Pomoco Night At The Races April 5th 2014

 

RACE REPORT

NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
at Langley Speedway - Hampton, VA
Pomoco Auto Group Night (2014 Season Opener)
Race Report
Saturday, April 5th, 2014

HAMPTON, Va. (Apr. 5) - Greg Edwards moved out front on lap 19 and sailed to a convincing victory in the Pomoco Auto Group 100 for the ComServe/Verizon Wireless Late Model Stock Cars, the featured event of Saturday evening's season-opening NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program at Langley Speedway.
Nick Smith claimed the pole position for the season's first race, clocking in at 90.464 mph. Matt Waltz was second-fastest, just 27-thousandths of a second off Smith's mark. Edwards qualified third, only 56-thousandths of a second behind the pole winner. Casey Wyatt and Brandon Gdovic rounded out the top five on the 15-car grid.
As the race got under way, Smith motored ahead of Waltz to take the lead into Turn 1. Waltz settled into second, followed by Edwards, Gdovic and Terry Carroll. Swapping lanes, Waltz drove underneath Smith as the field rolled into Turn 1 on lap 3. He drew even along the backstretch and swiped the top spot off Turn 4. Spotting the opening down low, Edwards tagged along with Waltz.
The race's only caution flag waved on lap 4 when Jeremy Grogg and Duane Shreeves locked horns on the back straightaway. Just when it appeared that everyone else had missed the incident, Robert Bruce stumbled into the fracas. All three drivers were sidelined for the night.
Lining up for the ensuing restart, Smith broke ranks and gave up his third spot in the running order to test his luck in the outside lane. He was joined up top by Mark Wertz and Justin Carroll, the sixth- and eighth-place runners.
Back under green, Waltz nosed ahead of Smith to retain the lead by the slimmest of margins. The two continued door-to-door until they reached Turn 4 on lap 5. Coming back to the stripe, Waltz gained the clear-cut advantage and left the door open for Edwards, who took over second on lap 6. Wertz tried to follow Waltz and Edwards, but Smith rebuffed his charge.
At the head of the pack, Waltz had fashioned a three-length advantage over Edwards. Soon, though, Edwards began to narrow the gap. Meanwhile, the rest of the field was disappearing from the leaders' mirrors. By lap 13, half a straightaway separated the top two from third-place Smith.
Edwards kept chipping away at Waltz's lead until lap 17 when he pulled up on the leader's rear bumper. Exiting Turn 4 on lap 18, Edwards launched a bid for the top spot, driving underneath Waltz. As they reached the end of the backstretch on lap 19, Edwards surged out front. The tussle allowed Smith to close to within three lengths of the lead battle.
Once he was securely out front, Edwards rapidly distanced himself from Waltz. Within a handful of circuits, his margin had swelled to five lengths. Deeper in the field, Gdovic scuffled with Terry Carroll for fourth, while Wyatt enjoyed a front-row seat. As they jousted, though, they continued to lose ground to Edwards, who was nearly half a lap ahead.
On lap 36, Wyatt bypassed Carroll to take over fifth, then set his sights on Gdovic. By lap 41, he had closed to within a couple car-lengths of Gdovicís bumper.
As the field received the crossed flags, signifying the halfway point, Edwards maintained a five-length lead over Waltz, while Smith had fallen more than half a straightaway behind. Slower traffic loomed in the leaderís windshield, though.
Edwards waded into traffic on lap 59, allowing Waltz to close in. On lap 67, he bypassed Terry Carroll, putting the sixth-place driver a lap down. With the leader growing larger in his mirror, Wyatt turned up the heat on Gdovic. He rooted the fourth-place runner up the track in Turn 4 on lap 73, but couldnít pull off the pass as Edwards zeroed in.
Edwards lapped Wyatt on lap 77, then scooted past Gdovic on lap 78. Ahead of him lay more than a full straightaway's worth of clear race track. Waltz was half a straightaway back, while Smith was a straightaway behind Waltz.
Over the closing laps, Waltz was able to shave a bit from Edwards' advantage. It wouldn't be nearly enough, though, as Edwards won by 0.853-second - about five lengths. Waltz and Smith were second and third, the only other drivers on the lead lap. Gdovic was fourth, while Wyatt battled back from a rear-end failure during afternoon practice rounds to snag a top-five finish.
Terry Carroll headed up the second five, in sixth, followed by Wertz, Justin Carroll and Danny Edwards Jr., who was piloting Wertz's backup machine. Rick Gdovic rounded out the top 10, two laps behind the winner.
In Victory Lane after the race, Edwards commented on the preparations that led up to his dominant run: "It felt the way I wanted it to. Y'know, sometimes testing gets overrated 'cause you end up dialing yourself out. Sometimes, you might have a pretty good car and you overthink it and you slow it down. But, I've gotta thank (engine builder) Charlie High. He went to work on this motor package. It's kind of new motor package NASCAR came out with last year. He went to work and, man, that thing was going down the straightaways in the race. It doesnít put up the numbers in qualifying, but when it comes race time, it was awesome. Gotta thank the guys. The car was definitely on point."
Turning his attention to the runner-up, Edwards offered a tip of the cap to Waltz: "Matt stayed with me. I ran as hard as I could the whole race and they kept saying he was either gaining a little bit or Iíd gain a little bit. I know he was driving his hardest and heís got a great car."
In the early part of 2013, with the track sporting a fresh coat of asphalt, tire wear was an issue and prompted the introduction of a different (harder) compound for the Late Models - a change that has carried over into 2014. Asked about the current tire situation, Edwards raved, "These tires are so good that you don't have to buy practice tires. I could take these tires, bring 'em back next week and test 'em and be just as fast as I was on brand new tires. For the racer, that makes it cheaper and that makes it better for everybody."
Edwards will have a couple weeks to enjoy his opening night success. The Late Model division will step aside next Saturday, Apr. 12, as the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour comes to town for their first-ever springtime visit to Langley. The Late Models return to action on Saturday, Apr. 19, in another 100-lapper.

In the evening's other feature races:

Landon Abbott booted Randy Akers aside off the final corner to snag the win in a 40-lapper for the Butterfoss & Barton Orthodontics Super Street feature.
Akers was the pole-sitter for the event, qualifying at 76.691 mph. He shared the front row with Sammy Gaita, while Abbott lined up third.
On the start, Akers powered ahead of the pack, gaining the upper hand as the field passed beneath the green flag. Gaita dropped into second, followed by Abbott, John Pereira and Renno Marchetti IV.
Abbott was on the move on the opening circuit, poking a fender to the inside of Gaita in a bid for second. Before that duel could take shape, though, the race's only yellow flag flew when debris was spotted in Turn 1.
As the field gathered for a restart, Abbott abandoned his third position in the running order and pulled to the outside of Akers. He was joined up top by Marchetti, Bill Eaker and Jim Bennett.
Returning to green, Akers again bolted ahead of the pack. Abbott fell in line on Akers' rear bumper and took a look to the inside as they raced into Turn 1. Akers dismissed the challenge and began to pull away, quickly forging a three-length advantage.
Over the first half of the event, Akers steadily added to his margin, while Abbott had to contend with Gaita, who was looking to retake the runner-up position. Nearing the halfway mark, Akers' lead had grown to nearly half a straightaway.
On lap 28, Akers found himself mired in slower traffic and Abbott closed in, narrowing the gap to three lengths. Akers broke into the clear on lap 29, but he couldn't shake Abbott, who was now firmly in contention.
Akers and Abbott continued their nose-to-tail joust until the white-flag circuit. Rolling through Turns 3 and 4 for the last time, Abbott popped Akers' left-rear quarter panel, sending the leader for a loop at the end of the pit lane.
While Akers tried to gather his machine, Abbott sped on to the checkers, beating Gaita by 0.754-second. Marchetti was third, followed by Eaker and Jeff Sweeney. After leading 39-3/4 of the 40 laps, Akers wound up eighth, the last driver on the lead lap.
After the race, Akers and Abbott stopped to exchange a few pleasantries on the frontstretch, then Abbott resumed his victory celebration, returning to the winner's circle minus his right-rear tire and trailing sparks.
In the 25-lap KeesVacations.com Super Truck race, Chase McAdams rebounded from a pair of spins, then outdueled Jacob Carr on the final lap to score the win.
Bill Wallace was the fast qualifier, at 75.135 mph. He failed to come up to speed on the initial start, however, and gave way to Carr. Colby Vance moved up to second, followed by McAdams, while Wallace tumbled to fourth.
On lap 2, Trevor Battoia bypassed Corey Bress to crack the top five. He advanced another position on lap 3 when Wallace slowed and headed for the pits. By lap 7, Carr had widened his lead to half a straightaway over Vance, McAdams and Battoia, who were bumper-to-bumper-to-bumper for second.
The first caution flag waved on lap 8 when the second-place battle overheated off Turn 2 and McAdams spun.
Back under green, Carr maintained the lead, but drifted high off Turn 4 and opened the door for Vance, who looked low as the field began lap 9. Carr beat back that challenge and pulled away by two lengths as the leaders spilled onto the backstretch.
Carr held that two-length edge until lap 18 when Vance slapped the backstretch wall and dropped off the pace, retiring to the pits. With Vance's exit, the runner-up spot passed to Battoia, who had McAdams on his tailgate.
On lap 23, McAdams took a run at Battoia, hoping to snag second place. Instead, the two tangled and spun in Turn 1 on lap 24, bringing out the second, and final, yellow flag and setting up a two-lap sprint to the finish.
On the final restart, McAdams immediately bypassed Bress for second and closed in on Carr. Exiting Turn 4 with the white flag in sight, he ducked underneath Carr and the battle for the win was on.
McAdams and Carr were door-to-door until they reached the fourth corner. Holding the inside line, McAdams powered ahead of Carr and won by 0.141-second - a single truck-length. Battoia was third to the line, followed by Bress. Vance and Wallace were credited with fifth and sixth, respectively.
Tommy Jackson Jr. took the lead with a banzai charge into Turn 1 on a mid-race restart and led the rest of the way to win the 25-lap Cycle City Corp. INEX Legends race.
Chris Hildebrand started on the pole, at 80.704 mph, and paced the first nine circuits, pulling away by nearly half a straightaway. Meanwhile, Jackson, who started fifth, emerged from the opening shuffle in third, then swiped second from Brandon Gdovic on lap 6. Spencer Saunders tagged along with Jackson and took over third.
The only caution flag appeared on lap 10 when Chris Raiford and Brad Hancock tangled and spun in Turn 1. Hancock called it a night, while Raiford dropped to the rear of the field.
On the restart, Jackson drove underneath Hildebrand on the approach to Turn 1. He pulled even in the corner and grabbed the lead off Turn 2. Once more, Saunders followed in Jackson's wake and took the second spot away from Hildebrand.
Over the second half of the race, Saunders remained within one or two car-lengths of Jacksonís rear bumper. On lap 23, however, Jackson got a good run off Turn 2 and doubled his advantage.
Saunders tried to rally in the last two laps, but he couldnít make up the lost ground as Jackson won by 0.192-second - little more than a car-length. Hildebrand was third to the line, while Scotty Edwards and Gdovic, who was pulling double-duty in his Late Model, completed the top five.
In a caution-free 25-lapper for the Carroll's Automotive UCARs, Jesse Jones IV started on the pole, at 74.248 mph, and wired the field to pick up the victory.
Richard Ellis started third on the 14-car grid and moved up to second as the green flag dropped, bypassing outside pole-sitter Justin Fuller. He held down the runner-up for all 25 circuits, but couldnít mount a challenge to Jones, who cruised to a four-length win.
After dropping to fourth in the early going, Fuller slipped past Kevin Morgan to retake the third position on lap 16. He trailed the lead duo to the checkers. Morgan was fourth to the line, while Ronnie Vance came from ninth on the grid to secure a fifth-place finish.
Devon Courtney took the lead for good on lap 8 and notched a win in the 15-lap East Coast Synthetics INEX Bandolero race.
Courtney was the pole-sitter, at 68.875 mph, but gave way to Cole Bruce on the opening lap. Bruce showed the way until lap 8 when he spun in Turn 2, bringing out the second caution flag.
Back under green, Courtney bolted from the pack, while Alex McCollum and Bradley Kilby battled wheel-to-wheel for second. Behind them, Bruce was slicing through the field, moving back up to fourth on lap 10.
On lap 11, Bruce drove underneath McCollum and Kilby at the entrance to Turn 1, making it three-wide for the runner-up. The bid backfired, though, as the three clashed and Bruce walloped the outside wall, bringing out the last of the race's three caution flags. Kilby joined Bruce on the sidelines.
As the race resumed, with five to go, Courtney blasted off to a half-straightaway edge. By the finish, his margin of victory had grown to a whopping 4.407 seconds over runner-up D.J. Elzey. Henry Broadbent Jr. was third, while McCollum rebounded for a fourth-place finish. Bradley Wilson, who started shotgun in the 12-car lineup was fifth.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Daughtrey
Home: (757) 657-6741
Track: (757) 865-7223
E-mail: daughtrey@langley-speedway.com