Philip Morris Wins Thunder Road Harley Davidson 200 at South Boston Speedway
South Boston, VA – Matt Bowling was the fastest man in qualifying earlier in the afternoon on the freshly paved 4/10-mile oval but at the end of the night, it was Philip Morris in victory lane and $6,500 richer. The 200-lap feature was the kick off to the VA Triple Crown series – making its return to Late Model racing after Langley Speedway reopened – and witnessed six lead changes over five drivers. Three of which are past NWAAS National Champions.
Rolling off the grid in the eighth position was one of those National Champions – Philip Morris. Posting a lap just two-hundredths of a second off the lead. He would take the green flag behind Brandon Pierce, Stacy Puryear, Danny Willis, Bobby McCarty, Peyton Sellers, Trevor Ward and Matt Bowling. Morris had plenty of time and a halfway break to make his way up towards the front.When the green flag was displayed, Peyton Sellers was quick to work his #26 Clarence’s Steakhouse machine around Matt Bowling and set a blistering pace. No one in a country mile appeared to have anything for Sellers, who at one time had a six second lead over Stacy Puryear and Morris. Even though the leader was pulling away it did not take away from some of the best racing for about sixth on back to tenth. Trevor Ward, Ryan Repko, Brenden Queen, Lee Pulliam and Bobby McCarty all racing hard and exchanging positions.
When the green flag was displayed, Peyton Sellers was quick to work his #26 Clarence’s Steakhouse machine around Matt Bowling and set a blistering pace. No one in a country mile appeared to have anything for Sellers, who at one time had a six second lead over Stacy Puryear and Morris. Even though the leader was pulling away it did not take away from some of the best racing for about sixth on back to tenth. Trevor Ward, Ryan Repko, Brenden Queen, Lee Pulliam and Bobby McCarty all racing hard and exchanging positions.
The first half of the race, which was relatively calm, was only slowed by two caution periods. The first happened early in the race when Eric Winslow went around going into turn one on lap ten. The second happened on lap 93 when Trevor Ward went around. With just seven laps till the break, race control elected to run out the laps under caution and bring the teams down pit road. One interesting thing to point out, just a few laps prior to the yellow Philip Morris passed Stacy Puryear for second, built a gap, then started to fall off the pace. Either his car started to go away or he was looking to play invert games.
At the halfway break teams were brought down pit road in a single file line and were given fifteen minutes to make minor adjustments on the race car and refuel. For those not familiar with longer Late Model races, teams are typically not allowed to change tires or any “hard parts” in this time. Justin Carroll and Ryan Repko did have to make tire changes which would put both of them to the end of the line. During the break, we also learned the top eight cars would be inverted, at the time, that gave the lead of the race over to the #12 of Nick Smith.
When the green flag was once again displayed it was as if the drivers decided to take the gloves off and really get down to racing! The restart put Nick Smith and Bobby, who has already collected a win this year, on the front row. McCarty was able to lead just one lap before Smith took the lead back. The field would be bunched up just a few laps later when Danny Willis found himself in a bit of trouble down in turn four. This brought out the Mt. Dew Cone for the third time of the evening and Nick Smith elected to go to the outside for the restart – a move that would prove to be extremely beneficial for him.
Once the racing got back underway it was a barnburner to the end. Nick Smith and Philip Morris would spend the next handful of laps and three restarts beating and banging for the lead. The lead was not the only exciting battle for position. Brenden Queen, who had qualified and raced in the top ten all night, used the top groove and the cone a few times to work his way into the top five and was working on holding off company like Lee Pulliam, Peyton Sellers, and Matt Bowling.
The battle for the lead got real hot and heavy after the final restart of the night. Nick Smith again elected to go to the outside leaving Morris the inside. The two stayed almost glued to each other’s bumper for about ten laps when Morris made a power move to the inside of Smith going into three. It looked like Morris pushed up the track just slightly making contact with Smith’s car. The move was enough for Morris to take the lead on lap 159 and never look back.
Once Morris got around Smith for the lead, Stacy Puryear was able to get around the Hampton, VA native for a second a handful of laps later. Behind them was a thrilling battle for about fifth on back. Queen, Pulliam, Sellers, and McCarty all there battling for position. Queen was able to use the top groove to hold off Pulliam and Sellers for quite some time but got used up coming off four and had to keep the car off the wall.
Morris only had to deal with a few lap cars in the final ten laps of the race before taking the checkered flag and snapping Lee Pulliam’s South Boston 200 win streak. Stacy Puyear held off Nick Smith to take second. Pulliam and Sellers rounded out the top five.
“I think both of us were doing the four wheel drift thing. We made contact there and he hung onto it,” Morris said while in victory lane. “I just want to thank my crew chief, Forrest Reynolds, and these guys that never gave up when we qualified eighth today. I told them we had a good car and they didn’t doubt me, they just kept building on the setup. I want to thank my spotter who was new tonight. Forrest Reynolds Racing Chassis and Robby White Racing engines for giving me a solid piece.”
Thunder Road Harley Davidson 200 UNOFFICIAL Results
- #01 Philip Morris; 200
- #17 Stacy Puryear; 200
- #12 Nick Smith; 200
- #5 Lee Pulliam; 200
- #26 Peyton Sellers; 200
- #22 Bobby McCarty; 200
- #83 Matt Bowling; 200
- #03 Brenden Queen; 200
- #14 Ryan Repko; 200
- #55 Mark Wertz; 200
- #12 Timothy Peters; 200
- #2 Brandon Pierce; 200
- #12 Austin Thaxton; 199
- #90 Terry Carroll; 199
- #8 Thomas Scott; 199
- #19 Cameron Bowen; 198
- #57 Eddie Johnson; 196
- #91 Justin Carroll; 187
- #23 Danny Willis, Jr.; 166
- #77 Trevor Ward; 136
- #28 Jason Barnes; 133
- #22 Eric Winslow; 105
- #29 Stuart Crews; 68
- #16 R.D. Smith; 65
- #07 Dean Ward; 47
- #75 Nathan Crews; 4