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Morris stamps his name on South Boston Speedway’s victory lane

SoVaNow.com / August 03, 2017
The man who has his name stamped in Victory Lane at South Boston Speedway returned there last Saturday night.

Philip Morris remains a force at SBS, which will feature special historical celebrations later this month.

For now, Morris has added win no. 62 in the Philip Morris Victory lane at SBS.

Morris is proud to be part of the 60th anniversary season at SBS.

“This is probably one of the best short tracks that’s been in business since it opened. It’s had the reputation …you had all the greatest drivers that have raced here, have won here and have gone on to do big things. A lot of history here,” Morris said.

“I’m personally thankful for it. It’s a place that I get to race that has that historic importance. At the same time, even today, it’s relevant for speed and performance. Most of the guys gauge themselves off this race track. It’s one of the most relevant tracks in the (NASCAR Whelen All-American) series,” said Morris.

Morris is a four-time NASCAR national champion, and feels blessed this year. He notched his fifth win of the season at SBS, including the Fourth of July weekend late model race.

“We came out of the gate swinging pretty hard last year…. This year, with the personnel, with the performance and everything happening when it does, it seems like the sky’s the limit.

“I’m ashamed we’re not any better in the points in the national (hunt), but we’ve still got a lot of races to go,” said Morris.

Morris was ninth in the national points through July 23.

“If I had known we were going to start off this good, I think I would have tried to race more races at the beginning so at least it would better right now in the points,” said Morris.

“This race track has been significant in NASCAR for 60 years. That’s when NASCAR started. This goes back to the days when people started going to races from every walk of life. I think it’s been significant and relevant it’s whole life span,” said Morris.

“We’re not the only ones that believe in this race track. I think about it in terms that, this place was here eight years before I was born. It was significant then,” Morris said.

Morris still remembers his first race here, in 1994 when Stacy Compton claimed the track title.

“I came down here and I thought I’m going to get run over, I’m going to get lapped. I’m going to get jacked up,” recalled Morris.

He ran well, finishing second to Compton that night.

Morris did not believe he would eventually have the impact in racing that’s now part of his resume.

“There were so many good drivers that were famous,” said Morris. He merely expected to land solid finishes, every once in a while.

Now, at 52, Morris is still more than hanging on against drivers, in some cases, three decades younger.

“I get wrote off every once in a while,” said Morris.

Morris feels lucky to compete at the higher levels of NASCAR, including Camping World Truck and XFinity series.

He was able to lead a race and got in the top five.

“I got to see racing from that perspective. I feel lucky that I was one of the guys that got to do (that high level of racing),” said Morris.

Morris is a devout Christian and a family man first. He soon realized that the higher advancement was not for him.

“For me, personally, it wasn’t. It wasn’t where I was in my life at that particular time. I feel lucky that I get to do what I’m getting to do now. I wanted to be with my family…We’re really close,” said Morris.

He has no regrets and loved the performance side of Xfinity, then the NASCAR Busch Series. But he also wanted family time and did not want to deal with the demands placed on drivers at the higher levels.

“It wasn’t for me to be away every day of the week, and only getting maybe a couple of days at home,” said Morris.

Besides, Morris believes late model racing is big-time in its own right.

He and his wife Donna have three children, Allison (24), Blake (20) and Tye (11). They support the racing, and his daughter wanted a shot at racing. But it wasn’t to be.

Morris is also sincere in his Christian faith, which has sustained him over a long motorsports career.

“Anybody who straps a helmet on, that goes around a race track, to me has got to have faith….Anything can happen, anytime. When you’re riding that close, I think it draws you nearer to the Cross…. For me, every lap is white knuckles, trusting in him. You can bet I prayed before the race (Saturday night),” said Morris.

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