VA Ship Repair Night At The Races June 7th, 2014
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
at Langley Speedway - Hampton, VA
Virginia Ship Repair Association Night
Saturday, June 7, 2014
HAMPTON, Va. (June 7) — Matt Waltz and Greg Edwards picked up their fourth wins of the season with a split of the Virginia Ship Repair Association Twin 64s for the ComServe/Verizon Wireless Late Model Stock Cars, the headlining events of Saturday evening’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program at Langley Speedway.
The lineup for the first race was set in afternoon time trials and Waltz turned in the fastest lap, qualifying at 88.703 mph. Edwards started on the outside pole, while Nick Smith and C.E. Falk, making his first Langley start of 2014, shared Row 2. Connor Hall was fifth on the 18-car grid.
As the race got under way, Waltz leaped out front and hauled the field into Turn 1. Behind him, Smith slipped underneath Edwards and grabbed the second spot as they navigated Turns 3 and 4 for the first time. Edwards settled back into third, followed by Falk and Brenden “Butterbean” Queen.
In the first four circuits, Waltz opened an advantage of better than three lengths over Smith, who had his hands full with Edwards. Edwards regained the runner-up position from Smith on lap 8, bringing Falk along with him. The shuffle allowed Waltz to extend his margin to half a straightaway.
Waltz encountered slower traffic for the first time on lap 26. He was making good progress until lap 32 when he ran up on Quin Houff and Jeff Shiflett, who were jousting for position. Waltz cleared the duo on the backstretch on lap 33, retaining most of his healthy lead.
Edwards wasn’t quite as fortunate when he had to deal with Houff and Shiflett. As he struggled to get past, Waltz added a few more car-lengths to his edge.
Deeper in the field, Falk and Smith dueled for third. Falk was running about a groove up from the bottom of the track, presenting an inviting opening for Smith. On several occasions, Smith was able to draw alongside, but he couldn’t complete the pass as Falk kept his machine wound up on the outside.
The first caution flag waved on lap 50 when Paige Decker spun in Turn 2. Lining up for the restart, Edwards decided to take a shot with the outside lane and pulled up beside Waltz. He was joined by Smith, sixth-place Duane Shreeves, ninth-place Mark Wertz and Houff.
Back under green, Waltz quickly dispensed with Edwards, who immediately found Falk to his inside. Before that battle could take shape, though, the caution flag was flying again as Wertz got caught in a three-wide squeeze on the backstretch and cut down a right-front tire, coming to a stop in Turn 3. For what would turn out to be the final restart, Edwards, Smith and Shreeves again headed to the outside lane.
As the race resumed, Edwards stayed on Waltz’s flank until they reached Turn 3 and Waltz pulled ahead. Falk drove under Edwards in a bid for second and the two went side-by-side until lap 52 when, after a bit of contact, Falk grabbed the spot. Smith tagged along with Falk and dropped Edwards to fourth.
On lap 54, Edwards scooted back around Smith to retake third, then set his sights on Falk. Behind the lead quartet, Casey Wyatt cracked the top five on lap 55, bypassing Queen. Queen switched lanes and poked a fender under Wyatt on lap 56, but Wyatt held him off.
By lap 61, Edwards had erased his deficit to second-place Falk and he aggressively went after the runner-up position in Turns 3 and 4, rooting Falk up the track and taking over second as lap 62 began. Falk tried to return the favor when they got back to Turns 3 and 4, but couldn’t pull off a pass.
While his potential challengers tussled among themselves in his mirror, Waltz steadily motored away from the field. By the finish, his winning margin had grown to 2.392 seconds — nearly a full straightaway — over Edwards. Falk was third, followed by Smith and Wyatt.
Queen headed up the second five, in sixth. Shreeves, Hall, Terry Carroll and Devon Amos rounded out the top 10. Decker and Justin Carroll also came home on the lead lap, in 11th and 12th, respectively.
In Victory Lane after the race, Waltz commented on the effort behind his performance: “Everybody did a great job all day and made sure we made the right changes. That was something we didn’t do last week. Last week, we worked on it on old tires and messed ourselves up. But, I’m proud that everybody made all the right decisions today and we’re here in Victory Lane.”
Asked about preparations for the second Twin, Waltz said, “Typically, we’ve been better in the second race, so we’ll do our normal thing and go back at it here in an hour or so.”
Unfortunately for Waltz, however, nothing about the second feature was “normal.”
Thanks to his win in the opening event, Waltz was due to start the nightcap from the pole. Just before race time, though, he and his team discovered severe engine problems on his potent #2 car and he was forced to the #0 backup car and relegated to the back of the pack.
In the reconstituted lineup, which saw everyone in the inside line move up a spot, Falk ended up on the pole with Edwards to his outside. Wyatt occupied the third spot, sharing Row 2 with Smith, while Shreeves launched from fifth.
As the green flag fell to begin the second race, Falk and Edwards resumed their battle with Falk edging ahead at the end of the opening circuit. Edwards dropped in line on his bumper, followed by Wyatt, Smith and Shreeves.
On lap 4, Edwards tried to nudge his way underneath the leader in Turn 4, but made no headway. A lap later, though, he wasn’t so subtle, rooting Falk out of the groove and taking the point, while Falk tumbled to seventh before gathering his machine.
On lap 8, Smith darted underneath Wyatt and grabbed second place off Turn 4. Meanwhile, Falk was charging back toward the front, having reclaimed three positions. At the head of the field, Edwards enjoyed a half-straightaway lead.
On lap 14, Falk ducked under Wyatt, initiating a battle for third. The duel lasted for two laps with Falk snagging the spot on lap 16. Wyatt switched lanes and tried to rally on lap 17, but Falk held on, then set off after Smith, who was a straightaway ahead of him.
The first caution flag appeared on lap 37 when Decker spun in Turn 4 and came to rest against the outside wall. For the ensuing restart, Falk and eighth-place Wertz opted for the outside lane.
Back under way, Edwards cleared Falk before they reached Turn 1. Smith slipped under Falk, looking for second place, but Falk fended him off. Behind them, Wyatt and Wertz were side-by-side for fourth. Wertz won that skirmish on lap 40.
On lap 42, Falk skittered up the hill in Turn 3 and surrendered the second spot to Smith. On that same lap, Wyatt slipped past Wertz and went after Falk for third. The Wyatt/Falk scramble went on for two laps before Falk secured the position on lap 44.
The last of the race’s three caution flags flew on lap 46 when Houff smacked the wall off Turn 4 and collected Amos and Decker. While Amos was able to continue, Houff and Decker were sidelined for the night.
Setting the running order for the final restart, Edwards was the leader, followed by Smith, Falk, Wyatt and Shreeves. Falk and Shreeves broke ranks and headed for the outside lane, joined by Waltz, who was in ninth place.
Back under green, Edwards made short work of Falk, who dropped into a door-to-door battle with Smith. Falk nosed ahead to claim second place as they returned to the flagstand, but Smith powered past on lap 47 to take the spot for good.
As Smith pulled away, Falk went on an unplanned adventure through Turns 3 and 4, skating wide through the corner and falling back to ninth place. At the front, Edwards was up by three lengths and beginning to ease away.
At the finish, Edwards was the winner by 0.693-second — about four lengths — over Smith. Wyatt was third, followed by Terry Carroll and Shreeves. Falk was sixth, followed by Hall, Wertz, Waltz and Justin Carroll. Eddie Johnson and Shiflett were 11th and 12th, in that order, the final drivers to complete all 64 circuits — a nod to Langley’s 64 years of continuous operation.
In the winner’s circle following the event, Edwards summarized his evening: “We worked on the car a little bit after the first race. I felt we were pretty good then (in the first race), but Matt was just better through the traffic than I was. Then, me and C.E., we got together. Seems like when me and C.E.’s on the race track, we’re gonna get together. That’s just how it is. But, the car was fabulous. This car’s always been a good late-race car. It did it again tonight. I would have liked to have seen what we could’ve done with Matt. Feel bad for his bad situation, but I thank the Lord for us.”
After a 150-lap race and Twin 64s in the last two weeks, the Late Models will tackle yet another distance next Saturday, June 14, when they take to the track for a 125-lapper.
In the evening’s other feature events:
Twin 30s for the Larry King Law Modifieds produced two new winners as Brandon Gdovic and Danny Harrell posted their first wins of the season.
Shawn Balluzzo started the first race from the pole position, at 87.605 mph, and set the pace for the first 24 laps. Those 24 circuits were interrupted by caution flags on laps 4, 17, 18, 20 and 23. During the one extended green-flag stint from lap 4 to 16, Balluzzo pulled away by better than half a straightaway over Gdovic, a Langley regular in Late Models and INEX Legends.
As the field circulated under the fifth yellow flag, reports began to crackle across the radio that Balluzzo’s machine was leaking oil. Back under green, those reports were seemingly confirmed as puffs of white smoke began to trail from the leader’s #48 car.
The sixth caution flag flew on lap 25 when Balluzzo’s powerplant erupted along the backstretch. As he slowed, the rest of the field charged into Turn 3 behind him and cars began to slip and slide every which way in the oil.
After a lengthy red-flag delay for cleanup, the race resumed with Gdovic as the new leader. The run was short-lived, however, as third-place Jon Largena spun as he came to the green flag. The seventh yellow flag immediately waved and the field regrouped for another restart.
Under green for the last time, Gdovic bolted ahead of the pack, quickly establishing a three-length advantage over second-place Harrell.
Harrell whittled away at Gdovic’s lead, but came up a car-length short at the checkers as Gdovic won by 0.258-second. Taylor Sarkees tailed the lead duo to the line, in third, followed by Jack Sharkey and Kevin Adams.
In stark contrast to the opener, the second half of the Mod doubleheader ran caution-free.
Gdovic started on the pole and led the first 21 laps with Harrell in tow. At the crossed flags, his margin stood at three lengths. Over the next handful of laps, though, Harrell began to reel him in.
On lap 22, Harrell ducked under Gdovic on the backstretch, drew even and pulled ahead as they exited Turn 4. By lap 26, Harrell had driven away by five car-lengths.
At the finish, Harrell was the winner by 1.185 seconds — almost half a straightaway — over Gdovic. Balluzzo, piloting Largena’s #4 car, started at the rear and sliced and diced his way to a third-place result. Sarkees was fourth, while Adams completed the top five.
Jimmy Humblet, who brought a two-race winning streak and the points lead in the events, endured a tough day at the track. With problems on his primary #11 car, he hopped in the #10 car normally driven by his son, Chris. He was eliminated from the first race on lap 17 and wound up 14th. In the nightcap, he completed one lap to salvage a few championship points, then retired to an 11th-place finish.
In the 25-lap Cycle City Corp. INEX Legends race, Chris Hildebrand took the lead on the 14th circuit and showed the way to his second win in a row.
Spencer Saunders qualified on the pole, at 79.295 mph, and jumped out front on the start. Hildebrand, who started second, slipped to third in the initial shuffle, but regained the runner-up spot from Brandon Gdovic on lap 4.
While Hildebrand and Gdovic contested the second position, Saunders widened his lead to almost 10 car-lengths. Once he had secured second, though, Hildebrand quickly chased down the leader. By lap 9, they were nose-to-tail.
The first caution flag flew on lap 12 when Chris Raiford’s engine let go in spectacular fashion at the end of the frontstretch.
Back under green, Saunders and Hildebrand bolted from the pack and Hildebrand began to probe for an opening.
On lap 14, Hildebrand drove underneath Saunders at the start/finish line. They raced into Turn 1 side-by-side. In the middle of Turns 1 and 2, Saunders looped his machine to bring out the second, and final, caution flag.
As the race resumed, Hildebrand, the new leader, opened a two-length edge over Gdovic, who was busy fighting off Tommy Jackson Jr. While the second-place battle raged, Hildebrand steadily distanced himself from the field.
At the checkers, Hildebrand was the winner by 2.330 seconds — half a straightaway — over Gdovic. Jackson was third, while Matt Dail and Timmy Phipps completed the top five. After starting on the pole and leading most of the event, Saunders retired two laps short of the finish, winding up eighth.
Zach Lightfoot started on the pole, at 64.353 mph, and led all 15 laps for his first win in the East Coast Synthetics INEX Bandolero race.
After caution flags on each of the first two laps, the 10-car field got down to business, running “clean and green” the rest of the way.
Thanks to a somewhat disjointed restart following the second caution period, Lightfoot jumped out to a sizable lead. As the race wore on, the margin gradually increased.
At the finish, Lightfoot was the winner by a whopping 4.459 seconds over Trevor Wells, who rebounded from a spin on the opening lap to take second. Bradley Wilson was third, followed by Bradley Kilby and Cole Bruce.
With drafting help from Aaron Leach, Charlie-Ray Lorah rolled to his first win of the season in a 20-lapper for the Rhonnda Claiborne, Realtor HRKC Pro Winged Champ Karts.
Angela-Marie Steele started on the pole, at 61.663 mph, and grabbed the lead as the green flag dropped. In the early going, she teamed up with Amanda Frye to form a potent drafting combination at the head of the field.
On lap 6, though, Frye spun at the start/finish line, collecting David Millard and Ryan Hudgins. Steele retained the lead, but was now without her partner.
Back under green, Steele, Lorah and Leach pulled away from the pack. By the halfway mark, they had opened a gap of better than half a straightaway over Jordan Valdes and Harry Leach, who were battling for fourth.
On lap 17, Lorah and Leach went to the outside of Steele off Turn 2, easily overwhelming her to snag the first and second positions.
Over the last three laps, Lorah and Leach maintained a disciplined draft and took the checkers in nose-to-tail formation. Lorah’s official margin of victory was 83-thousandths of a second. Steele was third to the stripe, followed by Valdes and Cullen Roberts.
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