Mike Looney has enjoyed a good amount of success at South Boston Speedway in recent seasons. Over the past three seasons he has earned two wins, a pole win, 12 Top-Five finishes and 15 Top-10 finishes in a total of 20 starts at the .4-mile oval.
The Catawba, Virginia resident will return to South Boston Speedway Saturday, March 18 to compete in the twin 75-lap races for the Sentara Healthcare Late Model Stock Car Division that headline track’s season-opening event, the Danville Toyota ’23 Opener. That event, which begins at 2 p.m., will mark the beginning of the 40th year of Late Model Stock Car Division racing at South Boston Speedway.
“I love racing here at South Boston Speedway,” Looney said while taking a break during last Saturday’s pre-season testing day at the historic speedway.
“I’m positive this is the best weekly competition of any NASCAR track in the southeast. You’ve got to come where the best is, measure up, and make yourself better. I feel like we will have a strong field of cars here Saturday.”
While the 2019 NASCAR national runner-up has had a good deal of success at South Boston Speedway, Looney said he is still learning the best ways to get around the fast .4-mile oval.
“I’m still working on my craft here,” he pointed out.
“I’m trying to follow Peyton Sellers and some of the veterans down here to learn their little tricks. I pick up something every time I follow them.”
Looney likes South Boston Speedway’s racing surface.
“South Boston Speedway has great pavement,” Looney remarked.
“I’m not a big fan of riding around saving tires like you have to at some of the really abrasive racetracks. I don’t know why we run 200 laps at those kinds of tracks when your tires are only good for 30 laps. You can probably run 90 percent or better the whole night here at South Boston, and that suits my style.”
Looney has become popular among fans attending events at South Boston Speedway. The veteran driver is very appreciative of the support.
“We really like the people down here,” Looney remarked.
“I have a lot of fans down here and they are very supportive. The grandstands are so close to the fence I can hear them. I can hear them yelling and carrying on and see them shake the fence. It’s great to be appreciated, and you can feed off that energy back and forth. South Boston Speedway is just the place to be.”
Looney and Martin head into the 2023 season looking to improve upon what Looney called a “down” season in 2022 in which he won eight races.
“I guess I’m getting spoiled if winning eight races is a bad year,” Looney said.
“It was feast or famine. We kind of look at it as not a good year. What hurts the most about last year is the races we lost, the ones that got away. We had a chance at winning some really big races. We were leading a couple of CARS Tour races and got taken out. I felt I had the best car at Martinsville, and circumstances at the end of the race relegated us back to fourth. It stings losing those big ones.”
“We hold ourselves to a high standard,” he continued.
“We work really hard at it. Personally, for me and our mechanics, anything less than winning is not good enough. We strive to be better very week we go to the track.
“It’s a blessing to be able to drive for Billy Martin,” Looney added, “and we’re blessed with our sponsors and partners. We’re fortunate to have good equipment, good cars, good engines and can be competitive everywhere. We don’t have a huge budget and all of the fancy tools, but we do have what’s important. Billy Martin’s given me all the tools I need to be successful.”
Six races are on tap for the Saturday, March 18 Danville Toyota ’23 Opener. Twin 75-lap races for the Sentara Healthcare Late Model Stock Car Division will headline the event, which will also include twin 30-lap races for the Budweiser Limited Sportsman Division, a 25-lap race for the Southside Disposal Pure Stock Division and a 20-lap race for the Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division.
Saturday will be Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at South Boston Speedway. The Virginia State Police HEAT (Help Eliminate Auto Theft) Program is scheduled to have a display of special vehicles behind the speedway’s main frontstretch grandstand.
Advance adult general admission tickets are priced at $12 each and may be purchased online on South Boston Speedway’s website, www.southbostonspeedway.com or by calling the speedway office at 434-572-4947 or toll free at 1-877-440-1540 during regular business hours.
Tickets at the gate on race day will be $15 each. Seniors ages 65 and older, military, healthcare workers, and students (with ID) can purchase tickets for $12 each at the gate on race day.
Competitor registration and the infield pit area will open at 9 a.m. Spectator gates will open at 12:30 p.m., qualifying begins at 1 p.m. and the first race will get the green flag at 2 p.m.
Fans and competitors can find the latest news and updates from South Boston Speedway on the speedway’s website and through the track’s social media channels. Information may also be obtained by phoning the speedway during regular business hours.