- Last Updated on 04:27 PM 01/30/14
- BY Joe Chandler
The country’s most celebrity-laden Late Model Stock Car race is coming to South Boston Speedway.
An all-star cast of drivers including several NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars will compete in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown on Thursday night, April 24 at South Boston Speedway.
The event, a prelude for the weekend NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Richmond International Speedway, will feature a super-competitive field of drivers racing for pride and to raise awareness and funding for the Denny Hamlin Foundation, which supports and funds Cystic Fibrosis research and new therapies in the region.
“Words can’t express how happy we are to have this opportunity to host the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown here at South Boston Speedway,” said South Boston Speedway General manager Cathy Rice.
“Knowing that this is all about the children and the Denny Hamlin Foundation which supports Cystic Fibrosis research makes this even more exciting. Everybody here is on Cloud Nine.”
The April 24 Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown will be the biggest and most prestigious event of the season at South Boston Speedway.
“This will have a real impact on our community to have NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars here competing on a short track,” Rice pointed out.
“Our July 3 race has always been our largest event. I’m looking for this to be much larger than that. It’s great for our fans that they can come out to a short track and see some good short track racing with the Sprint Cup Series drivers and our area Late Model drivers.”
Tickets for the April 24 Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown are on sale at the speedway office. Advance adult general admission tickets are priced at $20 each and advance tickets for youth ages 12-17 are priced at $10. On race day, adult general admission tickets will be $25 each and youth tickets will be priced at $15. Children ages 11 and under will be admitted free with an adult ticket purchase. South Boston Speedway 2014 season passes will not be honored at this event.
“I encourage everyone to get the advance tickets,” Rice remarked.
“Since the release about the event has gone out, the phones have started ringing with people asking questions and wanting tickets.
“We’ve tried to make the ticket prices affordable,” added Rice.
“We feel that’s a good price for fans to come out and see the Sprint Cup drivers that will be participating in the event. Season passes will not be honored for this event because this is a special charity event to benefit the Denny Hamlin Foundation.”
Hamlin, who won a season-high seven NASCAR Late Model Stock Car Division races at South Boston Speedway in 2004 and has nine career wins in the NASCAR Late Model Stock Car Division at South Boston Speedway, says he is excited about the event moving to South Boston Speedway.
“Moving the race to South Boston Speedway makes it a new challenge for the drivers and brings back a bit of NASCAR nostalgia for the fans and media,” said Hamlin, who last raced at South Boston in 2004.
“Based on the interest and feedback I’ve heard, I expect the all-star line-up to be better than any we’ve had in our six-year history of the event.”
Rice said she is looking forward to having Hamlin return to competition at South Boston Speedway in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown.
“For Denny to come back home and compete with the guys here is awesome,” Rice remarked.
“It’s going to be a real thrill for him and the other drivers as well.”
Rice said she and speedway officials are still working on ironing out the details for the event.
“We’ve nailed down the date,” Rice noted yesterday, “but we haven’t nailed down who the participating drivers will be. As far as running any other divisions with it, I don’t foresee us doing it, but we haven’t nailed down all of the details yet.”
Rice said she does not foresee the event being a South Boston Speedway points race. While the time of the race has not yet been set, Rice said she feels that the race day schedule for the event will be pretty close to that of the track’s regular night races.
“We haven’t started on the (race day) schedule yet, but my feeling is that we would try to stick to pretty much the same times,” Rice said.
“Being that the event is on a Thursday night, we want to give fans time to get home from work and be able to get here to see a great show.”
While the driver lineup will be announced closer to the event, Hamlin expects last year’s winner, Kyle Busch, Hamlin’s teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, to be the first in line since he is the event’s only multiple winner.
Hamlin, Tony Stewart, and C.E. Falk have also won the prestigious race. Falk’s thrilling victory in 2010 at Southside Speedway in Richmond makes him the only non-Sprint Cup Series driver to win the event. Falk passed Hamlin on the final lap and then held off a hard-charging Stewart to take what Falk described as the biggest win of his career.
The Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown was held for the first time in 2008 at Richmond’s Southside Speedway, a local short track near Hamlin’s hometown of Chesterfield. In 2011, the event was moved to Richmond International Raceway as a co-feature event with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and was held there through the 2013 season.
With the addition of the April 24 Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown to the schedule, the month of April becomes even busier at the .4-mile track. South Boston Speedway will host the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and the region’s NASCAR Whelen All American Series Late Model Stock Car Division drivers and teams for a special event on April 5. On Saturday, April 12, the track will host a concert featuring Tuesday’s Gone with special guests The Konnection Band and Matt Boswell & The Hillbilly Blues Band. Then, on Saturday, April 19, racing returns with the Charles Anderson Lawn care presents Italian Delight Family Restaurant NASCAR Late Model 150 racing program.
“April is going to be a busy month,” Rice noted, “and we’re excited about that.”