On a night designed to celebrate the weekend warriors of short track racing, one of Virginia’s most respected sons made two statements.
He made the first behind the wheel of his Late Model Stock and the other after climbing out in Victory Lane.
Peyton Sellers won the inaugural Grassroots 200 at Langley Speedway on Thursday night, outdueling Josh Berry and Greg Edwards, while surviving several hard crashes that took place all around him throughout the duration of the 200-lap main event.
The race was the hastily-organized replacement for the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown, which came together within a month after the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series namesake pulled the plug on his charity race back in February.
“First off, to God be the glory,” Sellers said in Victory Lane. “Man, it’s amazing, these races are so hard to win, we beat the best in the business tonight. Josh Berry has got his game on right now; those JR Motorsports guys are tough. Phillip came on strong early but had a tough time getting back up there. Man, this is unbelievable, we loaded up the dually yesterday afternoon, just the four of us, came out here and taking the money back to Danville…
And then came the second statement.
“What an unbelievable night of racing,” he said. “Great job by (track owner) Bill Mullis to step up to the plate and put this show on when short track racing was let down by Denny Hamlin not having the Showdown. They stepped up.”
Sellers qualified sixth out of the 16 drivers that took the green flag and spent the majority of the race inside the top-five.
The 2005 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion and reigning South Boston Speedway track champion outlasted the likes of Philip Morris and Josh Berry, who combined to lead the most laps, but prevailed by simply staying out of trouble.
Berry was able to rally to second in the closing laps but had to work there after getting spun for the lead by C.E. Falk on the penultimate lap (158) of the second stage. It occurred deep in lap traffic (specifically Eddie Johnson) when Falk ran into the back of Berry on corner exit and couldn’t get separated from each other.
Berry spun, and the change of direction ripped a shredded a section of sheet metal clear off the Falk car.
Meanwhile, Morris led the first 80 laps but had to pit to correct something under the hood. Morris ran into the back of Thomas Scott on Lap 161, sending him hard into the Turns 3 and 4 retaining wall. And then Falk, trying to work his way back through the field ran into Morris on Lap 180.
Sellers struggled to fire off on the final restart with 20 to go but eventually cleared Greg Edwards, with Berry passing both Mark Wertz and Edwards to get within reach of the leader before running out of time.
It was the second overall win of the season for Sellers, who won the controversial second Twin 75 at South Boston on March 30 after the Lee Pulliam – Philip Morris incident.
And for Berry, it was a successful night that ended up at Langley on a whim, and featured an impressive comeback to earn the runner-up spot.
Sellers collected $7500 for his winning efforts.
The complete results of the Grassroots 200 can be found below.
- #26 Peyton Sellers; 200
- #88 Josh Berry; 200
- #21 Greg Edwards; 200
- #55 Mark Wertz; 200
- #02 CE Falk; 200
- #91 Justin S. Carroll; 200
- #57 Justin T. Carroll; 200
- #90 Terry Carroll; 200
- #26 Danny Edwards Jr.; 200
- #57 Eddie Johnson; 198
- #71 Rick Gdovic; 197
- #10 Maddy Mulligan; 192
- #01 Philip Morris; 177
- #8 Thomas Scott; 161
- #03 Brenden Queen; 160
- #88 Thomas Marks; 19