Southampton Motor Speedway season opener preview

NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series at Southampton Motor Speedway CAPRON, Va. (March 18) -- Expect a host of the area's top Late Model Stock Car drivers to be on hand this Saturday, March 22, as Southampton Motor Speedway kicks off its 2003 NASCAR Dodge...

NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series at Southampton Motor Speedway

CAPRON, Va. (March 18) -- Expect a host of the area's top Late Model Stock Car drivers to be on hand this Saturday, March 22, as Southampton Motor Speedway kicks off its 2003 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series campaign with Day at the Races Pit gates open at 10:30 a.m. Front gates open and practice gets under way at 12 noon. Time trials start at 2:40 p.m. and the year's first feature contest goes green at 4 Saturday's lineup includes: Late Model Stock Cars (200 laps); Mike Duman Auto Sales Limited Late Models (50 laps); and, Ukrop's Mid-Atlantic Champ Karts (25 laps) Tickets are $12 for adults and $4 for youths (6-12). Children under 6 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Active-duty military (with ID), senior citizens (65+) and teens (13-19) receive a $2 discount off the adult admission price.

This Saturday's 200-lap Late Model feature is the first event in SMS's five-race "Super Series." Other races in the series -- all 200-lappers -- are slated for May 23, July 3 (a Thursday), Aug. 29 and Sept. 19. Posted awards for the series, which include race purses, a points fund and the "RaceRap Run for the Riches" bonus, total $103 A driver may claim a portion of the RaceRap bonus by winning three, four or five of the races in the series. With three victories, he or she will pocket an extra $5 Win four of five and the bonus grows to $10,000. For a clean sweep, the bonus payout reaches $25 If a driver did manage to win all five races in the series, his or her total take from the five races would top $41,000.

The "Super Series" and the "RaceRap Run for the Riches" bonus have generated tremendous preseason interest throughout the Late Model community. Thirty drivers make up the current series entry list with more expected to sign up on Saturday Among those already entered are (in alphabetical order): Bubba Adams, Jimmy Adkins, Terry Allison, David Blankenship, Mike Buffkin, Brandon Butler, Jamey Caudill, Brian Carter, Tommy Cherry, Mike Conner, Tony Culley, John Eversole Jr., Albert Falk, Tony Grady, Ryan Hackett, Denny Hamlin, Junior Hargrave, Woody Howard, Bubba Johnston, Bud Kenny, Mark McFarland, Philip Morris, Steve Owens, Chris Perry, Mike Queen, Ron Roberts, Eric Sartin, John Staton, Phil Warren and Nick Woodward.

How strong is this group of 30 drivers?

Consider that the list includes five former NASCAR regional champions -- Adams (Mid-Atlantic, 1986), Warren (Mid-Atlantic, 1995), Woodward (Atlantic Seaboard, 2000), Butler (Atlantic Seaboard, 2001), Morris (Blue Ridge, 2001) -- and one current regional champ, Caudill (Southeastern Coastal, 2002).

Consider that the list includes all five drivers who have claimed Late Model Stock Car championships at SMS -- Warren (1997), Johnston (1998 and 1999), Woodward (2000), Butler (2001) and Howard (2002).

Consider that the list includes all three winners of SMS's OktoberFAST 250 Late Model race -- Morris (2000), Woodward (2001), Caudill (2002).

Consider that the list includes four drivers who have recorded victories in special Late Model events at Martinsville Speedway -- Warren, Morris, Blankenship and Buffkin.

Consider that, among them, the listed drivers have won 64% of all the Late Model Stock Car races ever held at SMS -- 84 out of 132.

It's a strong group, indeed, and should help to launch SMS's '03 season in fine style!

After coming on board as the presenting sponsor of the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series in 2002, Dodge has stepped up its commitment, signing a multi-year pact to be the exclusive title sponsor of the newly rechristened "NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series." The sanctioning body made the announcement on March 10.

After Saturday's season opener, SMS switches to its regular Friday schedule for WVBT Fox 43 Night at the Races on March 28 The March 28 lineup includes: Late Model Stocks (100 laps); Limited Late Models (50 laps); Rick's Rock Cafe Pure Stocks (25 laps); INEX Little Race Cars Legends (25 laps); and, Super Fours (25 laps) Pit gates open at 3 p.m. Front gates open and practice begins at 4:30. Time trials start at 6:40 and racing commences at 8.

In its fourth season under the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series banner, Southampton Motor Speedway is a 4/10-mile, paved tri-oval, similar in configuration to Richmond International Raceway. The track is located on U.S. Highway 58, one mile west of Capron and 17 miles east of I-95 (Emporia exit) To learn more about SMS and its 2003 schedule of events, fans may call the Speedway office at (434) 658-RACE or visit the track's web site at


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Drivers Nick Woodward , Steve Owen , Mark McFarland , Denny Hamlin , Philip Morris , Ryan Hackett