Willis Made Most Of Return To Limited Sportsman With Six Wins And South Boston Speedway Championship

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Danny Willis Jr. hit a few racing milestones in 2019.

It was his 20th year racing stock cars. He won his fourth Limited Sportsman Division championship at South Boston Speedway. He topped the 40-win mark in the Limited division. And perhaps most notably, Willis had almost a worry-free season.

“It’s always fun when you can win races and be competitive, especially when you don’t tear stuff up,” said Willis. “It was a stress-free year … except when the points got tight.”

Willis’ championship season – six wins and 14 top-five finishes – was dictated by a decision during the offseason. After three stress-filled seasons of racing in the highly competitive and costly Late Model Stock division, Willis decided to step back at least for a season and return to the Limited class.

“We had to decide if we wanted to run a few races in Late Model or drop back and win races,” said Willis. “In Late Model, a lot of the guys do it full time; it’s their job. In Limited the guys are like us: they work a 40-hour-a-week job and work on their race cars at night.

“Late Model at South Boston always has the best competition, the best of the best, but I believe if you can win at Limited at South Boston, you can go anywhere else and be competitive in a Late Model. That’s how tough South Boston is.”

Even though Willis took a 75-point win over Daniel Moss in the championship chase, it was by no means a runaway title victory. Moss was only one win behind Willis with five and teenager Jacob Borst had three wins. Borst actually led more laps during the season than anyone with 246. By comparison Willis led 127 laps and Moss 111.

“It was a stout field with Borst and Moss and (Eric) Winslow. At one time I didn’t know if we could come out with the championship,” said Willis. “Moss led for a while and had some bad luck and Jacob ran really strong, but he had trouble early (in the season).

“We were fortunate enough to get six wins and come out on top with the championship. We escaped trouble … we weren’t working on a torn-up race car every week. It was a lot of fun; we had a ball. But you still have to work on the cars … even if you’re racing a four-cylinder class, you have to work on the car every week. It takes a lot out of you, takes a lot out of everybody.”

Willis says he is lucky to be surrounded by good, hard-working, supportive folks, starting with wife Kim and seven-year-old son Declan. And then there are the crew members: Clint Hazelwood, Chris Clark, Michael Womack, Harold Carmichael, and Scott Nester, who helped keep the car fast week-after-week.

He had sponsorship help this season from Gardner Marsh Gas Equipment Company, Italian Delight Family Restaurant, Southstone Behavior Center, GutterWorx, Meeler Insurance Agency, T&M Farms, Billy Banks Racing Engines, A&E Race Cars, Choice Automotive, Ratliff Service Center and LS Tractors.

Willis did double duty of sorts most of the season. His son Declan raced his first fulltime season in go-karts, traveling through North Carolina and South Carolina for races. In addition to being his biggest fan, Danny is also Declan’s head mechanic.

“I stayed in the shop every night working on the go-kart or the race car. It was tough at times,” said Willis.

The younger Willis’ season isn’t over yet and like his dad, he’s right in the middle of a championship chase. He has five wins on the season and is second in the points.

“Racing has always been in my blood and I don’t want to give it up, but I know one day I’m going to have to hang it up to get Declan going.”

Don’t look for that to be anytime soon, though. Willis is contemplating a move back to Late Models in 2020 if he can secure enough backing. If not, expect him to be back chasing a fifth South Boston Speedway Limited Sportsman championship.

Action returns to South Boston Speedway Saturday afternoon, November 2 for the AutosbyNelson.com 250 CARS Tour Series championship.

There will be 125-lap races in both the CARS Late Model Stock division and the CARS Super Late Model division to determine the championship in both classes. Grandstand gates open at 12:30 p.m., qualifying is set for 1 p.m. and the first race will take the green at 2 p.m.

Advance tickets for the AutosbyNelson.com 250 are $10 through Friday, Nov. 1. Adult general admission tickets on race day will be $15. Youth ages 12 and under will be admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult.

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