Short track racing returned to the local scene this past weekend when Motor Mile Speedway kicked off the 2023 season with the Ice Out Opener on Saturday evening.
The .416-mile track welcomed racers from four different divisions and hosted six different races for the hundreds of fans in attendance.
The green flag was pushed back to 6 p.m. in hopes of avoiding the rain and that proved to be the right decision. The new season got underway when the Sportsman Series took to the track for the first of two 35-lap twin races. In a dominant race that saw him lead nearly every lap, it was Kyle Barnes that was the first to park his car in Victory Lane this season.
The following race on the track was the first 50-lap twin for the late model stocks. A very talented field that included many accomplished drivers battled for a while, but the top three eventually separated themselves from the rest of the field.
Martinsville 300 winner Mike Looney, last year’s Motor Mile Speedway track champion Kyle Dudley and former ARCA Series driver Derrick Lancaster finished on the podium.
Looney snagged the win after leading over 40 laps before a late caution forced him to outrun Dudley on the restart.
The Pure-4s then competed in a 20-lap dash.
When the checkered flag waved it was Kirby Shipman that crossed the line first. First-timer Caleb Sewell finished second and Javon Parker placed third. Following post-race inspection, Shipman’s car failed to make weight so the win went to Sewell in his inaugural race at Motor Mile.
The Sportsman Series returned to the track for its final twin of the night, and it was James Sweeney who avenged a spin in his first race with a win in the second.
The duo of Sweeney and Daryn Cockram got together in the first race and found themselves racing together again, this time up front, during the nightcap. While three cars were racing for the lead, Cockram was sent to the back of the field for aggressive driving and causing a caution.
Sweeney then checked out on the restart, led the final handful of laps and took home the checkered flag. The Super Streets took to the track, and it was Jimmy Mullins who claimed the win in convincing fashion. Mullins got to the front and never looked back.
The man who usually dominates in Franklin County made the drive down to the New River Valley and brought back a trophy with him. The final event of the night was the second late model race and, again, it was Looney that took it to the field. Following the inversion of the field after the first twin, it took the veteran just eight laps to find his way to the front.
Due to a few late-race cautions, he and Dudley continued to battle on restarts, but it was Looney that ultimately pulled the double to begin the new year. As they did in the first twin, Dudley and Lancaster finished in second and third to round out the podium.
Racing returns to Motor Mile Speedway on Saturday, April 8 for the Easter Eggstravaganza. There will be eight races across six divisions and a wide array of Easter activities for kids and families to enjoy. The green flag drops at 3 p.m. and kids 12 and under are free.
Motor Mile Speedway