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Peyton Sellers picked the perfect time to have the worst night of the 2017 season at South Boston Speedway.

Sellers finished 12th in Saturday night’s Late Model Stock season finale, his only finish out of the top 5 since he was 11th in the season opener. No worries though. Sellers had clinched the 2017 Late Model track championship before the green flag waved Saturday.

“It took a lot of pressure off of me,” Sellers said of the insurmountable points lead going into the race. “Not that I gave it any less effort. We worked hard and drove hard.”

Sellers’ Toyota developed an engine problem early, but he soldiered on, albeit a cylinder down.

“We had run flawlessly all season and then (Saturday) we were down a cylinder all night,” Sellers said. “We didn’t have a bad race all season and when the pressure was off, we had a bad race.”

It was Sellers’ third South Boston track championship. The first came in 2005; the second in 2014. He raced in the Xfinity Series in 2015, but returned to South Boston on a regular basis in 2016 and finished second to champion Matt Bowling.

Sellers spent most of the years between 2005 and 2015 competing in national touring series. He raced the full K&N West Pro Series in 2006 and the full K&N East Pro Series in 2007 and 2008. In the past few years he has almost 30 Xfinity Series starts and a handful of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races to his credit.

“We ran for the championship at South Boston in 2005 and not again until 2010 or 2011. We’ve only competed for the championship about seven times, won three and finished second twice,” said Sellers.

While Sellers won the 2017 championship by a large margin over Bobby McCarty, scored three victories and was out of the top five only twice, he wasn’t totally pleased with his season-long performance.

“Our performance every week was OK, but we could never get hot,” said Sellers, who also won three races at Dominion Raceway this season. “We just couldn’t put that hot streak of wins together winning week after week.”

With age … Sellers will be 34 next month … comes maturity, and that he says, is the biggest difference between his first championship run in 2005 and the latest one.

“:I’ve settled down quite a bit. I know my critics wouldn’t say that, but I used to drive by the seat of my pants,” said Sellers. “Back then when I was racing against Philip (Morris) and Timothy (Peters) and Woody Howard, I was driving totally by the seat of my pants. Then I saw how they handled stuff and I learned to walk away from situations. Not that I haven’t had my share of showing my temper; I have. But I know now it doesn’t accomplish anything.”

Unless he gets a much better offer to hit the road with a national series again, expect Sellers to be back to defend his title in 2018.

“I don’t have a reason to come back and race for it. I enjoy racing at home every week,” he said. “I can cut my grass on Saturday morning before coming to the track and I can go to church on Sunday morning.”

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