Colton Bettis Kicks off the BG Products Southern Sprint Car Series 2024 Season with a huge win
BG SSSS SEASON OPENER
Story and Photos by Chris Fozillo:
The BG Southern Sprint Car Super Series (SSSS) held their season opener this past Saturday at Auburndale Speedway in Lakeland FL. They simultaneously ushered in a new era with the introduction of American Racer tires. The switch will lower costs for the teams and provides a tire with additional durability.
2023 series champion was absent from on opening weekend, but for a good cause. Saturday was his wedding day. Congratulations Daniel and Sarah.
There were 13 cars at the facility with one being a 602. The 602 class is in a growth period and regulars were not in attendance. We look forward to having all of them back for the next round, January 27th at Citrus County Speedway.
Heat races were won by Steven Hollinger and Joe Ligori. Ironically the pair would make contact in the feature.
For the feature, series director Rick Day opted for a new approach to starting line ups, and did a pill draw to set the field. Fourteen-year-old phenom Colton Bettis drew the 1 pill and started on pole. With race monitor down for the evening, we relied on old school manual timing, and depending on who you talked to, Bettis and Hollinger were the fastest cars in practice. Either way you got the sense that Bettis would run away with this one starting p1.
After a beautiful three wide salute to the fans, the men lined up to get after it. Lap one was clean until Ligori appeared to come down and making contact with Hollinger, resulting in Ligori’s Rudolph owned machine facing the wrong direction. From my vantage point it looked like good ole hard racing and incidental contact. Both would restart from the rear of the field. The restart would be the last flag shown until the checkers.
Bettis had a good restart with Dude Teate in tow and Dylan Reynolds behind Dude. In two laps Bettis had begun to pull away and kept on going. Colton’s driving style, very smooth, easy on the tires, and maintaining race pace at the same time, resulted in him checking out! In the end he finished only a few seconds behind second and third place. Colton Bettis Racing didn’t just win Saturday, they made a statement. Their goal going into the season was to win the season championship, and the 2023 rookie of the year started just the way they wanted to.
After the race, Colton was quick to praise his car chief, Tra Pissot. Tra always gives Colton the car to have an opportunity to fight for wins. He also thanked his family and grandpa Tony Carreno for making his career possible. I also asked him about the American Racers as I was curios how the behaved compared to how the super late model drivers speak of them. Colton’s answer was basically the same. He stated that the fall of was similar the Hoosier, however, once the tire plateaued, they stayed consistent and fast. John Lepine commented that the tire wore very well, noting the great shape they were in after a heat and feature, that they still would be a great set for practice. The only question now is how they will be after the heat cycles. My guess is they’ll be like the tires for the supers and practice well.
There will of course be ups and downs through the course of the season, but with this team, it would be smart money to bet on this team to be there, fighting for the title at the end of the year.