SOUTH BOSTON, VA (October 11, 2022) -- It took awhile before the possibility of competing for the 2022 South Boston Speedway Budweiser Limited Sportsman Division championship surfaced on Kyle Barnes’ radar.
Initially, Barnes was looking no further than competing in a couple of early-season events.
“We had always planned to run the first two weekends,” Barnes explained. “The first weekend we started 14th and somehow got out of there with a second-place finish. The next week I started 12th and won. I felt we kind of lucked into it (the win) a little bit. There were three big wrecks and I just happened to miss them all. Then we went back for the next race, and I led every lap and won the race. After that our whole focus completely shifted to South Boston Speedway and trying to go for the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Division II national and regional championships.”
Barnes won the 2022 South Boston Speedway Budweiser Limited Sportsman Division championship, compiling an outstanding record in the process. He scored a division-high eight wins in his 13 starts, recorded a dozen top-five finishes, and never finished outside the top 10.
The Budweiser Limited Sportsman Division championship was Barnes’ first career South Boston Speedway NASCAR Limited Sportsman Division title and his second career Limited Sportsman Division championship. He won the Limited Sportsman Division title at Kingsport Speedway in Kingsport, Tennessee in 2020.
Late-season car counts at both South Boston Speedway and Motor Mile Speedway, where he also raced, did not play into his favor in his bid for the national championship. He finished 11th in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Division II national standings with 11 wins and 19 top-five finishes in 20 starts.
While Barnes did not win the NASCAR Division II national championship, his stats were good enough to earn him a second-place finish in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Division II Southeast Region standings for the second season in a row.
Barnes, who has 35 career Limited Sportsman Division wins between South Boston Speedway, Motor Mile Speedway and Kingsport Speedway, said he was surprised to be able to come to South Boston Speedway, where he had little prior experience, and win races and the Budweiser Limited Sportsman Division championship.
“When you look at years past, anybody that has come to South Boston Speedway from other tracks have always kind of had a hard time there,” Barnes pointed out. “It’s difficult to just come in and race competitively with the track’s regular weekly guys. I know we started the season with everybody else but to come in at the beginning of the year and not have much experience there and rack off a second and a couple of wins in a row in the first three races was very big for us. Anybody that can win at South Boston Speedway can go anywhere else and win as well.”
Barnes says winning the South Boston Speedway Budweiser Limited Sportsman Division championship is a prestigious accomplishment.
“I’m not knocking anybody else,” Barnes emphasized, “but South Boston Speedway has historically had the stiffest competition on the east coast, along with Motor Mile, as far as the Limited Sportsman ranks go.
“Anybody in the top nine at South Boston Speedway this year could have won races. It’s very interesting to look back at this year and see how many people led laps and how many people were running up front each week. Look at the guys that were coming in, even in the middle of the season. You had Adam Murray who drove up from North Carolina, you had Ronald Renfrow with Lee Pulliam, and they led laps the first week they were there. There were a lot of great teams here. You had Jason Myers, Daniel Crews, Carter Russo, Chris Donnelly from Dominion Raceway, and all of the Dawson family were really fast. Zach Peregoy got quick at the end of the season. Eric Winslow won the last two races of the season.
“We got lucky a lot of times,” Barnes continued. “If certain wrecks don’t happen, if certain things don’t fall our way, and we don’t play the situations as smart as we did, we probably don’t come away with as many wins and the championship.”
Barnes credits the methodical approach he and his team utilize as being a big key in his ability to win the division championship and have a successful season.
“We try to play every race like a chess match,” Barnes pointed out. “We didn’t have a lot of qualifying speed, but our race pace was one of the best all season. I can run consistent laps. I don’t have the fastest car there, but I can be consistent and not fall off. That’s what gave us the competitive edge throughout the season.”