Langley Speedway: Napa Auto Parts Night at the Races
HAMPTON, Va – “The boys are back in town – the boys are back in town” a song from the 70’s that plays in my head every saturday afternoon when I pull into the parking lot of Langley Speedway. This past Saturday was just about perfect for local, hometown short tack racing. All afternoon the sun was shinning, we were in the mid 70s with a nice cool breeze to boot. I decided to take full advantage of my complete day off of work and got to the track around noon, figured I would visit with those drivers who made the trip out to East Carolina the night before (that race recap can be found here -> Gene Herron Night at the Races – www.ecspeedway.com). Getting there early also gave me plenty of time to visit some of the guys we have had on the website and get some decals on their cars, it was crazy because at one point I had guys asking how they can get their own sticker! Also gave me plenty of time to get set up in my new office – I have actually commandeered the corner of the turn one spotter stand, gotta start somewhere right!
Practice was set to get underway around 2pm, I was going to follow each session on My Laps but I do believe the track had it on most laps complete and not fastest times… either way I was not able to get rMonitor to pick up times on my iPad, possible reason could have been how far I was away from the press box and how splotchy the internet connection I had, but hey I was at the track, the sun was shinning as race cars were doing their “go fast turn left dance” pretty much right under me. Late Models were the first to take to the track as that is the norm! We also had our wing champ karts running that evening, UCARS, Super Streets and Super Trucks were also all running.
Racing this evening was probably some of the most exciting that I have seen this season. You got guys and girls sitting inches off the pavement, running over powered lawn mower engines pushing each other around at 70+ mph knocking each other around, a drama (some good some bad) field UCAR division who have a whole new reason to compete for wins… A NATIONAL TITLE! Which brings me to this point if I may take a step off the path, for those readers who have not made it out to a race this year Langley has stopped with podium finishes. What does this mean you ask… now only the winner gets a trophy and is interviewed. My sports management side of me says that sucks cause now I can’t promote my sponsors who helped get me second place. On the flip side to that the UCAR division is now eligible for a legit National Title! We had pick-up trucks pretending to be gymnast, and stock cars trying out for what looked like Tokyo Drift!
Late Model Stock
Headlining this evenings carnival of madness were a pair of 75 lap late model races that you could label as some of the best this season. Of course what better way then to write a new chapter in the Smith/Waltz rivalry, as some people are calling it around the track. Two week prior if you remember both were involved in an incident early that sent both men spinning and when the long arm of the tower came down both were in the rear of the field. Ironically for them and probably even better for the fans… the two qualified 1 & 2! Waltz was some how able to set the exact time as he did two weeks prior, a 15.788 while Smith would line up outside of him running a 15.866! Mark Wertz, coming off of a hard-fought top 5 finish the night before at East Carolina Motor Speedway, grabbed the third starting spot out of fifteen total drivers to hit the track for time trials with a speed of 15.972. Fourth spot would go to previous 2014 feature winner Greg Edwards first car in the 16’s with a 16.050. Rounding out your top five was Rookie of the Year contender Connor Hall with a time of 16.024
*For those who are not familiar with twin style races here is the important facts to know; Race #1 grid is set by virtue of time trials, race #2 is set by the finishing order of race 1, all four tires that start race one must stay on the car to complete race two, of course unless one is cut, goes down or like wise.*
When the green finally waved Waltz did his best to jump out to the lead, Smith was not having this as he had pulled to the inside of Waltz and made the pass for the lead out of turn two before we reached our first caution for the broken machine of J.T. Jackson on lap 7. Jackson would eventually need a tow as it appeared he had broken something in the rear end. As the field got the one to go signal they were given to chance to take the cone, Wertz, Edwards, Gdovic and Queen were feeling gutsy as they gave up their spot to line up on the outside of the field.
Up for grabs in the first race, the prestigious COMMANDERS CUP. Top five drivers will represent each branch of the military with their respective seals adorned somewhere on their machine; Matt Waltz would represent the Marine Corp, Greg Edwards representing the Coast Guard, Brandon Gdovic with the Navy, Mark Wertz with the Air Force and Nick Smith rocking the Army colors!
As the green flag flew this time it seemed like Queen did not get the restart that he needed as he was sent three wide multiple times sandwiched in the middle and would eventually be the cause of Gdovic hitting the wall and would actually cause issues with his rear end that took him out of the second race. It didn’t take to long for Waltz to fight back and take the lead away from Smith thirteen lap’s into the feature. This would not be the end of this battle as Smith would pass Waltz yet again on lap 19, only difference this time Nick began to check out!
Edwards & Wertz who both had sold runs on the evening would find themselves quite a bit back riding out the race, maybe saving their stuff for race two and/or hoping for something to happen where they can capitalize. Sixth on back saw some of the closest racing of the evening as most of the evening as K&N Pro East Series regular Brandon Gdovic & Brenden “Butterbean” Queen with a hard-fought battle!
With just about twenty laps left in race one it looked like Waltz was eating Smith up in the corners as sparks were flying from the back of the 2 machine! There was no question that Waltz was giving everything he had and more! With ten laps to go Smith had moved his line up just about a half a groove, tempting and luring Waltz to go for the inside line and boy did he ever! With just six laps remaining Waltz had pulled even to Smith but not enough power to keep it there as Nick pulls him on the straights.
As the field got the white flag Smith and Waltz were in their on zip code, hell they were almost in their own country! Waltz did what, in my opinion any short track racer would do, the infamous BUMP AND RUN. Maybe a little too much bump caused both to snap loose, Smith matted the gas and looked like a scene from Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift and was sideways from the center off but was able to old on to capture win number one on the evening as well as take home the Commanders Cup for the United States Army! As for Waltz the contact was a tad too much and he went for the complete spin, still had enough lead to bring the car home second. Edwards, Wertz, Wyatt round out your top five.
Smith and Waltz would restart this tango for another 75 lap feature on the evening. Again as the green flag flew above Langley Speedway Matt Waltz jumped out to another early lead! Smith however would not let Waltz out of his sights until lap number seven again when the one and only caution flag flew due to the flat tire of Duane Shreeves! Lap twenty-four up in lights when Smith stuck is nose underneath Waltz but his door would as far as he would get in this feature before he started to fall back. Edwards who had made the right adjustments took second position away from Smith on lap 32 and hold on until the end. Waltz too would hold on to capture win number three on the 2014 season! Greg Edwards, Nick Smith, Mark Wertz & Casey Wyatt again were your top five finishers.
Have to give a shout out to Wertz and his entire crew! Just one weekend after being featured on the website he comes home with three top five finishes in two days running at two separate tracks! A shout out to Wyatt who brought home two top five finishes on the night. Spoke to Casey after both races he let me know he had tried a few different things on the race car, is going to take the information he got from the car tonight and will work on bringing an even better package in two weeks.
The Rhonda Clairborne sponsored wing karts were the first order of business on this beautiful evening running a twenty lap feature. If you have never seen these guys and girls run it’s just like watching Daytona or Talladega, you must have a drafting partner(s) or you are going to the back and quick! Aaron Leach, a long time Kart Club member snatched the lead from pole sitter Angelia-Maria Steele pretty early in the race and with the help of Tommy Jackson Jr., he would find his first win on the season. Amanda Frye, who has been featured here had a great starting position (7th) and ran as high as fourth for the first half of the race, she said her kart just started to get away from her. She would eventually fall back to teammate Bill Daily and would finish twelfth & thirteenth respectively!
The Carroll Automotive UCAR’s were next to take the track. Pole sitter Justin Fuller would have to start in the sixth spot by the way of the inversion. A tactic done a lot of local short tracks that I am still on the fence about. Either way Fuller did not let this get in his way as he would rally back to take the checkers and extend his points lead! As the green flag flew Matt Morgan now lined outside row one try’s to get the jump on Richard Ellis however the blue and yellow number three of Eric Schaffer has other plans and takes the lead on lap four. The race would be put on hold for a few laps as we witness our only caution as Ashten Mullet and Courtney Shifflett get tangled up. As we got back under green Schaffer drove off to a heft size lead while Fuller mounted his charge.
By lap 16 Fuller was all over Schaffer like Damon Wayans was on the cadets in Major Payne, give credit to Schaffer for not rolling over and made fuller fight for it – which by the way allowed for Jones to become part of the mix rocking one of our new decals! By lap 19 Fuller and Jones had made their way around Schaffer who would fall way off the pace and finish last place two laps down. Jones, Ellis, Shiflett, M. Morgan rounded out your top five.
The Super Streets returned to action after one of the most interesting finishes in the division. With only the top two cars being inverted for this race that placed Randy Akers on the point while Sammy Gaita lined up to his outside. Akers took this as a gift from above as he would go on to grab the checkered flag and a one way trip to victory lane. Gaita, who was fastest all day in practice would have to settle with a sixth place finish on the evening.
Two cautions waved on the evening, lap 10 then again on lap 11 which gave Abbott the opportunity to take the cone and line up to the outside of Akers. If you can remember back to a few weeks ago when Abbott kinda pushed Akers out of the way… Akers was having nothing to do with this as he powered his machine past Abbott bringing Marchetti along with him while Pereira was making his moves past Gaita and Eaker. The field would ride the rest of the race under green flag conditions where Akers took the checkered flag followed by Marchetti, Abbott, Pereira and Calaway.
The Super Trucks, who in my opinion have been and let’s be honest one of the most boring divisions at Langley for well a while now decided to give the fans a little scare along with a little gymnastics show. Chase McAdams pulled a Robbie Davis and won his third race of the season after starting in the back (don’t worry there were only six trucks anyway) and working his way up to extend his unbeaten streak… nothing we have seen before right? Just a different number on the truck.
First caution on the night came in turn two when Battoia, who was on the pole by the virtue of the invert spun out collecting Michael Waters, which would eventually end his evening posting zero laps on the night. This is why the invert ticks me off! I get it the tracks want to create great racing for the fans, but to put someone in the front of the pack that doesn’t have the experience yet to be there is why we have incidents like this!
Oh well, I am just a little tiny blogger so what do I know! The second caution of the night came when the 19 truck of Bill Wallace lined up his tumbling pass on the front stretch to impress the judges with his acrobatic abilities! The truck broke loose off of four, he looked to over correct it and well it went for a ride into the catch fence before landing on his wheels AND walking away from the scene. Colby Vance tried to make it interesting by powering by Carr on the restart but Mr. Jimmy Walker up stairs said “No, No, No, not in my house son,” and order the 44 to serve a pass through penalty!
Which was more like a short cut penalty because the 44 truck came down pit road at the same damn speed he would have carried on the front stretch, so really where was the effectiveness of that penalty, as well as putting those on pit road at risk! IT’S PIT ROAD GUYS NOT THE RACE TRACK, SLOW IT DOWN!! Either way Vance would make it back to P2 where he would finish, just another reason why Langley needs more trucks, only in that division can you be involved in a wreck, go to the back and win, or get the black flag and still come home second. McAdams will place is unbeaten streak back on the line May 31st as the Super Trucks are off until then.
Make sure to return to Langley Speedway this Saturday for more short track action. Modified’s will finally race their second race of the season (50 laps), Twin 20’s for the Grandstocks & Super Streets with 30 laps for the Pro 6 division. The HRKC Wing Champ Karts will make the long haul to South Boston for race one of two in their little traveling series!