SOUTH BOSTON, Va. (November 9, 2022) -- It was an impressive group of rookie drivers that competed for championships and post-season honors at South Boston Speedway in 2022, many of whom compiled statistics veteran drivers would have liked to have posted.
Parker Eatmon of Wilson, North Carolina (NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model Stock Car Division), Carter Russo of Rougemont, North Carolina (Budweiser Limited Sportsman Division), B.J. Reaves of South Boston, Virginia (Southside Disposal Pure Stock Division) and Landon Milam of Keeling, Virginia (Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division) were announced as Rookie of the Year Award recipients during the South Boston Speedway Awards Banquet presented by PPG on Thursday night, November 3, at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, Virginia. The four drivers were the highest-finishing rookie driver in their respective division.
While Eatmon competed in only half of the races in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model Stock Car Division, he compiled a record good enough to make him the division’s top rookie with a 15th-place finish in the final division point standings.
“I’m proud to win Rookie of the Year at South Boston Speedway,” remarked Eaton, a 16-year-old who is a junior at Rocky Mount Academy in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. “We had a decent year at South Boston. Obviously, I would have liked to have won a race but it’s difficult with the competition that is there at South Boston Speedway. You had Peyton Sellers and Layne Riggs, and, of course, Jacob Borst and Landon Pembelton. They were good competition all year and they are tough to beat because they have been racing there for so long. I feel like it was good for me to get accustomed to the level of competition here is at South Boston Speedway.”
Eatmon’s record was good with one Top-5 finish and 10 Top-10 finishes in his eight starts. Among his Top-10 finishes were a trio of sixth-place finishes to go along with his one Top-5 finish.
“I was going into it just expecting to do the best I could, try to learn and grow into these cars because they are so different from the Legends Cars I was racing in the past,” Eatmon explained. “We started gaining spots as the races went on into the year. We started doing pretty well and found some speed. It was all good.”
For Russo, winning Rookie of the Year honors in the Budweiser Limited Sportsman Division was something of a surprise.
“It’s always a surprise,” Russo remarked. “It’s pretty amazing. You race against the best-of-the-best. All of the rookies finished in the top five in points, so it was a tough battle for Rookie of the Year.”
Russo started picking up momentum just prior to the mind-point of the season. When the season concluded Russo placed third in the final point standings with five Top-5 finishes and 12 Top-10 finishes in his 13 starts.
Among his Top-5 finishes were a pair of runner-up finishes and a pair of third-place finishes. He recorded four sixth-place finishes among his dozen Top-10 finishes and was one of 10 drivers to lead laps in the division.
“You always want to win, but that wasn’t at the top of our list,” Russo pointed out. “We were just trying to finish races, get experience, get knowledge to go into next year. It’s real rewarding to win Rookie of the Year. It’s something you can put on your resume and say you have done at a track like South Boston Speedway. We’ll be back and we’ll run Limited Sportsman again and try to get two spots better and see if we can bring home the championship next year with some wins.”
Reaves, who competed in the Southside Disposal Pure Stock Division, was the only driver among the four Rookie of the Year Award winners to win a race. He finished third in the final division point standings with a win, seven Top-5 finishes, and 11 Top-10 finishes in his 12 starts. The win, a runner-up finish, a third-place finish and two fourth-place finishes were among his Top-5 efforts. He was one of five drivers to lead laps this season.
“It was super exciting,” Reaves said of receiving the award at the speedway’s awards banquet. “I thought it was great that the track held the nice a ceremony it did, and I had the opportunity to receive that award for Rookie of the Year. It meant a lot to me. It’s a big deal. It’s a plaque I’m going to mount on the wall and will be proud of.”
One of the things that made Reaves’ accomplishments extremely rewarding was that the 2022 season was his first season of stock car racing.
“It was my first year of ever doing any type of circle-track racing,” Reaves pointed out. “It was a big learning curve for me all around. I don’t watch that much racing, so it wasn’t like I had a real good background coming into it. I was a green as you could get.”
The South Boston, Virginia resident was proud to have won a race in 2022 and be the only driver among the four Rookie of the Year Award winners to win a race. However, he wanted the win to come about in a different way.
“I know it doesn’t take away from it, but I realize the reason I won the race that I won was that Johnny Layne’s throttle cable broke,” Reaves said. “If his throttle cable had not broken that night, I don’t think I would have had a chance at it. For me, that’s frustrating. I want to win when I outrun the fast guys. I want to get a win because I had the best car that night. It will happen.”
Milam, one of the youngest, if not the youngest driver competing in the Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division, finished fifth overall in the final division point standings. He recorded a pair of third-place finishes, and he posted eight Top-10 finishes in his 10 starts that included a pair of sixth-place efforts.
“It feels great to receive the award,” Milam said. “The season was better than I expected. I was hoping to have a good year and win Rookie of the Year. I had no idea I would finish top five in points. At the beginning of the year, I didn’t think I was going to get it. For the longest time I had bad luck and got into wrecks and stuff and got behind. When (fellow driver Jordaine Penick) missed a race I caught back up, got in the lead for Rookie of the Year, and kept the lead from there. Toward the end of the year, it all worked out well.”
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