Matt Carter Opens 2020 Season with Two Victories; Langley Speedway Loses a Local Legend

Matt Carter in victory lane after winning both Modified features July 11th at Langley Speedway. (Bill Carnes/Given to Fly Photography)

Hampton, Va – The Larry King Law Modifieds opened their 2020 season at none other than Larry King Laws Langley Speedway with twin 50 lap feature events. Matt Carter, following a scary accident last season where he broke his leg, returned to action to try and dethrone Shawn Balluzzo as the “Modified King.” Balluzzo on the other hand, set out to grab his 12th championship. Mark Wertz, who hasn’t raced in the modified division in a few years, also made his return after a limited schedule last season.

In an impressive field of 16 cars, Matt Carter set his machine on the pole with a 16.030 (89.158 MPH) with Shawn Balluzzo, Chris Johnson, Brandon Gdovic, and Mark Wertz made up the fast five. With the field going double with one to go, the fans were in for an exciting showdown. Once flag-man Shane Snyder threw the green flag, Carter shot to the point and took off. Balluzzo fell in line to second as Brandon and Chris went door to door for third. Wertz had cleared Adam Medek – a Southside Speedway regular – for the fifth position. Medek had issues early and ended up parking his machine on lap 3.

Wertz put himself into the battle for third with C. Johnson and B. Gdovic coming to lap 5. The three cars somehow managed to go three-wide down the front stretch resulting in Wertz and B. Gdovic making contact. Brandon ended up pulling his car to pit road which ended his night on lap 8. By lap 10. Carter had a full straightaway lead over Balluzzo while C. Johnson and Wertz battled for third allowing Balluzo to pull away and chase after Carter.

Carter worked through lap traffic easily as he lapped up to the sixth position when the caution came out for Grant Blasingame going for a spin in turn one. Bunching up the field with 10 laps to go. On the restart, Carter got the perfect start and sailed into turn one. Wertz took the cone and settled into second with Balluzzo falling to third for a brief moment. Wertz didn’t let Carter get too far before Balluzzo made the move back to Wertz inside. Balluzzo made a little contact with Wertz in turn one to clear him for second.

With the checkered flag flying for the first time this season Matt Carter took the win going flag-to-flag. Shawn Balluzzo, Mark Wertz, Chris Johnson, and Jamie Sample rounded out the top five finishers – the only cars on the lead lap.

With the NASCAR rule to invert at least the top eight from the first race, that put another Southside Speedway regular, Michael Johnson and Roger Sawyer – brother to Elton Sawyer– on the front row. Brad Adams and Jamie Sample made your row two with Chris Johnson and Matt Carter in row three. Mark Wertz moved to the rear of the field. On the start Sawyer went into turn one with Adams in tow. Michael Johnson did not get a good start at all and held up the entire top row. Chris Johnson would take over third down the backstretch as M. Johnson fell back to battle for fifth. Jamie Sample was hot on C. Johnson’s rear nerf bar for third as Balluzzo had made his way to fifth to battle Michael.

Adams managed to get a good run on Sawyer and eventually took the lead on lap 10. Sample ended up with problems on his machine as he parked it for the night. The first of two cautions during the second race would come on lap 12 after a battle for the second position between Balluzzo and C. Johnson. The two veterans would touch wheels sending the No. 48 machine up and over Johnson’s nose and into the turn two wall. The red flag would be immediately displayed to allow safety personnel to the scene. Balluzzo was transported to a local hospital where he would later succumb to his injuries.

After the extended red flag, NASCAR officials shortened the 50 lap feature to 30. Matt Carter would pick off the final few positions to pick up back to back victories to start his 2020 season.

Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway announced Monday afternoon to honor the memory of Shawn Balluzzo there will be a celebration of life at the track this Thursday, July 16th at 7pm. The service will be open to the public with grandstand gates opening at 6pm. Family and friends of Shawn will speak with Langley Speedway track chaplain Rev. Tom Potter leading the service. For those who cannot attend, the track will be streaming the service live on Facebook. The family is encouraging all attending to dress in race day attire. Additionally, a Go Fund Me has been created by family friend Matt Miller, please see all the details at the link >> Click Here to Donate.


Credit: Dinah Marie Photography



Race 1 Results;

  1. #78 Matt Carter; 50
  2. #48 Shawn Balluzo; 50
  3. #19 Mark Wertz; 50
  4. #36 Chris Johnson; 50
  5. #28 Jamie Sample; 50
  6. #38 Michael Johnson; 49
  7. #51 Roger Sawyer; 49
  8. #5 Kyle Fowler; 49
  9. #47 Rick Gdovic; 49
  10. #16 Eric McPherson; 49
  11. #3 Brad Adams; 49
  12. #50 Grant Blasingame; 48
  13. #49 Todd Whitesell; 46
  14. #64 Brandon Gdovic; 8
  15. #18 DJ Valente; 8
  16. #29 Adam Medek; 3
  17. #44 Shawn Adkins; 0

Race 2 Results;

  1. #78 Matt Carter; 30
  2. #19 Mark Wertz; 30
  3. #47 Rick Gdovic; 30
  4. #5 Kyle Fowler; 30
  5. #51 Roger Sawyer; 30
  6. #50 Grant Blasingame; 30
  7. #16 Eric McPherson; 30
  8. #49 Todd Whitesell; 29
  9. #29 Adam Medek; 18
  10. #38 Michael Johnson; 15
  11. #3 Brad Adams; 12
  12. #36 Chris Johnson; 12
  13. #48 Shawn Balluzo; 12
  14. #28 Jamie Sample; 11
  15. #18 DJ Valente; 9

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