As NASCAR Whelen All-American Series sanctioned tracks head into the final two weekends of competition, racers have already begun to turn their attention to the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway, which will take place in just one month on October 5th.
This year’s ValleyStar Credit Union 300 will feature a lot of changes including qualifying format, race format and the use of unlimited green, white, checkered finishes. The changes have been met with a lot of positive thoughts from racers and fans alike.
The changes to the qualifying format have drivers excited about qualifying for the first time in several years. Over the last decade, the Late Model Stock Cars have used a European style qualifying procedure where several cars take time on the track at the same time. That often led to faster cars running up on slower cars and preventing them from getting a clean lap. This year Martinsville Speedway will return to single-car qualifying and the drivers feel as if that puts them center stage.
“It puts the prestige back into it for the drivers,” two-time ValleyStar Credit Union 300 winner Lee Pulliam stated. “And if I’m a fan, I’d pay to go to qualifying. That guy on the track’s got pressure on him, he’s the only car on the racetrack with the pressure at night for those three laps. One mistake and he’s not in the field. I’m thrilled about it.”
Last year’s ValleyStar Credit Union 300 winner CE Falk likes the idea of being locked into the top 20 but says he enjoyed being in the heat races as well.
“I like being locked into the top 20,” Falk said. “That part’s cool, regardless if you win the race or not, those 20 guys that’s a big deal for them to be the 20 fastest in the field. Being a part of that group is always really cool. There’s a lot that happens in those heat races, I enjoyed them. I always made up some spots in those heat races, and it was always really cool to get wins in those heat races.”
With all those changes to think about, several drivers come into this race with another prize in the back of their minds. The ValleyStar Credit Union 300 is also the final leg of the Virginia Triple Crown for Late Model Stock Cars. The Thunder Road Harley-Davidson 200 at South Boston Speedway back in June and the Hampton Heat 200 at Langley Speedway in July were the first two events in the three-race series.
Coming into the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, last year’s Virginia Triple Crown champion Peyton Sellers leads the point standings over Pulliam. Sellers won the first race at South Boston Speedway and finished fourth after a late penalty while battling Pulliam for the lead in the second race at Langley Speedway. Pulliam hasn’t picked up a win this season in the Virginia Triple Crown races but that’s what he says his goal will be for Martinsville and he’ll let the points work themselves out.
“When you’re in this race, you just race for the win and let things end up where they end up,” Pulliam explained. “All of these races are prestigious, but I’m never thinking about a points title. I’m thinking about trying to win the race and get to victory lane and the points will work themselves out. We’ve been in the hunt for both of the first two Triple Crowns, I don’t see why Martinsville would be any different.”
In one month, all the changes will play out and the Virginia Triple Crown Late Model Stock Car championship will be settled after 200-laps around the paperclip shaped oval. It’s the biggest race of the year and with so many changes and more money than ever on the line, it will be the one race any short track race fan won’t want to miss.
Tickets to the First Data 500, NASCAR Hall of Fame 200, and the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 can be purchased online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com or by calling 877.RACE.TIX.
Cover photo by Andy Marquis.