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South Boston Speedway opens season Saturday

Months of waiting by both competitors and racing fans for the start of South Boston Speedway’s 2012 racing season is about to end. South Boston Speedway will open its season this weekend, featuring it’s longest and richest NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car Division event of the season, the NASCAR Whelen Late Model 300 presented by Danville Toyota.

The highlight of the weekend will be a 300-lap, 120-mile NASCAR Late Model Stock Car Division race that is slated to get the green flag Saturday at 2 p.m.

Saturday’s race winner will net a $10,000 payday and will take the early lead in the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown Series.

The Virginia Late Model Triple Crown also includes a July 28 event at Langley Speedway and the October Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 300 at Martinsville Speedway.

The driver who accumulates the most points in the three races will receive a $5,000 bonus, with payouts of $3,000 and $2,000 for the second-place and third-place drivers respectively.

“The excitement about the NASCAR Whelen Late Model 300 presented by Danville Toyota has been building for months,” South Boston Speedway General Manager Cathy Rice said.

“The competitors are excited about having this race at the start of the season and our fans can’t wait for the action they will see on Saturday.”

The NASCAR Whelen Late Model 300 presented by Danville Toyota has served as the last race of the season at South Boston Speedway for the past several years. Track officials chose to move the event to start the season this year, creating a Daytona-like atmosphere for the region’s top NASCAR Late Model Stock Car Division drivers and teams.

Advance tickets, priced at $10 for adults, will be available for purchase at the speedway office until 5 p.m. Friday. Adult tickets on Saturday will be priced at $15.

Among the top drivers entered in this weekend’s NASCAR Whelen Late Model 300 presented by Danville Toyota is defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion and South Boston Speedway Champion Philip Morris of Ruckersville.

Morris, who has won this event four times, including three of the past four, will face a lot of stiff competition this weekend, with drivers such as C.E. Falk of Virginia Beach, South Boston area drivers Bruce Anderson and Austin Thaxton, and Dennis Holdren of Roanoke, who is expected to debut the car he purchased from veteran racer Stacy Puryear during the off-season.

Former winners of this event Frank Deiny Jr. and Eddie Johnson Dustin Storm of Huntingtown, Md., Darrell Gilchrist of Raleigh, N.C., Ronald Hill of Rougemont, N.C., Derrick Lancaster of Christiansburg, Dude Gibbs of Yorktown and Ryan Robertson of Winston-Salem, N.C. are also among the entrants.

As a result of last Saturday’s annual open practice day being rained out, South Boston Speedway officials will hold an open practice for Late Model Stock Car teams only on Thursday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Registration and pit gates will open Thursday at 9 a.m.

Official activity surrounding the NASCAR Whelen Late Model 300 presented by Danville Toyota will kick off Friday with practice from 12:45 p.m. until 2:45 p.m. Qualifying time trials to determine the top 15 starting positions for Saturday’s 300-lap feature race will be held Friday at 4 p.m.

Grandstands will open Saturday at 11 a.m., with a series of 25-lap qualifying races to fill out the remainder of the starting field scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m.

A Fan Appreciation event will be held after the qualifying heat races. The 300-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car Division race is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Saturday’s event will be the first of a total of 17 events scheduled at America’s Hometown Track in 2012. Season tickets for all of the exciting action in the upcoming season are on sale and are priced at $150.