It’s not the Myrtle Beach 400, but honestly, the South Carolina 400 is becoming something better.
Unpopular opinion, probably, but the current Florence Motor Speedway is the most dynamic short track that hosts Late Model Stock Cars in the region right now.
The surface on the tiny Pee Dee River area bullring probably needs some patchwork based on what was happening in Turn 3, but here is hoping a repave won’t become necessary in the way it did for Tri-County because the racing is so good right now.
It’s pound-for-pound the best short track race in the country right now, which is also probably an unpopular opinion.
Sure, the first half was extremely messy on Saturday night, but most of those crashes can be attributed to one very young, pretty talented, but overly eager youngster. That’s to say the racing wasn’t even that bad when you granularly isolate why.
The extra 50 laps added to the race this year, and most importantly, the extra set of tires that it required probably wasn’t necessary given the purse actually decreased from last year but those are nitpicky things.
The racing was really good on Saturday night, and if you don’t believe the assertion, take it from Dale Jr. and Josh Berry.
“Some guys were running the top, some on the bottom, and what a great race track,” Earnhardt said after the race. “You know, just a lot of different grooves. I know some guys don’t love the tire saving part, but honestly man, I ran 85 percent at a minimum tonight. We were running pretty hard. I don’t think I could have run faster if I tried harder.
“It’s kind of a chess match. You don’t know if you’re saving enough, and you don’t know if you’re saving more or less than the next guy and it’s kind of fun.”
It’s one of Berry’s favorites too.
“This track is so much fun,” he said. “I had a ball.”
Give a ton of credit to promoter Steve Zacharias, for a lot of reasons, because he got beat up last year for trying to cram every division into one night and kept fans out late in the near freezing cold as a result. He got better weather this year but split the card into two nights, and even with a messy street stock race and the first half of the Late Model Stock race, it was still a pretty condensed show.
Zacharias deserves a lot of credit for what is being done to the track.
Every time we collectively as an industry come back, be it for the Icebreaker, 400 or a CARS Tour race, something gets cleaned up or renovated. And, as Earnhardt pointed out on Friday night, he is doing it without government help as is the case for numerous North Carolina tracks.
Again, this isn’t the Myrtle Beach 400, but goodness if I, personally speaking, do not enjoy this more.
Earnhardt has a lot to do with that too the past two years.
The whole racing world has given Earnhardt his flowers the past half-decade for what he is doing as the curator of the history of the sport, and its most vocal ambassador, but there isn’t enough said for what he is doing beyond NASCAR.
His co-ownership of the CARS Tour, operating a team, helping launch Berry to the Cup Series and then his participation in events at tracks like Florence and North Wilkesboro is creating a ton of interest for the discipline.
It’s measurable, the ways in which NASCAR only fans tuned in over the weekend, but then were introduced to Brenden Queen, Kaden Honeycutt, Kade Brown or even a Boo Boo Dalton.
Earnhardt is so dang gracious with his time at these events, knowing damn well is going to get swarmed and pressed for autographs and photographs, and offers as much of himself on these weekends as he can. It’s similar to what Kyle Larson is doing on the dirt track side, giving so much of their time and social bandwidth, for the growth of a discipline they care about.
He doesn’t need the validation from this website, but the words are being printed, because it’s worth recognizing publicly the difference he makes for growing short track racing in very profoundly positive ways over the past four years.
The disciplines expresses its full gratitude.
Kade Brown and Matt Piercy Racing winning the past two weeks in the Hickory Fall Brawl and South Carolina 400 is a really good story that deserves to be a great story.
It’s so hard to know what to make of it.
On one hand, beating head-to-head, a Kevin Harvick program that has the likes of Rodney Childers and Josh Berry behind it is no small feat even if there is any kind of technical malpractice taking place at Hickory.
Kade is a really professional, affable young driver that isn’t doing a ton wrong behind the wheel. There has been moments of rawness throughout the season at the Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars this past calendar year but there is a ton of potential here to mold.
It’s just a shame, be it fair or unfair, that every win gets dissected and beat up on this website’s comments section on Facebook with every win and championship.
Say what you will about the current state of tech at Hickory but you don’t accident your way into a top-10 in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville. Several teams were skeptical about the capability of tech at Florence on Saturday too but all of this is to say that Matt Piercy has a really good car and he has a really good development driver in Brown.
It’s unfortunate, again whether its fair or unfair, that every win gets scrutinized endlessly when winning against the likes of Kevin Harvick Inc., Lee Pulliam Performance, JR Motorsports and R&S Race Cars is as awesome as it gets for a race team.
What a downright refreshing exchange last night between Kaden Honeycutt and Kade Brown.
This website spotlights so much drama in short track racing that it’s just really nice to see two dudes say, ‘yeah, I moved you’ and ‘yeah, I moved you back,’ and it be a totally respectable thing.
Kaden Honeycutt approaches Kade Brown and has a really cool exchange
Also Kade on those last couple restarts and proving something away from Hickory pic.twitter.com/7x0dPUyzeo
— Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverRA) November 19, 2023
I’ll put this bluntly, if you can’t afford to race in something other than jeans, you can’t afford to race.
Jeans have a negative SFI and TPP rating.
The one slight on the track is that Street Stock winner Bobbie Tumbleson and Florence warrants a fine in the mail on Monday morning from NASCAR, which sanctions Florence Motor Speedway, over a blatant, unacceptable safety violation.