The first engine has not been cranked and the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 is already living up to its reputation as the biggest NASCAR Late Model Stock car race in the nation.
By 5 p.m. Friday, over 85 race teams had loaded into the infield at Martinsville Speedway in preparation for Sunday's Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300. That number was expected to top 90 by Saturday morning.
Saturday will be a full day for teams and NASCAR officials, with cars beginning technical inspection at 6:30 a.m. and practice starting at 1 p.m. Race-day action will begin at noon on Sunday.
The race, which pays $25,000 to win, not only has attracted the top drivers from Virginia and the Carolinas, but from a dozen different states, including Montana and Oklahoma. The award for greatest distance traveled, though, goes to Brodie Kostecki from Perth, Australia.
Several former winners are entered in the field including three-time winner Philip Morris, who won last year, two-time defending national champion Lee Pulliam, who captured the event in 2012, Timothy Peters, Dennis Setzer and Alex Yontz.
TRIPLE CROWN ON LINE: Danville's Peyton Sellers seems to be in the driver's seat in the battle for the 2013 Virginia Late Model Triple Crown championship, a season-long battle for bragging rights in the Commonwealth and a $5,000 payout to the winner. The second-place finisher will claim $3,000 and third will pay $1,500.
Three races make up the Triple Crown: the Fourth of July race at South Boston Speedway, the Hampton Heat 200 at Langley Speedway in mid-summer and this weekend's Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300. Points are awarded to drivers in each event based on their finish.
Sellers comes into this weekend's Triple Crown finale with a 25-point lead over Peters and a 34-point lead over Pulliam. Sellers won the Langley event while Pulliam won at South Boston.
The $25,000 first-place money for the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 is the biggest in NASCAR Late Model racing, but it could be a much, much bigger payoff if the race winner captures the Triple Crown, wins the Sparks Sunoco Qualifying Award, which pays $1,000, and wins the $2,000 Clarence's Steakhouse half-way award. That would mean a whopping $33,000 payday, the biggest ever for a Late Model winner at Martinsville. That record is currently held by David Hyder, who pocketed $27,000 in 1997 when he won the race and the pole award.
THE SCHEDULE: Action kicks off for the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 on Saturday with inspection beginning at 6:30 a.m. Cars will begin practice at 1 p.m. Speeds from the final hour of practice, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., will be used to set the fields for Sunday's heat races.
There will be an autograph session on the front stretch at 10 a.m. Sunday.
The first of the four 20-lap heat races begin at 12 noon on Sunday followed by the 20-lap last chance race. The 200-lap feature should begin around 3:30 p.m.
Tickets are only $25 with youth 12 and under admitted free.