South Boston - It's tough to make a major change like moving from the Limited Sportsman Division to the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model Stock Car Division at mid-season but that is what Danny Willis Jr. has done – and is doing successfully at South Boston Speedway.
Willis opened the season competing in South Boston Speedway’s Limited Sportsman Division, garnering two Top-Five finishes and three Top-10 finishes in four starts. The four-time South Boston Speedway Limited Sportsman Division champion then opted to move up to the Late Model Stock Car Division ranks.
“We had missed a couple of races,” Willis noted.
“We had said we probably weren’t going to run a full season in Limited Sportsman anyway. We had decided we would try to run some Late Model races later in the season and went ahead and made the move up.”
One of the factors involved in the decision was that Willis can use the 604-crate engine he used while competing in the Limited Sportsman Division in the Late Model Stock Car Division.
“I see a few people are running it (the 604-crate engine) in Late Model now and the engines are coming back to being competitive,” Willis explained.
“We’re not in the points (chase) in the Limited Sportsman Division and have been struggling a little bit on the Limited side so we said we’ll set the car up for Late Model and try Late Model again.”
This is not the first time Willis has moved up to compete in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model Stock Car Division. He competed in the Late Model Stock Car Division ranks in 2016, scoring his only win in the division that season and finishing sixth in the point standings. Willis finished third in the Late Model Stock Car Division point standings in 2017 and finished fifth in points in 2018. In 2019 Willis returned to competition in the Limited Sportsman Division and scored six wins and 14 Top-Five finishes enroute to winning the division title.
Willis has seen a good measure of success since moving up to the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model Stock Car Division a few weeks ago. The South Boston, Virginia resident has earned one Top-Five finish and two Top-10 finishes in his three starts. In the 200-lap race on July 3, Willis started 30th in the 37-car field and had a solid run, working his way through the field to finish on the lead lap in 17th place, a gain of 13 positions.
Willis said there is still a lot of work ahead.
“I really haven’t missed but one year, but the technology in racing never stops,” Willis pointed out.
“Even though people weren’t racing at South Boston in 2020, people were racing elsewhere so the technology and improvements never stopped coming.
“On our budget and with the way we are, if we could get a Top-10 finish on any night I would be tickled to death,” Willis continued.
“I know we’re capable of winning races in Late Model. We’ve done it before. We’ve got to get our ducks in a row and things will have to work our way.”