Trevor Ward pulls off upset, wins ValleyStar Credit Union 300 and Virginia Triple Crown

MARTINSVILLE, Virginia — Every day in Trevor Ward’s Late Model Stock career has been a fight.

Ward and his small operation do not have the resources of powerhouse teams like JR Motorsports and Lee Pulliam Performance, but that hasn’t stopped the Winston-Salem, North Carolina, native from persevering to become one of the best in the discipline.

Sunday’s ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway saw Ward’s laborious efforts translate into the biggest accomplishment of his career. He held off Landon Huffman to take home a grandfather clock, $32,000 and a Virginia Late Model Triple Crown championship.

Ward found himself speechless after claiming the most prestigious event in Late Model Stock Car competition, but he made sure to credit every member of his crew for helping him obtain his lifelong dream of being a Martinsville winner.

“I haven’t processed it all in yet,” Ward said. “I want every single one of my guys to enjoy this just as much as I am. Everything will settle in this week, but I have to thank everyone that had a part in this win.”

You all know who you are.”

Heading into his seventh ValleyStar Credit Union 300 start, Ward felt that he was more prepared than ever to contend for a victory in the prestigious race.

Ward’s other appearances at Martinsville have been marred by disappointment. Outside of a top-five in 2018, Ward had either failed to qualify or finish in every attempt despite seeing steady improvements in his car’s performance year after year.

The key for Ward was reminding himself of past Martinsville shortcomings to see how he could gain an edge on Peyton Sellers, Bobby McCarty, and other Late Model Stock Car elites.

“I studied every day,” Ward said. “I’ve built [a car] for this race every year. We’ve made progress and I think we’re about close to where we need to be at in this deal.”

When the green flag waved on Sunday evening, Ward knew his car was one of the best in the 40-car field.

Although he was initially content with riding behind Carson Kvapil during the second half of the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, a mandatory caution with 25 laps remaining provided Ward with a perfect opportunity to put his No. 77 in front of the field.

Ward held nothing back during the final sprint of the finish. He muscled his way around Kvapil and Sellers before contact with the latter on the final restart of the night caused him to briefly lose the lead to Huffman.

Not ready to let a ValleyStar Credit Union 300 victory slip away, Ward relentlessly chased Huffman down and managed to pull alongside him with four laps remaining. Neither driver gave the other any room to work with as they both traded blows heading towards the checkered flag.

Huffman had never once participated in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 during his own prolonged career prior to Sunday evening. He executed his strategy perfectly and did everything possible to hold off a faster Ward, only to lose by .058 seconds.

“I was half a car short,” Huffman said. “I’m heartbroken because I’ve never had an opportunity to race for anything like this. To be here on this stage, have a shot at the clock and be leading with five to go is really all I can ask for.

“I’m proud of this effort and hopefully we can continue to build on it.”

Ward was so immersed during the closing laps that he was almost oblivious to Huffman on his outside. The only thing Ward wanted to see in front of his windshield was the checkered flag waving.

“[Landon] wasn’t in front of me,” Ward said. “I knew I was better than him and when I got to him, I had to clear him and go. We raced hard, but during the last three laps, I didn’t even know he was out there.”

Once the immersion subsided and the magnitude of what he accomplished began to set in, Ward could not believe he was in the same category as the other Late Model Stock Car drivers who have taken home a grandfather clock.

Ward sacrificed copious amounts of time and energy just to have enough pace to race inside the top-10. The results did not immediately surface overnight on the national stage, but his triumph in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 only reinforced Ward’s commitment to success in Late Model Stock competition.

Now that he has two of Virginia’s most storied short track accomplishments on his resume, Ward is already focused on the next race in front of him.

And he’ll do whatever it takes to win.

“It ain’t about the money,” Ward said. “This is about bringing fast cars to the race track. I don’t care if I live in a box as long as I have a race car.”