Monthly Archives: March 2019

Thomas Burbage Ready to Defend East Carolina Motor Speedway Title – Sets His Eyes on a Threepeat

Thomas Burbage works off Turn 4 during an afternoon practice session at East Carolina Motor Speedway. (Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com)

With spring officially upon us here in the Mid-Atlantic Racing region it means two things; 1) We are all going to be sneezing uncontrollably for the next month and a half and, 2) Its time to go back racing! Hickory Motor Speedway kicked off their, and North Carolina’s, NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) last weekend with Jacob Heafner and Adam Lemke finding their way into victory lane. One week later East Carolina Motor Speedway (ECMS) is ready to dust off the marbles and get back to racing. One driver in particular is certainly ready to get back on track and defend his title.

ECMS is a rather unique, 3/8-mile high banked D-shape oval located in the small town of Robersonville, North Carolina just off route 64. The speedway was built back in the early ’90s and has a track surface that would rival that of Myrtle Beach. However, that’s not really it’s a most unique feature, in ours and most drivers we talk to opinion. How one navigates turn two can be the key to landing you in victory lane or it can be the reason you find yourself stuffed in the outside retaining wall.

Over the last two years, Thomas Burbage has really hit on something at ECMS and with some of the changes over the offseason, he looks to keep that momentum going.

“We changed a few things,” Burbage told The Weekly Racer when asked about the offseason. “Been looking at different setup packages to try and get better. We get the super sucker carb plate back and we changed a few things on the engine package to give us a little more horsepower.  Hopefully, everything works out and we can defend our title.”

Even though Burbage is going into 2019 as the two-time defending LMSC champion he knows that he and his team has to be on their game week in and week out if they want a third.

“I would say there are three to four good teams that are front runners,” Burbage said about the competition. “Louis White is always strong when it counts. Kenneth Mercer really came on strong last year and has a great long run car. Wesley Johnson fought hard all year long last year and I’m sure will be up there again this year.  We always go to the race track with the mindset of being on our game because any given weekend we can be the one chasing the leader for a win.”

 

Jesse Council Hangs Up Helmet to Spend Time with Family

For the past few years, the Street Stock division at East Carolina has been dominated by Hobgood, North Carolina driver Jesse Council. However, in 2019 we are guaranteed to see new faces in victory lane as well as the opportunity for a brand new champion. Council has decided to hang up the helmet and driving suit to spend more time with his family.

“I have sold my car and most everything I had associated with racing,” Council told The Weekly Racer. “Last year was a high note to end on. We only lost two races at East Carolina all season. Everything is great. I just want to spend more time with my wife and kids.”

With Council not returning this season, it will certainly open the door for new faces to make their trip to victory lane. Could we see Travis Roberson pull double duty in both the Street Stock and Chargers? Will Chris Connor come back from the offseason stronger than before? One thing is for certain, we will find out this Saturday afternoon when the green flag waves.

 

Charger Division Open for the Taking as Well

Doug Warren, who won the 2018 Charger track champion, will not return full time in 2019 to defend his title. In fact, Warren will make the step up to running a limited schedule in the Late Model Stock Car division. Can Travis Roberson take the top spot this year at his home track? Or, will Jeremy Bohne or Michael O’Brien step up to the plate to take the title?

Of course, titles are on the line for the Bando’s, Mini Stocks, and Bombers starting this Saturday. Cameron Murray, David Willis, Mike Parrish are all looking to defend their titles this summer respectfully. Also, making their return to East Carolina will be the INEX Legends.

Registration will open Saturday morning at 9:00 AM EDT with a two-hour practice session starting at 10:00. Qualifying is scheduled to get underway at 1:00. Bando’s will start based on their practice time, Jr Bombers & Bombers will draw for positions. Mini Stock and UCAR’s will group qualify while Street Stock, Legend, Chargers, and Late Model will all go out for single-car qualifying.

Racing is scheduled to kick off at 3:00 PM EDT. Make sure to follow The Weekly Racer’s Twitter feed for LIVE coverage beginning with qualifying.

 

Lee Pulliam and Philip Morris Split Twin Bill in 2019 South Boston Season Opener

Lee Pulliam power through turn four during practice for the Danville Toyota Twin 100. (Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer)

South Boston, VA– It was time to knock the dust off the racing boots and clean those helmet visors because it was time to get back to good ole American asphalt short track racing this weekend at one of NASCAR’s most historic short tracks – South Boston Speedway.

As been tradition, South Boston Speedway kicked off the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season with a pair of one hundred lap twins. Seventeen cars from all over Virginia and North Carolina made the trip all hunting for the first wins of the season. It was no surprise to see names like Philip Morris, Lee Pulliam, and Peyton Sellers on the entry list. It was also no surprise to see those names at the top of the leader board. Peyton Sellers being the fastest in first practice while Pulliam paced second.

It was Peyton Sellers who earned not only the honors of leading the field to the green flag for the first race but also broke the track record with his 14.676 (98.119 MPH) lap. Lee Pulliam, Philip Morris, Mike Looney, and Mike Jones were the fastest five cars during euro style qualifying. Race number two would be set per the NASCAR rule book for when twin races are run – no less than an eight-car invert.

As usual race number one was tame. Drivers settled in line early and gave more room than usual. Peyton Sellers got to the gas quick, assumed the lead early, and set the cruise control. The defending track champion looked poised to take the first win of the year and set a precedent that he was here to defend his title. As the laps counted down the field got strung out which prompted NASCAR to throw the yellow flag, bunch up the field, and allow the drivers to take the cone. As the control car, Sellers took the outside which proved to be a sound strategy throughout the race; Pulliam and Morris elected to stay low.

When officials threw the green flag it didn’t take long for things to heat up. Sellers had to go on the defense as Pulliam wanted to take the lead and Philip Morris was there to capitalize should things go south. He looked like he was going to be able to use the high line to do just that but would eventually succumb to Pulliam’s perseverance losing the lead on lap 45.

The second caution of the race came just shortly after when Jason Barnes looped it out of turn two. Unfortunately, Justin Carroll locked up his brakes to try and avoid and ended up sliding right into the tires and water barriers at the entrance to the back pits. NASCAR decided to stop the field on the front stretch to take care of the tires. Pulliam took control once the race went back green and that was all she wrote. Morris made more than an honest attempt to take second from Sellers but was not able to and would have to settle with a third-place finish. Mike Looney and Austin Thaxton would round out the top five.

Pulliam was very happy climbing out of the car in victory lane for the first time in years.

“Well, this is the first new car I have had in nine years, I have been driving an old car,” Pulliam said in victory lane. “Got to thank Mr. Kiker for giving us the opportunity to build this thing, I have been dying to get in a new one for a while. Man, it feels good to have what these guys have and be back in victory lane. This is a special day for me.”

Pulliam was also asked about the quality of drivers and what was more difficult getting around or staying in front of [Philip] Morris and [Peyton] Sellers.

“It was tougher to pass them than stay ahead of them,” Pulliam explained. “We had a really good car right there. Philip [Morris] is always tough, he’s trying to protect the bottom and ride the brake, I had to move him because I knew he was going to be pretty impossible to pass riding that brake pedal. Peyton and I had a good battle there side by side and we were giving all we had. I knew if we could get out front it would be over, had to get that clean air. Feels good for sure. I hadn’t gotten a win at South Boston since 2016, it was my first on this new pavement. Gotta think my fans, my family, my crew I can’t do it without all of these guys.”

Nine cars were inverted for the start of race two handing the front row over to Mike Jones and Mark Wertz. Both drivers ran into issue quick, however. Jones had to come down pit road so his crew could torque all four tires. Because of NASCAR rules, Thomas Scott and the rest of the inside row moved up. Mark Wertz soon ran into issues of his own when something seemed to go south in the power plant. Luckily he was able to make it to pit road without causing any damage – Thomas Scott assumed the lead and tried to put distance between him and the rest of the field.

However, Philip Morris had other ideas for this race and took the lead from Scott by lap fifteen. The first caution of race two came once again at the hands of NASCAR when officials threw a competition yellow at lap thirty-two to bunch the field up once again. Morris did Philip Morris things on the ensuing restart and jumped back out to the lead and never looked back. A great battle for second ensued between Thomas Scott, Peyton Sellers, and Lee Pulliam sometimes even going three wide. That is when things went south for Pulliam who got into the outside wall hard causing enough damage to end his afternoon early.

Morris took care of business once again when the green flag waved for the last time clearing Scott going into one. Took Peyton Sellers two laps to clear Scott himself which was just enough time for Morris to create a gap that was virtually impossible to collapse. That being said the best show of the afternoon in our opinion was the eventual battle for third place between Austin Thaxton and Thomas Scott. Thaxton was able to use the top groove like most others to hold off Scott for three-quarters of the race. However, a slip out of two with a handful of laps left forced him to surrender the position to Scott.

Philip Morris was asked about his dominance last year and what that means looking forward to another NASCAR National Championship this year.

“Last year we didn’t get a win till after April so I feel great about today and this brand new car,” Morris said in victory lane. “The car responded to all the changes after the first break. I don’t even know my car would have been able to keep up with those guys in the first race, they were really fast, hats off to Peyton [Sellers] and those guys for digging hard. “

Knowing he is going to make another run at a National title Morris was asked where he is going to race this year. Pretty simple answer, anywhere the cars are.

“We are going to go where we can,” Morris explained. “South Boston has a few dates, we will be at Langley, Dominion, Motor Mile; anywhere we can get the car count. Thank god we had some cars here today, South Boston has always been good with that.”

South Boston Speedway will be back in action in just two weeks for the NASCAR Whelen Modified 150-lap feature. Tickets can be purchased at the track or online at http://www.southbostonspeedway.com

(Featured photo: Philip Morris celebrates first of many victories to come in 2019. Andy Newsome/Loose in Tight Off)

 

Race 1 Results;

  1. #5 Lee Pulliam; 100
  2. #26 Peyton Sellers; 100
  3. #01 Philip Morris; 100
  4. #87 Mike Looney; 100
  5. #12 Austin Thaxton; 100
  6. #11 Jeff Oakley; 100
  7. #8 Thomas Scott; 100
  8. #55 Mark Wertz; 100
  9. #39 Mike Jones; 100
  10. #91 Justin Carroll; 99
  11. #28 Jason Barnes; 99
  12. #50 Raymond Pittman, III; 98
  13. #22 Eric Winslow; 64
  14. #09 Trey Crews; 49
  15. #90 Terry Carroll; 37
  16. #14 Dusty Ellington; 31
  17. #9 Chris Denny; 24

 

Race 2 Results;

  1. #01 Philip Morris; 100
  2. #26 Peyton Sellers; 100
  3. #8 Thomas Scott; 100
  4. #12 Austin Thaxton; 100
  5. #28 Jason Barnes; 100
  6. #9 Trey Crews; 100
  7. #11 Jeff Oakley; 100
  8. #91 Justin Carroll; 99
  9. #50 Raymond Pittman; 97
  10. #22 Eric Winslow; 57
  11. #5 Lee Pulliam; 38
  12. #55 Mark Wertz; 9
  13. #2 Chris Denny; 1
  14. #87 Mike Looney; DNS

Craving More Track Time, Daniel Makes Big Jump To Limited Sportsman Division At South Boston Speedway

SOUTH BOSTON, VA – Kenny Daniel enjoyed his rookie season in the entry-level Hornet Division at South Boston Speedway last year and was fairly successful, finishing fifth in the points.

But there was something missing for the 36-year-old Daniel that prompted a big jump up for the 2019 season which begins Saturday afternoon with the Danville Toyota NASCAR Late Model Twin 100s.

The sod farmer from Sutherlin will strap into a Limited Sportsman car for Saturday’s 50-lap Limited race. And it’s those 50 laps that prompted Daniel to make the move.

It’s a real big jump from the Hornets to Limiteds. There’s a lot more motor … four cylinders more,” Daniel joked. “But mainly it’s to run more laps. You get a lot more laps in the Limiteds. It was only 15-lap races in the Hornets. By the time you get going, it’s time to quit.”

So, while Daniel and his crew were keeping his Hornet Division car race-ready last year, they were also building a Limited Sportsman car for this season. They probably did 90 percent of the work themselves, farming out only the set up to Midnight Performance and the shocks to Puryear Racing Parts.

The car was finished a couple of weeks ago and they’ve managed to get to the track twice to test already. And as Daniel had expected, it’s a huge step up for him.

“We’re happy with the car and the way it’s handling. We’ve still got some adjustments and fine tuning,” said Daniel. “The driver has still got a lot of adjusting to do. I’ve got to get more seat time and get info back to the crew.

“The power has been an adjustment, but I like the power. The biggest adjustment has probably been the grip with the bigger tires,” said Daniel, who plans to start at the rear of the field for the “first two or three races” until he gets a good feel for the car.

For older race fans, Daniel’s car will look familiar: it’s the same bright yellow with the No. 2 on the door that the late Goo Fallen’s cars ran at South Boston with driver Danny Willis Sr. back in the 1990s.

“It’s a throwback to Goo’s car and to my daddy. That was the number my daddy ran when he raced sprint cars and that was the number and color Goo ran. My dad worked on Goo’s pit crew,” said Daniel, who is sponsored by White Appraisals, Southern Restorations, Nutrient Solutions, and of course, his family’s farm, Daniel’s Sod Farm. “I was just a little kid, but I used to go to Goo’s shop with my dad some nights and roll around on a creeper while they worked on the car.”

There will be another familiar look to the car: it will carry the bright blue angel wings his Hornet car carried last year. They are a tribute to his young daughter Kendal, who was diagnosed with Angelman syndrome when she was two. Angelman syndrome is a rare neuro-genetic disorder with symptoms that include developmental delay, lack of speech, seizures and walking and balance disorders. Children with Angelman syndrome typically have a happy, excitable demeanor with frequent smiling, laughter and hand-flapping movements.

South Boston Speedway’s season opens Saturday afternoon with twin 100-lap Late Model Stock races, a 50-lap Limited Sportsman race, a 30-lap Pure Stock race and a 15-lap Hornets race. Grandstands open at 12:30 p.m. and the first race begins at 2 p.m.

Tickets are just $10 for adults and children 12-and-under admitted free. Advance tickets may be purchased by calling 877.440.1540 or by stopping by the South Boston Speedway office between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

South Boston Speedway Ready to Go Racing in 2019

After what seems like a cold, dark, wet eternity, things are about to be right in the world again. Racing season is upon us and South Boston Speedway is ready to lead the way to green once again officially kicking off the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in the Mid-Atlantic region. Late Model Stock Cars will headline a five-race – four-division afternoon this Saturday, March 16, 2019, with a pair of 100-lap features. Limited Sportsman are on tap for fifty laps, Pure Stocks for thirty, and Hornets will kick off the evening with a fifteen lap feature.

South Boston Speedway will see a few more rule changes this year aimed at making racers and drivers alike get more bang for their buck. One of the easier changes for fans to notice right away will be the fact that all races less than 150-laps will not count caution laps. Yup, that means every race this season but one – the 200-lapper celebrating Independence Day that will serve as the second leg of the Virginia Triple Crown – will be full green flag races.

“We do our best to always put our fans first,” said South Boston Speedway General Manager Cathy Rice. “By not counting the caution laps in races 150 laps or shorter, fans will get to enjoy more laps of racing every race. It should make race nights much more fun for everyone.”

Both the 2018 track champion and second runner-up each had good points to make while looking forward to the rule change.

“It’s going to help the fans get their money’s worth. They know they are going to get a set number of laps,” said Thomas Scott. “From a safety standpoint for the crews, if you are involved in something on the track and have to come in and change a tire or fix something, you don’t have to worry about rushing to get out without losing a lap. It’s going to make pit road safer.”

“It’s going to keep more people on the lead lap and it’s going to make the points race closer” said Sellers. “When you have trouble and pit under caution, you’re not automatically going laps down like in the past and that will tighten things up.”

One of the more “behind the scenes” changes the racers will experience that will ultimately help the fans is the addition to new engine options for the Limited Sportsman division that will help with the cost within the division. The engine combination the division has utilized for years will remain an option in 2019, with add-ons to make it competitive with the four new engines. Any of the four new engine combinations should cost less than $4,000. For a more detailed explanation head over to South Boston’s website.

For drivers making the trip, this weekend Registration opens at 9:30 AM EDT with the first car hitting the speedway for practice at 11. Grandstands will open to fans at 12:30 PM EDT. Qualifying and TWR’s LIVE coverage on Twitter is scheduled to begin at 1:00 PM EDT followed by a  2:00 PM Green Flag. See the details below for a full schedule.