Jackson, Hall, Frye, Balluzzo All Winners On Big Night At Langley Speedway
Hampton, VA (6-21-14) – The K&N cars were not the only thing running at Langley Speedway this past Saturday! Four local divisions were also called to action for their regular points races; Karts – 20 laps, Pro Six – 30, Grandstocks – 40, Modifieds – 50. If you go back and watch the races from that evening over again, which by the way you can always buy the Blu-ray/DVD or stream the replay from TM Racing Videos, you would think another full moon was in effect. Not really sure if the other drivers were excited that a national touring series was in town or just the lack of better officiating in the tower caused for some pretty interesting races.
The Karts were first to kick to the night off where their high-speed tangled attempt to get around Langley, this time the race was able to go the full distance! If you remember last time a national series was in town these guys and gals couldn’t get things to work and due to excessive cautions and a time-table to follow I believe the race was cut five laps short. We did see a new face on top of the speed chart during qualifying, Rookie of the Year contender Tyler Stallings put his number six machine at the top spot with a time around 23 seconds. Angela-Marie Steele, Tommy Jackson Jr, Aaron Leach, and Josh Ayer round out your top five.
Tyler Stallings would lead the field for most of the race until slipping up and allowing Jackson Jr along with Aaron Leach and Josh Ayer to take over the top spot. If you have ever seen a Champ kart race before then you already know if you slip up and get out of the lead draft your pretty much done for andy his would create a seventh place finish for Stallings. It also doesn’t help when your shot at staying in the lead pack by getting door slammed and shoved down bellow the yellow line, which is also what happened Saturday night
There is one thing in trying to defend your position on the track and holding the guy off behind you, then there is blatantly blocking someone. Now don’t get me wrong I am no expert in the field of champ kart racing but I can only imagine when you are quite a few car links behind the top three karts who are hooked up nose to tail you would appreciate all the help you can get. Cutting down the track and scrubbing speed from a kart that could help push you just seems like a stupid idea to me. Tommy Jackson would go on to win his first race of the season in a wing champ kart. Aaron Leach, Josh Ayer, Jonathan Mullet, and Charlie-Ray Lorah would round out your top five.
The Pro Six division, which I have been saying all year as really come a long way since Langley first started running them, has come even farther with four to five drivers able to give Landon Florian a run for his money! Twelve cars took to the track in what I believe was a Euro style qualifying (more than one car is on the track at a time) where Bobby Hall set the fastest time with a 17.184 (82.751 mph). Nelson Moody, Landon Florian, Travis Wall, and Casey Sipe would round out your top five starters.
Bobby Hall had the field covered for most of the race until Florian pulled within about a half of car length until Florian’s night was ended due to what I call poor officiating, and it is why this weeks “D’oh Moment of the Race” award goes to every single person sitting upstairs in the tower! The 07 of Maddy Mulligan breaks loose through turn two, hits where the asphalt meats the grass and sends water flying all the way up the track! No caution flag… what make things even worse they’re officials who sit at that gate who watched everything! It takes Landon Florian sliding hard up the track, smacking the outside wall and demolishing the right side of the car and his rear end, his night was clearly over!
After maybe a quarter of a century the track was cleaned up and we were back to green flag racing! Carlton would take the lead away from Bobby Hall on the restart. Looked like he was going to hold off the field and collect the win, until the white flag came out. Carlton dove into turn one and boom went his right front tire and the outside retaining wall would soon follow. This allowed for Hall to regain the lead and take home the victory!
Mark Frye looked to make it six wins on the season and he was off to a great start by putting the #29 machine on the pole for the 40 lap feature. Going out right after the K&N guys I would imagine the track would be a little different with two different types of rubber being put down. It didn’t take long for things to get dicey, Frye cleared the field going into one but his run was put to a halt as the caution came out when the field entered turn two. I was not able to see what happened but Andrew Condrey had to come down pit road with rear fender damage while Thomas Marks came to the attention to his crew with front fender damage!
Frye did an amazing job holding off both German (before spinning out by himself) as well as Hinson (spins alone out of four driving a tad bit to deep to make a move for the lead). Hinson’s caution was what lead to probably one of the worst starts in a while by German and he went flying backwards while Frye and Waters took off. The field would get the white flag next time by, cars would start to wreck out of two (could not see from where I was standing), and here is where one of the most controversial events of the night started. The tower did not throw the yellow flag and decided to finish the race, Mark Frye would take his machine back to victory lane for win number six.
**Disclaimer: For those of you who read our content might know the relationship I have with the Balluzzo family. Please take note that in no way is this article written to show a bias towards Shawn Balluzzo or his crew**
Shawn Balluzzo, returning from motor failure the previous week, was clearly the dominate car the entire evening as he put his #48 machine on the pole. In probably one of the most controversial races I have seen so far this season Balluzzo would go on to lead flag to flag and grab win number two of the season. Early in the race Balluzzo put a pretty decent gap between himself and what I would call his “arch rival,” the #11 machine of Jimmy Humblet, anywhere from four cars up to about eight cars before things started to hit the fan.
Meanwhile, rookies Taylor Sarkees (Start P5) & Jon Largena (Start P7) who have been battling week in and week out for the top spot in the rookie standings again were running together on the track. Largena would eventually make the pass on Sarkees and set his sights on fifth position currently occupied by Scotty Lawrence. As lap thirty-seven went up in lights Balluzzo started to work in some of the heaviest traffic he had seen all night while Largena looked to put some serious pressure on Lawrence!
What started to scare the Balluzzo crew was the white smoke that began to trail from the back of the #48 machine. Gene Nichols told Shawn to check his gauges, when things appeared to be okay, Balluzzo continued to do what he was doing… lead the race! With less than five laps remaining in the race Balluzzo had a half straightaway lead over Humblet. It was when the field took the white flag things went to hell in a hand basket both on the track and in the tower. Things all started with a solo spin of rookie Jon Largena who came resting safe fully out-of-the-way deep in the grass on the backstretch going into turn three (now if you remember this happened in the Grandstocks, and the tower finished the race), what does the tower do throw the yellow flag.
Largena would rejoin the field; Humblet, Harrell and Johnson would all take the cone and try their luck on the outside for a green white checkered finish… or so we thought! The green flag flew over the field, heavy smoke from the 48 machine as he clears the field going into one, what looked like a pretty easy finish for the six-time champ was put on hold again as Largena, Sarkees and others wreck on the front stretch causing yet another green white checkered situation.
The cone would come out yet again and the three same guys decided to try their luck. The green flag would wave again, and again Balluzzo with heavy smoke on throttle and would clear the field yet again going into turn one! This time we would complete the race and Balluzzo would grab win number two but of course not without some controversy! Jimmy Humblet, Mark Wertz, Scott Lawerence & Chris Johnson would round out your top five.
Here is my take on things, and you can take them however you want! I spoke to Shawn and Nichols after the race where they explained there was oil getting onto the headers which explains the small trail of smoke during the race and the heavy plume during the restarts. Naturally after the race drivers were heated, some came yelling at officials others threatened to not come back, others just drove their cars to their trailers. In my personal opinion there is no way in hell you can be angry at Shawn even if his car was leaking oil, his job when he sits his ass in that seat is to win races and thats what he did. Can you be angry at the officials absolutely. With two late cautions there was plenty of time to pull Shawn down and check to see if his car was leaking, which they did not do so in my opinion that was strike two for race director Jimmy Walker (first coming during the pro six race).
Strike three for me came when the yellow was the flag that followed the white. I was always under the impression (with Langley being NASCAR sanctioned) that they will follow NASCAR’s rules on green white checkered finishes. I was informed by an official on pit road, who has asked to remain nameless, that weekly tracks are not governed by the same exact rules. I have reached out to race director Jimmy Walker for clarification but have not received an answer yet. My major issue was the inconsistency from the tower! Not but 50 laps ago the same situation took place and you finished the race and sparing more cars being torn up. One thing I will say some kind of change needs to be made upstairs before more and more drivers get angry and take their cars elsewhere to race.
For complete recap from the Visit Hampton VA 175 K&N Pro Series East race, please follow the link –> Visit Hampton VA 175