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Emotional Win Tops Willis’ Impressive 2016 Start At South Boston

SOUTH BOSTON, Va. (May 19, 2016) – For a guy that almost walked away from racing last fall, Danny Willis Jr. is having a pretty impressive start to the 2016 season.

Willis notched his first career Late Model Stock win at South Boston Speedway last Saturday night. It was an emotional victory for Willis and his family. It was a win that also put a pretty solid exclamation point on his year to date.

Willis’ brother-in-law Clark Daniel was killed in an ATV accident earlier this spring. Daniel had long been a member of the South Boston racing family and Willis thought it was a fitting tribute to race that night. He wound up a heart-breaking second that night, but still wanted a win to dedicate to Daniel.

“Saturday night was real emotional. The day we lost him, I wound up racing, won the pole and finished second,” said Willis. “I thought I had a shot at winning that night. To be able to come back a couple weeks later, sit on the pole and get the win was really emotional. It was real special for the whole family.”

Willis, who won several Limited Sportsman championships at South Boston, had every intention of leaving the sport behind after last season. He even sold his Limited racer. Those plans were quickly reversed when South Boston announced cost-cutting measures and an increased purse during the winter.

A few weeks into the season, his first in a Late Model car in more than a decade, Willis not only has a win, but has finished in the top five in five of his six starts. And it could have been better. In the second half of the season-opening doubleheader Willis wrecked and finished 27th. His car had extensive damage and he was forced to miss the second race date of the season while it was being repaired.

“It’s a pretty neat deal to win a Late Model race at South Boston, especially for us moving up from Limited,” said Willis, who has backing from Gardner Marsh, C.E. Comer Construction, Meeler Insurance Agency, Beachfront Window Cleaners and Riverview Carport Sales.

“We had expectations of being a top-10 car. The field as stout as it is, the caliber of the drivers, we’d be excited to get top 10s, but since the first races we’ve been able to get top fives. We’re really excited so far. We’ve got two poles and a win and hopefully there’s more to come.”

The new rule that limits teams’ tire purchases to two a race has been a blessing for Willis. The money saved by the tire rule and the hard work of his all-volunteer crew are the reason he’s running up front.

“We have to use the resources we have and the tools we have. We’ve been making gains since race one. We’ve been getting better and better and finally hit it last week,” said Willis, citing the hard work of team members Jeremy Ratliff, Harold Carmichael, Clint Hazelwood, Chris Clark, Michael Womack and Jim Brenner. The commitment of his wife Kim and son Declan don’t go unnoticed either. “I couldn’t do it without my family.”

And despite Saturday night’s win, they all have been hard at work this week, even with a two-week break before their next race. By Wednesday morning, Willis’ winning race car was in pieces on his shop floor.

“We’ve got the car sitting in pieces. We have to maintain it to make sure everything is in good working condition. We want to make sure we’re good when we go back,” said Willis.

It will be a huge night of racing when racing returns to South Boston Speedway Saturday, June 4. The PASS Super Late Models will run a 150-lap race while the NASCAR All-American Series Late Model Stock cars will compete in twin 75-lap races. There will also be a 15-lap race for the Budweiser Hornets.

Advance adult general admission tickets are $10 each and may be purchased at the South Boston Speedway office until 5 p.m. on Friday, June 3. Adult general admission tickets will be $15 the day of the race. Youth ages 7-12 will be admitted for $5 and children six and under will be admitted free with a paying adult.

Media Contacts:
Mike Smith
Relevant Public Relations



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