Teams get jump start on 2023 with offseason testing
Published 2:00 pm Thursday, December 29, 2022
By Joe Chandler
South Boston Speedway
It has not been very long since the 2022 season at South Boston Speedway concluded, but drivers and race teams are already gearing up for the start of the 2023 season.
South Boston native Stacy Puryear and John Goin of Brunswick, both of whom will be competing in the Sentara Healthcare Late Model Stock Car Division next season, 2022 South Boston Speedway Budweiser Limited Sportsman. Division Champion Kyle Barnes of Draper, teenager Zach Peregoy of Clarksville, who earned a top-five finish in the Budweiser Limited Sportsman Division point standings, and South Carolina resident Dusty Garus tested at South Boston Speedway December 12-13 to get a jump start on preparations for the 2023 season.
Puryear, who tested on Tuesday, said it was important for him to get in some test time on the .4-mile oval.
“We built a new car for the 2021 Martinsville race, and we have had an issue with this car from Day One,” Puryear said. “We have run well with it, but we’re trying some things to get better. The car has been extremely fast, but it doesn’t have the longevity in it that I need to win races. We’re a little bit off and we need to get better.”
Puryear, who had a pair of Top-10 finishes in four starts at South Boston Speedway in 2022 with a best finish of sixth-place, pointed out he needs to have better performances at his hometown track.
“South Boston Speedway has been my achilles heel,” Puryear said. “I’m frustrated with the performance that we have had at South Boston Speedway. I know we need to be better here. This is where we want to race. South Boston Speedway is home for me and we want to run well here.
“I never thought Late Model Stock Car racing would reach the pinnacle it is right now,” Puryear continued. “There are so many good cars and so much money involved in the sport now. Late Model Stock Car racing is now probably where the Busch Grand National Series and Hooters Pro Cup Series were. You’ve got to be on your game. You cannot say ‘okay, we’re good enough.’ If you do, you’re not going to win races.”
Goin, who had one Top-5 finish and four Top-10 finishes in nine starts at South Boston Speedway in 2022, was also looking to improve the performance of his car.
“I wish our season here at South Boston Speedway was better than it was,” Goin remarked. “I’m trying to get more consistency out of myself and the car.”
Barnes, who won eight of the season’s 13 Budweiser Limited Sportsman Division races on the way to winning the division title and the division’s Most Popular Driver Award, said it was important for him to make the three-hour drive to test at South Boston Speedway this week.
“You’re always trying to get out here and get that little bit of an edge on your competitors,” Barnes pointed out.
“You can try things and re-evaluate where you are. We’re trying a different shock package today than we normally run just to see if it works and see where a good starting point for next season will be. The weather is obviously going to be different (when the season starts), the rubber on the track is going to be different. If we can find that starting point, we will be in a good spot.”
For Peregoy, the test session was about getting more seat time and trying different things with the car with an eye toward making performance improvements for the 2023 season.
“I’m just trying to get a little more seat time, trying to get a little more experience,” Peregoy explained. “The more track time and more seat time you can get the more you learn.”
Peregoy enjoyed a successful rookie season, landing three Top-5 finishes and 10 Top-10 finishes in his 13 starts enroute to a fourth-place finish in the final division point standings.
“I wish I could have won Rookie of the Year, but we finished in the top five in points and that accomplished our goal,” Peregoy remarked. “It was exciting racing in my first full year and finishing in the top five in points. I couldn’t have done it without my dad (former racer Tommy Peregoy), Chris (Elliott) and I thank them and my family for their support.”
Garus, from Summerville, South Carolina, plans to race in the Budweiser Limited Sportsman Division at South Boston Speedway in 2022. His car is maintained by Puryear, and he was looking this week to get some experience on the South Boston Speedway oval.
“Our cars and trucks are taken care of at Stacy Puryear’s shop, so it works out pretty well for us as far as getting up here and having an opportunity to test,” Garus said. “Having the opportunity to come up here and get some seat time is a huge benefit for us. We’re going to dabble in the Limited Sportsman division and hopefully make a good run at it.”
Garus said South Boston Speedway is a tough track.
“It’s a little different from anything I have raced on,” Garus pointed out. “It’s got a good bit of grip. It’s a fast track, but not real big. It carries a lot of speed. I’ve got a good coach in Stacy. He gets around here really well. Being able to come out here with him and learn the ropes is huge.”
A total of 13 racing events are currently in place on South Boston Speedway’s 2023 season schedule.