C.E. Falk Finally Adds Martinsville to his Resume After Wild Valley Star Credit Union 300 Finish

Photo: Andy Newsome/Loose In Tight Off

There are a few things that you can expect when you go to any given race on any given weekend. There will be only one winner. There will be multiple losers. The smell of race fuel will exhilarate/excite you. There will be plenty of drama. However, throw in a $25,000 paycheck, a prestigious grandfather clock, and a $10,000 bonus to the winner of the Virginia Triple Crown what are you going to get? Carnage!

Just about every race fan in the Commonwealth, and even a few outside, all had their eyes on one facility this past weekend, the historic Martinsville Speedway. Seventy of some of the best Late Model Stock Car drivers, and arguably the best Super Late Model driver, converged on the historic paperclip hunting for the cash, the honor, and maybe even more importantly, The Clock. For those of you who may not know what we are referring to this past weekend was the highly anticipated ValeyStar Credit Union 300.

The action officially got underway early Friday morning after Hurricane Florence threatened the area during the originally scheduled date. Teams were able to hit the track for the first time in over a year after falling behind the eight ball in hopes of building a solid notebook for the two hundred-lap feature scheduled for Saturday night. Morning practice was not officially scored. However, practice later in the afternoon was, Layne Riggs found himself at the top of the speed charts.

Qualifying was the final event on the schedule Friday evening. Groups of five cars were sent out onto the track at a time and given five laps to lay down their fastest time. Stacy Puryear, clocking in at 20.100, was the man to beat when he went out almost smack dab in the middle of the session improving last years starting position by one and once again locking himself into the show. North Carolina’s and current CARS Tour driver Tommy Lemons also joined him as the only other driver locked in. All other would compete in three twenty-five lap heat races to earn their starting positions.

For those who may not know, the rest of the field for the two hundred lap feature is done so from three twenty-five lap heat race – the top ten move on. The rest of the field, or those that can answer the call, go into a twenty-five lap last chance qualifier – again top ten cars transfer to make up the forty-two car field. Historically, these races are known to be rather chaotic. I mean think about it, more than seventy cars show up, only two are locked in. One bad start, one tire out of line, or end up on the wrong side of a wreck and you’re going home. Philip Morris, Josh Berry, and Brandon Pierce were all victorious in their respective heats – all starting from the pole position. Justin T. Carroll won the last chance race to earn his spot in the show.

Once the green was displayed there was nothing short of hard racing, unexpected failures from some top teams, and of course some pretty hard wrecks. The first “segment” – if you will – was rather tame. I am sure tires and tire conservation was on the mind of a lot of teams and drivers as things were done a bit different this year. Everyone was given four tires and could do what they wanted with them, and add up to ten gallons of fuel, at both the lap one hundred and one eighty break. It was going to be interesting to see how teams were going to work their strategy.

The race did see a handful of leaders throughout it entirety and it was certainly thrown through a loop as the lap wound down. Arguably the most dominant car all night was that of JR Motorsports driver, Josh Berry. The car did not make it easy on him, however, as we learned after we won the extra cash at the halfway break from team owner Dale Jr. who was watching on Fanstchoice, that he did not have power steering for most of the first half. A six-car invert – something I think is just beyond annoying in a race with so much on the line – forced Berry to restart a couple rows deeper than he should have.

That did not stop the North Carolina based driver who found himself back up front and leading the race in no time, working to hold off the likes of Late Model and local veteran, Peyton Sellers. Who, by the way, would steal the lead away from Berry on a restart with less than ten laps to go. Sellers would beat Berry to line by mere inches before the caution was once again displayed after a huge wreck on the front stretch when Myatt Snider had engine issues and failed to get going. Berry would attempt to retake the lead in the same fashion as it was taken from him on the first attempt at a green-white-checkered, however, Berry and Sellers would make contact going into one and bring out another caution.

With Berry now out of the picture, so to speak, following such a strong run, it was up to Peyton Sellers, Layne Riggs, and Super Late Model standout Bubba Pollard. However, on attempt number two for a GWC finish, all three would have their shot at the clock erased after Riggs got in to the back of Sellers just a little too hard going back into one. Sellers would spin and take some damage from other cars getting into him and Pollard would end opt in the outside wall an unable to continue. Riggs was penalized for aggressive driving – he would come down pit road an eventually park his machine. Queue the walk from Pollard to Riggs’ pit for what should have been a simple conversation but turned into a mob of… people following Pollard.

Back on the track after three of the front-runners were taken out, it handed the front row over to Cory Heim – driving for Lee Pulliam who has been the center of attention as of late due to two disqualification at South Boston – and yet another Late Model Stock Car veteran C.E. Falk. Heim would stay low; Falk would take the cone and restart to his right. Once the caution car was off the track and the field hit the restart box it appeared that Falk got going just a little better than Heim and nosed him out at the line – according to the scoring transponders. This is important to note because yet another and one last caution was displayed for wrecking cars throughout turns one and two.

NASCAR officials, after deliberating for about fifteen minutes, declared C.E Falk the winner in one of the most controversial ways possible after going back to what race director Lynn Carroll said was the last completed green flag lap. The one that was completed when the cars crossed the line after the restart – a procedure that Carroll has said has been in the rulebook for Late Model Stocks for a while. This despite what fans in the stands and watching on Fanschoice saw where Heim was in front of Falk once the caution was displayed. Heim would be scored second followed by Brandon Pierce, Trevor Ward, and Peyton Sellers.

“We all come here wanting to win it but it’s like winning the freaking lottery, and we did,” Falk said. “We missed the wrecks, we were up front all night long and my team did it. We might not have had the very best car but we were there when it counted and this is something I’ll cherish the rest of my life.”

Corey Heim, who was making his Martinsville debut, finished second.

“I knew coming here that we had a shot at winning, just had to drive hard,” Heim said. “This is the biggest spotlight I’ve ever been in, I think a lot of people know my name now and I’m glad to be here. I just wish I could get my hands on that grandfather clock and $25,000.”

 

 

ValleyStar Credit Union 300 OFFICIAL Results

  1. #02 C.E Falk; 216
  2. #78 Corey Heim; 216
  3. #42 Brandon Pierce; 216
  4. #97 Trevor Ward; 216
  5. #26 Peyton Sellers; 216
  6. #57 Justin T. Carroll; 216
  7. #18 Ty Gibbs; 216
  8. #15 Kres VanDyke; 216
  9. #16 RD Smith; 216
  10. #07 Kevin Neal; 216
  11. #41 Woody Howard; 216
  12. #01 Philip Morris; 216
  13. #8 Thomas Scott; 216
  14. #6 Lee Pulliam; 216
  15. #77 Balke Stallings; 216
  16. #54 Jeremy Burns; 216
  17. #2 Trevor Noles; 216
  18. #61 Justin Hicks; 215
  19. #88 Josh Berry; 215
  20. #17 Stacy Puryear; 215
  21. #25 Derrick Lancaster; 215
  22. #73 Bruce Anderson; 214
  23. #12 Austin Thaxton; 213
  24. #82 Timothy Peters; 212
  25. #99 Layne Riggs; 210
  26. #86 Bubba Pollard; 208
  27. #0 Matt Leicht; 197
  28. #11 Jeff Oakley 197
  29. #87 Mike Looney; 197
  30. #23 Myatt Snider; 194
  31. #5 Dexter Canipe, Jr.; 180
  32. #08 Tyler Hughes; 154
  33. #14 Ryan Repko; 142
  34. #75 Ryan Millington; 118
  35. #84 Colin Carrett; 104
  36. #04 Jonathan Findley; 101
  37. #31 Mike Darne; 100
  38. #27 Tommy Lemons, Jr.; 92
  39. #22 Bobby McCarty; 87
  40. #71 Kyle Benjamin; 70
  41. #20 Grayson Cullather; 36
  42. #24 Mason Diaz, 24

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