Brian Loftin Wins SMART Modified Event at South Boston

The SMART Modified Tour headed to South Boston Va. on Saturday night. The speedway paid tribute to one of the best to ever wheel a modified, Ray Hendrick, in the Flying VA Classic at the South Boston Speedway! Hendrick, who was a many time Modified champion at South Boston would have been 92 had he lived. Bobby Labonte and Matt Hirschman who raced at Richmond made the trip to South Boston in plenty of time and were placed at the tail end of the starting grid.

Brian Loftin started 16th in the 27-car field, pitted for a fresh right rear tire on lap 30 during the event’s stage break, and began his march to the front. It took only four laps after the pit stop for Loftin to work his way into the top five. By lap 54, he was up to third place, and at lap 65 he was up to second place. He surged in front of Caleb Heady on lap 69 right after a restart following a caution period and never looked back. Heady faded as Tom Buzze moved into the runner-up spot and held off Tom Buzze and Burt Myers. Jonathan Cash finished fourth and Joey Coulter rounded out the top five.

Hirschman, who was in his own car, worked his way from the rear and was in position for a possible win and was running in the second spot on lap 87 when something broke causing him to slow and drop out. He was credited with 15th position. Labonte was also on the move before being collected when Bobby Messemer spun after suffering a blow-out. An announced crowd of 10,000 were on hand. There were five lead changes among six drivers with Loftin leading the final circuits. Gerstner led 29 laps. Heady led 24 laps, Ward led the first eight laps of the race, Cash led four laps, and Myers led three laps. The race was slowed by six caution periods.

   It has previously been announced that the speedway is for sale. In a prepared statement, “The Mattioli family has had the honor and privilege of caring for South Boston Speedway for nearly 25 years. During that time, SoBo has transformed into one of the most prestigious, competitive and beautiful short tracks in America.” “The family is determined to only sell the speedway to another great steward, who vows to keep the rich history and tradition of first-class short track racing alive in Halifax County. During this time of exploration, the speedway operations will remain unchanged with a continued commitment to the teams and fans of showcasing the best short track racing in the county.”

Story by Phil Smith

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