Patterson starts Late Model career this week

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, March 16, 2023

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By Joe Chandler

South Boston Speedway

Andrew Patterson will be taking a big step in his racing career when he lines up for the start of the first of the twin 75-lap Sentara Healthcare Late Model Stock Car Division races that will headline the Danville Toyota ’23 Opener on Saturday, March 18, at South Boston Speedway.

Patterson will be competing in his first career race in a Late Model Stock Car, driving a car fielded by Sellers-Burton Racing.

“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid to get into Late Models,” Patterson said during a break while recently testing the car co-owned by H.C. Sellers of Danville, and NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Jeb Burton of Halifax, at South Boston Speedway. “I can’t wait.”

The 20-year-old Statesville, North Carolina resident is entering his eighth year of racing. He made his first start in a car a couple of years ago in a Legends Car and spent most of last year racing Legends Cars. A native of Ohio, Patterson spent most of his early racing career racing go-karts in his native state.

Over the past two years Patterson has worked for Jordan Anderson Racing, the team Burton drives for in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

“Luckily, I hooked up with H.C. Sellers and it’s a coincidence Jeb is driving for the Xfinity Series team this year,” Patterson remarked. “The knowledge and experience they have is invaluable, with H.C. having the knowledge and experience with the cars and the experience and knowledge Jeb has with driving. That’s a big reason why I decided to land with Sellers.”

Patterson enjoyed his first time on the .4-mile South Boston Speedway oval, noting South Boston Speedway is a lot different than Florence (South Carolina) Speedway where he had tested approximately a month earlier.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Patterson said of South Boston Speedway. “It’s a lot faster track. You hustle the car more and get the power down more efficiently. South Boston will be better for me for my first start.”

“I know there will be a learning curve for me here at South Boston,” Patterson added. “I’ve still got to adjust to the track a little bit, but I think we’re pretty close.”

Patterson plans to compete in 10 to 12 races with Sellers-Burton Racing this season, competing in select events at South Boston Speedway, Dominion Raceway, Motor Mile Speedway and Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway. The young driver said the team has penciled in two to three events at South Boston Speedway this season.

“The goal is to get better throughout the year,” he noted. “We’ve got a pretty good list of tracks we’re heading out to this year and we’ll be racing against a lot of good cars.”

Burton is optimistic about seeing good things from Patterson in South Boston Speedway’s season-opening event.

“It’s going to take Andrew a couple of races to get the feel of things,” Burton pointed out, “but I think he will come out and have a shot at a top-five finish for sure, and maybe even better than that. I think this car will be pretty good. If he can run all of the laps and get a top-five finish that will be great.”

Sellers is also optimistic that Patterson will have a good outing.

“He’s going to be going against some pretty heavy competition here at South Boston,” noted Sellers. “Our goal for this race is just to have a solid day, try to garner all the seat time we can and keep the car in one piece. I think if we can accomplish that it will be a very good day. We can take that, move forward the rest of the year and live and learn.”

Burton said the 2023 season represents an opportunity for Sellers-Burton Racing to move its program forward.

“It has been a slow progression,” Burton pointed out. “It started with me running some races. Then we had Daniel Silvestri run the car, and he did well. That helped us leapfrog into this with Andrew.

“It’s growing,” Burton continued, “and we want this program to run 10 races a year with somebody and then me to run three or four races and have fun with it and run well. The last couple of years we haven’t had the car we needed to perform at the level that we want. We got rid of that car and built a new one over the winter. I think this one should get our results back to when we first started the program when I was racing and when Daniel was racing. I’m excited about that.”

South Boston Speedway will hold its annual pre-season test day on Saturday, March 11, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. The test day provides an opportunity for drivers and teams to get some track time in preparation for the season’s first NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series racing event, the Danville Toyota ’23 Opener, on Saturday afternoon, March 18. Fans may watch free of charge from the speedway’s tailgating section and the lawn chair seating areas in turns three and four.

The March 18 Danville Toyota ’23 Opener will be highlighted by twin 75-lap races for the Sentara Healthcare Late Model Stock Car Division. 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 are also scheduled on the season-opening program.