Fast Thoughts for Aug. 16: Ben Wallace gets a taste of NASCAR; Repko sweeps at South Boston
1 Ben Wallace takes a turn behind the wheel at Michigan International Speedway. The former Virginia Union standout drove the pace car Sunday at the track an hour from where he made his name as a four-time NBA defensive player of the year. Tweeted Wallace after the race: “Amazing experience today at the #ConsumerEnergy400. Cruising that red Camaro to start the race is something I’ll never forget. Thanks to the folks at @MISpeedway and @NASCAR for having me out! Congrats to @KevinHarvick on the W!” Wallace is part-owner of the Grand Rapids Drive, the Detroit Pistons’ G League affiliate.
2 Here’s hoping Elliott Sadler caps his NASCAR career with an elusive series championship. The Emporia native announced Wednesday this will be his final full season in NASCAR, and he’s safely inside the field for the 12-driver Xfinity playoffs. It only seems like yesterday that Sadler shocked everyone by taking the Wood Brothers to victory lane at Bristol Motor Speedway in April 2001. (Just how surprising was the win? Sadler started 38th, and it was the Wood Brothers’ only Cup victory from April 1993 through the end of the 2010 season.) Unfortunately, Sadler’s Cup career eventually stalled with a move to Robert Yates Racing. He went from a two-time winner in 2004 to nonrelevance two years later as Yates fell behind Roush Fenway Racing and the other mega-teams of that era. Regardless, he’s made a living in the sport he loves into his 40s, competing full time in NASCAR’s second-tier series since 2011. And after finishing second in the points four times in the past seven years, maybe this year’s finale at Homestead finally will roll his way.
3 Local spotlight: Ryan Repko of Clemson, S.C., was awarded a pair of 75-lap Late Model victories at South Boston Speedway after the car of 16-year-old Corey Heim of Georgia failed postrace inspection. Track officials ruled “questionable toe was discovered in the rear axle housing tubes” of Heim’s car, and Repko outran a field that included former national champions Peyton Sellers and Philip Morris. The other big winner at the track was Bubba Pollard, who took the 150-lap PASS Super Late Model feature. The Senoia, Ga., driver now has a guaranteed spot in the Oxford (Maine) 250, where more than 50 drivers are entered in the Aug. 26 race boasting a $25,000 first prize. ... Chris Hopkins pulled off another double at Southside Speedway, claiming victories in the 40-lap Late Model and 30-lap Modified races. ... Mike Lerass won the 25-lap Virginia Sprint Car race at Shenandoah Speedway. ... Tyler Arrington of Honaker won the Late Model feature at Wythe Raceway. ... The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship stops at Virginia International Raceway, with approximately 40,000 people expected at the track this weekend. The Michelin GT Challenge is the headline event, with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam serving as grand marshal Sunday. Visit virnow.com for more information.