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Revamped Myrtle Beach Speedway Has Inspiring Opening
If Saturday night is any indication, the future of short track racing at historic Myrtle Beach Speedway looks bright.
Several hundred fans – including an influx of children on Kids Night – got a glimpse of the ongoing renovation process put in place by a new ownership group in and around the .538-mile semibanked oval. There were food vendors at the entrance, newly painted walls and buildings and a new sound system that the track desperately has needed for years.
On the track, the car counts were up – 20 Late Models, 8 Chargers and 11 Mini-stocks – as the track benefited from the return of such drivers as Stuart Ricks, Sam Yarbrough and Rick Smith, who have run sparingly over the past few years.
The night wasn’t perfect – teams struggled to get their tires and fuel in time and as a result many missed the first of two practices – but for a few short hours, a track that many feared was close to extinction showed signs of life.
“If you see a problem one week, it will get resolved the next week,” new track owner Bob Lutz told the teams during the drivers’ meeting. “We applaud everyone’s patience. We want to make it fair for everyone in all of the classes.”
The start of the 40-lap Late Model race, the main event, was postponed because of rain and will be run on Thursday night, meaning two 40-lap Late Model races for the evening.
Mark Hale of Myrtle Beach won the 25-lap Charger race. Scott Buff was second and Eric Joyner was third. Wade Skipper won the qualifying heat race.
In the 20-lap Mini-stock race, Michael McKinnon Myrtle Beach took the lead on lap four and dominated the rest of the way to win his first career race. Willie Fulford, who won the first heat races, finished second and Adam Fulford was third. Eric McKinnon won the second heat race.
Thursday night’s events mark a rare weeknight event at the speedway. NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Denny Hamlin and former drivers Michael Waltrip and Kyle Petty will be at the track as part of Victory Junction Gang Night. Other NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers are expected to attend with the series racing in nearby Darlington on May 12.