- Last Updated on 08:11 AM 02/20/13
- BY Joe Chandler
It took four seasons of racing in the Modified Division, but Hunter Slayton finally reached the top at South Boston Speedway last season.
Slayton, a Richmond resident with family ties to South Boston, won the 2012 MAD Modified (Modified Affordable Division) title at South Boston Speedway, and with it claimed his first career track title in the division.
“Winning the championship at South Boston Speedway means a lot to me from the standpoint that my family is from South Boston,” said Slayton, the grandson of late South Boston resident Louise Slayton.
“I wish my grandmother was still alive to see me win races and be a champion at South Boston Speedway since that is where she is from.”
The 2012 season was the first season the MAD Modified Division was one of the feature racing divisions at South Boston Speedway, and Slayton made the most of it.
Slayton won six of his eight starts, logged six top-five finishes and finished in the top ten in every start. In addition, he won the most poles in the division (three) and led the most laps during the season.
In short, it was a banner season.
“I really don’t know how to describe how winning the championship makes me feel,” Slayton remarked.
“Of all of the tracks I have raced at, South Boston Speedway is the one track I can call my favorite track. It has a lot of history and a lot of great drivers have raced there. This really means a lot to me. I’m proud of everybody on the team and I thank everybody for all they did to help to make this possible.”
Slayton pointed out some people had made remarks about him not having much competition to overcome enroute to winning the championship.
“People were saying I didn’t have a lot of competition at South Boston Speedway,” Slayton explained.
“When we went to Langley Speedway and Southern National Speedway with the same group of cars, every one of these cars was running in the top three at all three tracks. We had a top-three car when we went to Langley and Southern National.
“That made me feel a lot better because I was starting to doubt the level of the competition a little bit,” he continued.
“I was wondering if I was over-estimating everything.”
One of the keys to Slayton’s success was hard work and a desire to do what he needed to do to stay on top of things.
“It was going out in the garage every night and working on the car,” he pointed out.
“I felt like if I went out there and did a little something, even if it wasn’t but for 30 minutes a night, it made me feel like I had the right attitude and right drive. It gave me a positive attitude about going to the track every week and feeling like I could win.”
Experience also paid big dividends for Slayton.
“I felt like we had come a long way, and we finally found a few (chassis) setup tricks that were working,” Slayton said.
“Every driver has a different driving style. I felt like I finally got the right group of people to work on the car, people that could take my feedback and get everything to work to where I was comfortable and could drive the car.”
Winning the opening twin-race event for the MAD Modifieds gave Slayton a healthy dose of confidence and a solid foundation from which to launch his title run.
“Going into the season I felt we had a real good chance of winning some races,” Slayton noted.
“We won the twin races the first night. That was a very big confidence booster. I feel like confidence has a lot to do with winning races.”
Slayton won the first six races in the division, but said he never felt that he had everybody covered.
“I felt I had a good chance to win,” he pointed out, “but I never get the attitude that I feel that I’m better than everybody. I never got to a point where I felt I was better than everybody and didn’t have to worry about anybody.
“There are so many things somebody can do to be right there with you. You never know what somebody is going to bring to the track the next weekend.”
Slayton said at the South Boston Speedway NASCAR Awards Banquet in January that his focus this season is going to be on repeating his Modified championship at South Boston Speedway.
“We’re going to be 100-percent focused on South Boston Speedway and trying to win the championship again,” he said.
“At the last race at South Boston the car got torn up really bad. Hopefully, we will have everything fixed back up to where it will run the way it did last year.
“We will also be racing on a different tire this year than we were on last year,” he added.
“That will change the (chassis) setup some. Still, I feel we will be a good competitor.”