SOUTH BOSTON, Va. — The 2018 championship chases at South Boston Speedway were a near perfect combination of experience and raw rookies.
Three division titles went to tried and true veterans while the remaining two titles were captured by drivers in their first year behind the wheel of a stock car.
Veteran Peyton Sellers claimed his fourth NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock title while Trey Crews brought home his second Limited Sportsman crown. Dennis Holdren, another seasoned veteran, dominated the Mod 4 class to claim the title.
A pair of stock car rookies, Daniel Shelton and Cameron Jarrell, shocked their respective divisions with title runs. Shelton captured the Budweiser Pure Stock class while Jarrell was the Budweiser Hornets champion.
Peyton Sellers Adds Another Crown
Sellers took a strategic approach to the 2018 season at South Boston. When Philip Morris, who captured a fifth NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship this year, got off to a hot start, Sellers began dropping to the rear of the field to take advantage of South Boston’s passing point system, which rewards points for each car passed.
Morris wound up with 10 wins and Sellers three, but Sellers still managed a 56-point advantage over Morris in the final point standings.
“At South Boston, racing with the national champion every week, you’re not going to win as many races,” said Sellers.
“With the competition level at South Boston, you don’t get a mulligan. You can’t have a bad night; if you do, it takes five nights to make up for it. Me and Philip’s cars worked well all year. I don’t think either of us were able to save anything all year.”
Sellers’ South Boston Late Model titles came in 2005, 2014, 2017 and 2018. His first championship, though, came in 2001, in a Limited Sportsman car and it set the stage for the next two decades.
“I was the 2001 Limited track champion at Orange County (Speedway),” recalled Sellers. “That winter Clarence (Pickurel, owner of Clarence’s Steakhouse) called me to drive for him. I was 18. I was the first rookie he put in that car. Danville Toyota was on the car that season (2002), too. Both have come and gone as my career took me in different directions, but both are still on the car now.”
Trey Crews Wins Another Limited Sportsman Championship
Trey Crews expected 2018 to be good for him at South Boston Speedway.
When the final checkered flag flew, though, he was amazed at what he and his team had accomplished in the Limited Sportsman Division. He won eight times in 12 starts, and a sixth was his worst finish of the year. He wound up winning the Limited championship, the second of his career, by almost 50 points.
An offseason alliance to drive for longtime sponsor Steve Stallings and received setup input from veteran NASCAR Camping World Truck Series crew chief Marcus Richmond was the key to the amazing season.
“I came into the year with the deal with Steve helping and Marcus Richmond with his knowledge and engineering, I thought we would be good,” said the 23-year-old Crews. “But to be this good is shocking and humbling.”
Crews, who also won the 2015 Limited title at South Boston, downplays his role in the season’s success.
“With the talent that is at South Boston, it (the championship) means a lot. It says a lot about this team,” said Crews. “With this team I felt like it showed more of what I had the potential to do. I could be more consistent and race for the wins every week.”
“I feel like every week at South Boston we had a top-three car and were competitive for the win every week.”
Daniel Shelton Proves To Be A Quick Learner
Daniel Shelton won only twice in his first season in a race car, but he backed up his two victories with strong finishes, despite a few mechanical woes. He finished sixth in the season-ending race, but that was enough for him to claim the title in the super competitive Pure Stock division, which had five different winners in the last five races.
“It took a little while, but we got a little more comfortable with the car as the season went on,” said Shelton. “That’s the biggest thing … the more comfortable you are, the better you can run.”
Shelton has been around racing most of his life.
“I came to my first race at South Boston when I was three,” he said.
Cameron Jarrell Surprises Himself With Title
Cameron Jarrell just wanted to pick up some experience in his first season in a stock car, but he wound up with a championship.
“When we went into the season, we were expecting to get some seat time and get used to the car,” said Jarrell. “I didn’t think we would win a championship.”
TRACK HISTORY: South Boston Speedway
Jarrell had never turned even a practice lap in his car until the first night of the 2018 season. He was a quick learner. He wound up with seven victories on the season, including five in a row before a second-place finish.
Jarrell, who had raced go-karts the past few years, took a studious route to his success.
“After the first race we went home and studied on how we could keep our line straight. We kept trying to hit our marks lap after lap,” said Jarrell.
“After we won the first couple of races, we thought maybe we could win the championship. We kept trying harder and harder each week and we made it happen somehow.”
Dennis Holdren Nails Down Mod 4 Trophy
Dennis Holdren has raced around the region the past couple of decades in several different divisions, including Late Model Stocks. But his first South Boston Speedway win and his first championship came in the Mod 4 division, new to the track in 2018.
He dominated the season, winning four out of six races on the way to the championship.