Five SMS races Friday

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Special to the News-Herald

CAPRON – Five feature events are slated for this Friday, April 16, as Southampton Motor Speedway continues its 2004 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series campaign.

Pit gates open at 3 p.m. Front gates open and practice rounds begin at 4:30. Qualifying gets under way at 6:40 and the first feature race goes green at 8.

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Friday’s lineup includes: Budweiser Late Model Stock Cars (150 laps); Mike Duman Auto Sales Limited Late Models (50 laps); Gontarek Family Eye Care U-Cars (25 laps); Hillco Building Maintenance Super Fours (25 laps); and, Woodfin Mid-Atlantic Champ Karts (20 laps).

Tickets are $12 for adults and $4 for youths, 6-12. Children under 6 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Active-duty military (with ID), senior citizens (65+) and teens (13-19) receive a $2 discount off the adult admission price.

Beginning this Friday, SMS will invert the top three, five or seven qualifiers in the starting lineups for each of the evening’s feature contests. The exact number of cars to be inverted will be determined by a post-qualifying draw.

In most circles, Denny Hamlin of Chesterfield, and Timothy Peters of Providence, N.C., who finished first and second in last Friday’s Late Model Stock Car feature, would be labeled &uot;Young Guns,&uot; &uot;Young Lions&uot; or something along those lines. Both Hamlin and Peters are 23 years old.

They’re virtual graybeards, though, compared to two youngsters who made their Late Model debuts in last Friday’s race – C.E. Falk of Virginia Beach, and Travis Miller of Chesapeake.

Falk and Miller, both 16 years old and veterans of the INEX Legends circuit, turned in solid performances in their first Late Model outings, coming home sixth and seventh, respectively. Both were on the lead lap at the end of the race.

SMS’s &uot;youth movement&uot; also extends to the announcer’s booth as Russ Wiles moved behind the mike, taking over for Neal Steele, the long-time &uot;Voice of Southampton Motor Speedway.&uot;

For Wiles, a 16-year-old 10th-grader at Midlothian High School, the Friday night gig at SMS is the first stop of his busy racing weekends. He is the Victory Lane announcer at Hampton’s Langley Speedway on Saturday nights and flags for Hampton Roads Kart Club events at Langley on Sundays.

Believed to be the youngest NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series announcer in the country, Wiles knows that he’s got big shoes to fill at SMS.

&uot;I’m very honored to have taken Neal Steele’s place, but I also know that he was, and still is, an awesome announcer,&uot; he said. &uot;I just hope that, one day, someone says, ‘Wow! You replaced Russ Wiles.’&uot;

Mark McFarland, the SMS Late Model champ and NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national champ in ’03, is slated to make his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start of the season this Saturday at Martinsville Speedway. He’ll be wheeling the #59 Harris Trucking Dodge.

Current plans call for McFarland to run a minimum of 10 races for the Harris Trucking team, although, according to crew chief Greg Conner, the deal could be extended to the remainder of the season.

In addition to his Craftsman Truck Series efforts, McFarland is scheduled to appear in three NASCAR Busch Series events – Richmond International Raceway May 14, Lowe’s Motor Speedway May 29 and Dover International Speedway on June 5.

Now in its fifth season under the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series banner, Southampton Motor Speedway is a 4/10-mile, paved tri-oval, similar in configuration to Richmond International Raceway. The track is located on U.S. Highway 58, one mile west of Capron and 17 miles east of I-95 (Emporia exit).

To learn more about SMS, fans may call the Speedway office at (434) 658-RACE or visit the track’s Web site at