- Last Updated on 07:26 AM 04/23/14
- BY Joe Chandler
To say Denny Hamlin has a high level of motivation for Thursday night’s Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at South Boston Speedway would be a vast understatement.
Hamlin is bringing his charity fund-raising event to South Boston Speedway, a track at which he saw a great deal of success during his days of racing NASCAR Late Model Stock Cars on the short tracks of Virginia.
And, he is teaming up once again with veteran car builder Greg Marlowe, with whom he has seen success.
“I’ll be as motivated as anybody,” Hamlin said.
“You always want to run well, especially at your event. South Boston Speedway is a track I’ve had a lot of success at and won a lot of races at. When you go back, you kind of want to save face – you want to show you’ve still got it.”
With Marlowe, Hamlin scored his lone victory in the all-star showcase event. Hamlin feels they will have a good combination for the 200-lap Late Model Stock Car event that pays $10,000 to win.
“He (Marlowe) won with Tony (Stewart) the year after I won,” Hamlin pointed out.
“He’s really been great to us, and I had a lot of fun working with him and his guys. Of course, I will have my old team guys from 10 to 12 years ago pitting my car as well. It will be fun to see them again, and go to the racetrack and do the old school sign-in stuff you used to do.”
Hamlin, who has 23 wins and 17 poles in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition and won this year’s Sprint Unlimited at Daytona, has nine career wins at South Boston Speedway. His seven wins at South Boston Speedway during the 2004 season was the most wins in the Late Model Stock Car Division at the track that season.
Even though it has been a number of years since Hamlin has last competed at the track, South Boston Speedway still has a place in his heart.
“I really love the racetrack,” Hamlin said, “really all of the short tracks. South Boston Speedway has been around a long time and it’s one of the greatest tracks, The staff there has done a great job of keeping that facility really nice over the years, and they still have some touring series events there.
“You can move around,” continued Hamlin.
“I’ve seen a few guys run the top groove there and be successful. I’ve seen guys go around on the apron. It’s fun.”
Hamlin said bringing the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown to a true short track like South Boston Speedway levels the playing field between the top NASCAR stars and the Late Model Stock Car Division regulars.
“It definitely levels that playing field from the Cup guys and the cars they bring versus the local guys,” Hamlin pointed out.
“The local guys probably will be the ones to beat. They’ve been tuning their setups for months and years and we haven’t been there in a long time.”
Hamlin figures it will take a full day of work to get to the same competitive posture that the South Boston Speedway “regulars” have.
“We’ll probably go and test one day before the event to try to get close and get in the ballpark,” said Hamlin.
“Marlowe and those guys will have something that is pretty close, so it will be up to me to go there and be competitive.”
Hamlin pointed out that the competition level will be very high as he and the other top NASCAR stars take on the likes of two-time defending NASCAR Whelen All American Series national champion Lee Pulliam, former national champion Peyton Sellers and the other top Late Model Stock Car drivers.
“They’re good at what they do,” Hamlin said of the top Late Model competitors.
“They travel and win races, so they’re not One-Track Jacks.
“It’s been impressive watching them,” he continued.
“I still keep up with who is doing well on the local short track scene. What Lee (Pulliam) has done has been super impressive. Phillip (Morris) over the years has been amazing. Those are the guys you have a stopwatch on every time they go on the racetrack.”