right foot.”
“You used to have a mulligan in the triple crown. Now it takes three perfect races,” added Sellers, who has captured three triple crown titles. “If you are going to run good in the triple crown, you have to run good at South Boston.”
Then there is the purse. For the first time, the winner will take home $10,000 up from $6,500 in past years. “That’s going to help bring some really good cars,” Sellers said of the 10-grand first-place prize.
Last year’s Thunder Road Harley-Davidson 200 attracted 35 entries. A similar field is expected again this season.
“I think with the purse this is definitely going to bring a few more (cars),” said Sellers. “It’s kind of an off weekend. People tend to come out. They know South Boston will have seven or eight thousand fans there and it’s easier to pick up a one-off sponsorship.”
Then there are the non-racing activities that make the night a big deal. There will be a huge prerace fan-appreciation event on track with drivers from all divisions signing autographs and interacting with fans.
The night will end with a bang as the area’s largest Fourth of July fireworks display will be set off outside of the third turn following the final race of the night.
There will be a full night of racing action with the 200-lap Late Model race, a 75-lap Limited Sportsman race, a 40-lap Budweiser Pure Stock race, and a 20-lap Budweiser Hornets race.
Advance tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the South Boston Speedway office or by calling 877.440.1540, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On race day tickets will be $20 for adults. Children 12-and-under will be admitted free with a paying adult.