Southampton Motor Speedway season preview

CAPRON, Va. (Feb. 27) - With less than a month to go before the beginning of its 2003 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge campaign, Southampton Motor Speedway has released a schedule of events that will lead up to the March 22 season ...

CAPRON, Va. (Feb. 27) - With less than a month to go before the beginning of its 2003 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge campaign, Southampton Motor Speedway has released a schedule of events that will lead up to the March 22 season opener Saturday, March 1 - Car display at Southpark Mall in Colonial Heights, Va. Display times will coincide with mall hours. Drivers expected to appear include: John Eversole Jr., Ron Roberts, Ray Ashworth, Bill McGonigal, Michael Perkins, Tony Culley and Rodney Taylor Saturday, March 8 - Car display at Chesapeake Square in Chesapeake, Va. Display times will coincide with mall hours. Drivers expected to appear include: Terry Allison, Chris Perry, Jimmy Adkins, Carl Ogburn, Steve Goetz, Junior Hargrave, David Allison, Ken Rountree and Tony Culley Also on March 8, SMS will host the first of two scheduled preseason practice sessions at the track in Capron. Pit gates open at 10 a.m. and practice rounds will run from 12 noon `til 5 p.m. There will be no charge for grandstand admission Saturday, March 15 - The final preseason open practice. As on March 8, pit gates open at 10 a.m. with on-track activities lasting from 12 noon `til 5 p.m. There will be no charge for grandstand admission.

On March 22, SMS will kick off its 2003 season with a special Saturday afternoon program - RaceWorld.com Day at the Races The feature lineup includes: RaceWorld.com Late Model Stock Cars (200 laps); Mike Duman Auto Sales Limited Late Models (50 laps); and, Ukrop's Mid-Atlantic Champ Karts (25 laps) Pit gates open at 10:30 a.m. Front gates open and practice begins at 12 noon. Time trials start at 2:40 p.m. and the first race goes green at 4 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.

The Late Model 200-lapper on Opening Day will be the first event in SMS's five-race "Super Series." Other races in the series - all 200 lap affairs - are slated for May 23, July 3 (a Thursday), Aug. 29 and Sept. 19. Posted awards for the series (including purses, a points fund and the "RaceRap Run for the Riches" bonus) total $103,000. Entry blanks for the "Super Series" were mailed to Late Model drivers around the area just after the first of the year. Among the drivers who have responded thus far are 2002 Southeastern Coastal Region champ Jamey Caudill and past regional champions Brandon Butler, Nick Woodward and Phil Warren Entry blanks may be obtained via the track's newly-launched website - www.SouthamptonMotor Speedway.com - or by calling the track office at (434) 658-RACE.

In laying out the race procedures for the "Super Series," SMS officials hope to introduce a bit of pit strategy into the proceedings. Each of the races will be run in two segments with a 10-minute break at the halfway mark. Making a pit stop during that break, however, is optional and drivers who do stop at the break will give up their track position to those who choose to stay out Conceivably, a team could opt to pit before the midpoint and gain track position for the start of the second half of the race. Or they could wait until late in the event to pit, then try to make a dash from the rear of the field on newer tires. Then again, a team could hit on the perfect setup and choose not to stop at all The races will start in the customary double-file formation. The start of the second segment will also be double-file with lapped cars occupying the outside lane. All other restarts will be single-file At lap 180, a caution flag will be displayed and lead-lap cars will be placed at the head of the field. Each "Super Series" race will conclude with 20 green-flag circuits.

Three dates for the Virginia Mini-Cup Racing Association have been added to SMS's `03 schedule. The group is slated to appear on April 18, June 20 and Sept. 1 Also, race dates for the Super Fours (a combination class of Mini Stocks and Mini Trucks) have been shuffled a bit. The division is now scheduled to compete on March 28, May 9, Aug. 15 and Aug. 2.

For drivers looking to get in a little private track time, SMS General Manager Brad Skelding has announced that the daytime track rental rate for `03 will be $25/hour. Rates for evening rentals, when lights will be needed, may be negotiated Call the track office at (434) 658-RACE to schedule your test session.

Owing, in part, to the sluggish economy, SMS's plans for a 1/8-mile dragstrip have been slowed. According to Skelding, however, the dragstrip is still viewed as a key component in SMS's future growth and the track remains committed to its construction.

Nearing the start of its fourth season under the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge 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 website, www.SouthamptonMotorSpeedway.com.

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