Author Archives: Justin Kern

Corey Heim Sets Quick Time in Hampton Heat 200 Qualifying

Cory Heim powers off turn two during qualifying on his way to take the pole. (Andy Newsome/Loose In Tight Off)

Hampton, VA– The starting line-up for the 12thannual Hampton Heat 200 has finally been set and it’s Marietta, Georgia’s very own Cory Heim who will lead the twenty-six car field to the green later this evening. Heim’s 15.605-second lap (91.125 mph) was only .042 seconds faster than former track champion Greg Edwards who will share the front row. Jared Fryar, Bobby McCarty, and Danny Edwards will make up the fastest five cars.

“Feels really good man,” Heim said after qualifying. “We came here with a little bit of an unknown with this new racecar. I think it’s the third race on it now, it ran really good at Myrtle Beach. Got to thank Lee Pulliam Performance and Toyota Racing for a really good piece.

Heim went on to add what it’s going to take from behind the steering wheel to park the car in victory lane

“Strategy is going to play a key for sure with the tire breaks at lap hundred and one fifty,” Heim added. “That an unknown for me because I have never run this race before. It’s going to take a total team effort and me doing my job keeping the car in one piece and upfront.

Interview courtesy of Langley Speedway Instagram

 

Hampton Heat 200 Starting Line Up

  1. #78 Cory Heim
  2. #21 Greg Edwards
  3. #14 Jarred Fryar
  4. #22 Bobby McCarty
  5. #26 Danny Edwards Jr.
  6. #12 Timothy Peters
  7. #24 Colin Garrett
  8. #22C Grayson Cullather
  9. #9B Alex Brock
  10. #19 Blake Stallings
  11. #03 Brenden Queen
  12. #44 Justin Johnson
  13. #77 Connor Hall
  14. #2 Brandon Pierce
  15. #9C Trey Crews
  16. #91 Justin S. Carroll
  17. #26 Peyton Sellers
  18. #40 C.E. Falk
  19. #8 Thomas Scott
  20. #29 Casey Wyatt
  21. #21 Terry Carroll
  22. #17 Stacey Puryear
  23. #9 Rodney Boyd
  24. #25 Craig Eastep
  25. #71 Rick Gdovic
  26. #55 Mark Wertz

2020 Hampton Heat 200 Who to Watch & Race Day Schedule

Hampton, VA – Usually by this time of the year we have covered several dozens of races, crowned a winner in the opening round of the Virginia Triple Crown series, and figured out who the powerhouses in the NASCAR Late Model Stock Car community are. However, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a good portion of the 2020 season had been postponed and teams have yet to really flex their muscle. However, teams from all over the region will stroll into Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway all with the same goal in mind – landing in victory lane.

Twenty plus cars are expected to participate in tonights 200 lap feature, along with three additional support divisions, from the sold-out Langley Speedway. For those fans who were lucky enough to get tickets, and for those who will be tuning in tonight on NBC Gold Track pass, here are a few drivers to keep your eyes on. In no particular order.

 

1. Bobby McCarty

The defending CARS Tour Late Model Stock Car champion is also a former Hampton Heat champion and has been on a hot streak in recent years. Though he has not had much success so far in the 2020 CARS Tour campaign McCarty traveled to Hampton, Virginia two weeks ago and kicked off the 2020 Langley season with a trip to Dale Lemonds victory lane. Finishing the rain-shortened test in the top five last night McCarty and his No. 22 Toyota Camera will be one to watch for all evening.

 

2. Cory Heim

Another regular competitor in on the CARS Tour circuit but on the Super Late Model side of things has proven time and time again he can battle for wins. Heim was another driver who finished yesterday’s test in the top five of the speed charts. Heim as little experience at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway but has proven to the Late Model, and Super Late Model community, that he can travel anywhere and be competitive. Looking for Heim to post a solid qualifying lap and keep the nose of his machine clean, if he can do this for 199 laps I would not count him out as a contender to win.

 

3. Brenden Queen

Queen has always shown he knows how to navigate the long distances races just never had luck go his way. Queen once again, albeit was a shorter race, proved that he can contend for wins if he can get the track position. The young Chesapeake driver who picked up his first Langley Speedway win of his LMSC career last year in a pair of twins almost did just that during the 2020 season opener battling door-to-door with former multi-time track champion Danny Edwards. IF Queen can snag a top ten starting position, remember to run his race and not burn his tires up, and maybe a little bit of luck Queen might just be able to help keep the trophy in the Hampton Roads area.

 

4. Connor Hall

Now, it almost seems like you have to put the driver in the “Who to Watch” category when they top the speed chart, right? I personally say the answer to that is no. Sometimes test sessions are a bit of a mind game. Throw a set of stickers on the car and go blast one quick lap while the other guys and/or gals are running on 150+ lap tires. However, Connor Hall came on strong towards the end of the season last year and enters tonight’s 200-lap feature as the defending champion. This is no normal Saturday night show for the Hampton native so he is going to have to be on top of his game, however, if you don’t keep an eye on the blue No. 77 tonight then you are doing it all wrong. As long as Hall can keep his temper under control and not stick his nose into places they don’t belong too soon there is a good chance he can become the historic races only back-to-back champion.

 

5. C.E. Falk

Ahh, the always difficult fifth spot… Trying to nail down five drivers to pay attention to when there are probably eight to ten who could win this thing. I also feel like this guy’s name always seems to find a way into our stories. The reason being is you can never write Falk off when he unloads at Langley Speedway and if you do so then you have already probably lost the race. Falk is the races only back-to-back and multi-time winner (2010, 2011, 2014) and has since taken a little bit more of a back seat in Late Model racing but once the sun goes down and the lights come on later this evening C.E. Falk will certainly be a contender

 

Dark Horse/Sleeper: Trey Crews

I think it is safe to say that Trey Crews surprised the Late Model community last year when he finished third in the Virginia Triple Crown opener at South Boston Speedway and was having a good run at the Hampton Heat until getting into some trouble. With South Boston Speedway still closed Crews does have at least one start under his belt so far this year and that is from the pole position at a race at Ace where he finished second. It’s obvious that Crew’s took some of that momentum from 2019 and used it in 2020. He will once again have his work cut out for him as some of the best Late Model Stock Car drivers will go to battle this evening. However, with a little bit of luck and a clean nose, Trey Crews could pull off a shocker tonight in Hampton.

 

Saturday – July 18, 2020

11:00AM
Gates open for LMSC only. All teams will mount their qualifying tires. These tires will remain in the tire impound area. Once all qualifying tires are mounted practice tire may be mounted

11:15AM – 2:00PM
Inspection line will be open for:

  • Courtesy inspection – Tread width, Wheel Base and Body Templates (Not Mandatory)
  • During this time each team must send a representative to draw for qualifying and complete all driver information packages

11:30AM – 12:15PM
MANDATORY LMSC driver, crew chief and spotters meeting. Meeting will be in the pavilion VIP area in turn 4

12:00PM
Sign-in and gates open for Pro Six, Super Trucks, and Super Streets.

12:30PM – 2:00PM    
LMSC Open practice. We will start with and maintain 14 cars on the track at a time. There will be a 5-minute break every 30
minutes to clear the gates and allow all other divisions to cross for tires and fuel.

2:00PM
Release LMSC qualifying tires (tires may be purged)

2:10PM – 2:25PM      
Divisional drivers meeting for Pro Six, Super Trucks, and Super Streets. This meeting will be held at the turn 2 track entrance.

2:35PM – 4:15PM
3 rounds of rotating practice for Pro Six, Super Trucks, and Super Streets. Your 3rd round will be 5 min long and will set the feature line-up. Teams can adjust on pit road during this time.

3:30PM
ALL LMSC WORK IS COMPLETE AND CARS MUST BACKED OUT OF THEIR PIT AREA at this time and proceed to the technical inspection building. All cars will qualify race ready. All cars will mount qualifying tires in their respective pit area. Maximum air pressure in the tech line is 20lbs in the left side tires and 30lbs in the right-side tires. Air pressure can be adjusted on the qualifying line. (Air can be let out only)

4:30PM
LMSC qualifying begins (three laps – 1scuff lap then green-white-checkered). All cars will be impounded in your pit stall backed in at a 45-degree angle and remain on the ground. Once the car is in place no team members or work is allowed at this time.

5:30PM – 6:00PM      
Remove transporters from the infield.

6:45PM      
Pre race ceremonies

7:00PM
Racing Begins. Race Order:

  1. Riverside Paper Pro Six (30 Laps)
  2. Harris Truck Shop Super Trucks (25 Laps)
  3. Old Skool Video Games Super Streets (50 Laps)

7:15PM – 7:45PM
LMSC Final Work Session

9:00PM APPROX
12thAnnual Hampton Heat 200

The Hampton Heat is 200 laps event with two six (6) lap controlled cautions at lap 100 and lap 150. All other caution laps will count. This is a six (6) tire feature race. Four (4) tires for qualifying and the same four (4) for the start of the feature. The additional two (2) tires can be used at either of the controlled cautions and may be scuffs or sticker tires). All six (6) tires must have been purchased and recorded by the tire officials at the track July 17th or 18th. Each team will also check in four (4) tires no more than 4/32 for emergency use if you have a flat on the rim emergency.

There will be two (2) six (6) Lap controlled cautions at lap 100 and 150 with a double file restart no cone for these restarts. During these cautions TEAMS will have the opportunity to make any adjustment/changes. The laps in all other cautions will count and the CONE re-starts will be in effect.

Lap 100 and 150 Controlled Caution / Guidelines Once Pit Road Is Open

  • TEAMS will choose to pit or stay on the track
  • TEAMS that stay on the track will determine the new re-start line-up as they are on the track
  • TEAMS that pit will be realigned as they entered pit road behind lead lap cars on the track
  • TEAMS cannot lose laps or positions on pit road while under these cautions
  • If you are the reason for the caution or enter the pits before the pits are open you must line up at the end of the longest line

*Subject To Change*

Kern: 11-time Modified Champion Shawn Balluzzo Returns Home; Earns Title of Guardian Angel

Wait a minute…. that title can’t be right? It is supposed to read Shawn Balluzzo returns to Dale Lemonds victory lane. Or, Balluzzo Earns First Victory of 2020. Or, Balluzzo Dominates Modified Feature in Triumphant Win…

Well if you stop and think about it the title to this piece isn’t really far off. Shawn did essentially return to victory lane – more than likely greeted by Dale Lemonds himself. He picked up one of life’s ultimate victories – to finally ditch that infamous limp down pit road to stand with his Father as he triumphantly watches over his family from above.

I never thought in the short time I have been covering races that I would witness something like this. Clearly, I understand that racing is a very dangerous sport, and everyone involved knows this. – trust me I know this and respect this. However, I have also witnessed this sport change over the last twenty-some years and the evolution of safety has been crazy. Plus Shawn was like Iron Man, The Energizer Bunny, and Humpty Dumpty all in one! He would pancake the wall, get out the car yelling and screaming, and chuck water bottles at you. He fell off a ladder away from the racetrack injuring himself AND STILL RACED! Shawn even got back into the cockpit of his race car when doctors gave him the worst news I imagine a father can get – your daughter has cancer. Not only did he still race but he still won.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be typing something like this. Matter of fact I sit here looking at this mostly blank piece of paper and still struggle to not only accept what happened this past Saturday night at the local short track that started everything for me but also what happened to the man and my family that not only introduced me to life in racing on the other side of the fence but honestly saved my life during the absolute worst time of my life when Terri essentially took me in as one of her own.  I struggled for a few days with myself if I should even publish something like this but because of the same things I just mentioned above felt that I should.

I’ll never forget the moment I mentioned above, the day that I knew I wanted to do more than just watch the racecars at Langley Speedway. It was towards the end of my sophomore year at Kecoughtan School. I had made a new friend by the name of David McIntosh (around the race track we all know him as Christopher).  Found out that his dad was a driver at the track. The dude with the mouse on his car is how I told him I knew what he was talking about.

As our friendship grew in school we would also hang out at the track when he wasn’t on pit road – which if you know Christopher wasn’t all that much. Till one night he needed a ride somewhere, come to find out that somewhere was his dad’s race shop. I remember that night like it was yesterday. Walking into that shop on 48th street almost 15 years ago. Seeing your No. 48 Late Model inches from my face on jack stands, lined up with Todd & Gene’s cars. Literally, star-struck to be that close, to touch an actual racecar. Then, for some reason to this day, I still don’t understand, you trusted Christopher and I to change the rear end while you built the motion simulator.

I had never been happier to lie on a dirty concrete floor and get covered in 90-weight gear oil. Then over some time, you let us do some bodywork. THEN I was invited to come down one Saturday night and hang out in the pits. I remember it was raining that day and my father had decided he wasn’t going to risk going out in the rain and the races not get in. I was thinking do I want to risk going and spending the money for it to rain. Well, I am glad that I ended up going.

That Saturday night you gave me an electric impact and the job of making sure your tires got on and off the car, stacked in the right spot, and cleaned off. It was that moment holding that impact, loosening and tightening those lug nuts that I was hooked. I wanted to be more than just a fan in the stands and I will forever be grateful and thankful for trusting a dorky 18-year-old kid with a bowl cut and no gloves to your tires that one summer night.

When I transitioned to the media side of things you were always available to me. At the track, at your house, at your shop, over the phone while you were either cutting vinyl or out putting it up somewhere. You offered me food and drink on race days. You never refused an interview. I called you and ordered 100 of my very first TWR bumper stickers; you legit printed me over a thousand. You printed a badass canvas for my wife and I to remember our wedding day. And later on in life allowed my crazy little girl to play around your pit stall with her best friend – your granddaughter.

I spent a lot of time over the Balluzzo house, watching and growing up with your kids. Feeling like I was legit a member of your family. I was blessed with a brother I never had and felt like I earned two sisters to help watch over and protect thanks to you and Terri. I got to watch you dominate Langley like it was easy. Laughing at you and Big Dave banter on the radio, writing countless stories of the 48 returning to victory lane. 2020 has been one of the most trying years in a lot of our lives and this past weekend just made it that much harder. I couldn’t let 2020 go by without one final story of Shawn Balluzzo.

Your family means a lot to me and for that, I will always be grateful to have known you. To use a quote from one of my all-time favorite movies; “Remember, kid. There’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die…”I think it is safe to say that you were both a Hero to many and a Legend of Langley Speedway. Just do me one favor, make sure you whip up on old them guys up there like you did down here.

A celebration of life for Shawn will be held at his home track of Langley Speedway this Thursday starting at 7 PM EDT. Speedway officials will open the grandstands starting at 6 PM to all of those who would like to come pay respect to him and his family. A stream of the service can also be found on the speedway Facebook page for those who cannot attend.

Troy Brickhouse Bounces Back to Claim Win Friday at Dixieland Speedway

Troy Brickhouse, #21 takes a victory lap after claiming the win in the seasons special 35-lap Rapid Ron’s Racing Sportsman event at Dixieland Speedway on Friday. Photo courtesy of Troy Brickhouse and “Club 21”.

Elizabeth City, NC – After a miserable evening at the track in the last outing a couple of weeks ago due to an engine failure, defending champion Troy Brickhouse came back Friday determined to turn things around and did just that by scoring the win.  The Elizabeth City racer never turned a lap of competition back on June 26th as his motor came apart in practice, forcing him to watch the race from the sidelines.  On Friday, his fate would change after crossing the finish line first in the season’s marquee 35-lap Rapid Ron’s Racing Sportsman event.  His efforts yielded the 42-year old a $1,000 payday after leading flag-to-flag from the pole position.

Brickhouse had to work for the victory by holding off a hard-charging Brad Cox, of Youngsville, NC, in the closing laps. Cox was on his bumper and even got alongside Brickhouse, but ran out of time before executing a pass for the lead. Mark Gonzales secured his best finish of the year after coming home in third place.

Dennis Barnes and Kevin Bray each won one of the two Little Caesars Super Streets 15-lap feature events.  Barnes started on the pole position and led for the duration en-route to claiming his third straight win of the 2020 season.  Barnes held off Chris Humblett of Shiloh, NC, who finished runner-up, and Kevin Bray secured the third and final podium position.

The starting lineup for the second race was determined by the finishing results of race number one.  The top four, however, were inverted, providing the fans a treat. Bray dominated the event after starting on the outside pole.  He quickly went to the point and didn’t look back, crossing the finish line ahead of the competition.  Barnes garnered a second-place finish, his first outside of a win in 2020, and Hunter Mason claimed a season-best third-place finish.

“We brought home a first and second with the number 20 and 28 with me driving and my young protege (Hunter Mason) on the Hardees team, said Barnes following the race.  “It’s been a great night.  I got a great crew and great sponsors.”

For the first time this season, Billy Hubbard returned to victory lane in the Budweiser Allstar Late Models.  The Cobbs Creek, Virginia native, started the event on the outside pole and quickly took control of the race by going to the point and overtaking John Staton.  In the end, Hubbard was able to make hay and notch a checkmark in the win column for car owner, HC Pritchett.  Staton finished runner-up while Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway standout, Mark Wertz, earned third-place.  It was Wertz’s first race back at Dixieland on dirt since the early 2000s.

John Staton breaks the tie from Austin Hubbard, who plans to run part-time, atop the point standings.  With the win, Hubbard moves to second, and Tom Wilson is third heading into race number four on Friday.

Trevor Battoia won the 15-circuit Biggs Cadillac Buick GMC Stock Fours competition.  Battoia’s first victory of the season put him back in contention for the points chase after a disappointing 11th-place finish in the last race due to a mechanical issue.

Points leader Chris Freeman finished second, his worst of the season, which speaks to how well the 2020 season has treated the Moyock racer.  Freeman was all smiles following the race and thanked his students at Chesapeake Career Center for their support.  AJ Smith earned his second straight podium finish, claiming third-place.

Young Emma Gordon outran nearly 50-runners to claim the win in the one-lap foot race.

Racing resumes Friday, July 17th, sponsored by Dixie 105.7, and features twin-20 lap Budweiser Allstar Late Model events. Gates open at 5:00 p.m. and four divisions of competition will start at 8:00 p.m.

For more information, please dial 252-771-5151 or visit online at dixielandspeedway.net or follow on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

# # #

 

About Dixieland Speedway:

 

Dixieland Speedway is northeastern North Carolina’s premier action track.  The 3/8-mile dirt oval has hosted exciting Friday night racing since 1983.  Long straightaways and tight turns lead to intense on-track action.  The clay track is 55 feet wide and turns one and two are banked at 12 degrees, while turns three and four are eight-degrees.  Race fans from all over the region have come to witness spectacular side by side racing through the years.  The family-friendly facility offers something for everyone as on-track action keeps fans on the edge of their seats all night long.  Refreshment and souvenir stands are on site.  Tickets for all events are available for purchase in person.  Don’t miss your chance to see why they call Dixieland, the track that started it all. To learn more, visit dixielandspeedway.net or follow Dixieland Speedway on

Racing Returns to the Historic Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway for the 70th Year of Racing

Hampton, VA – For the first time in 2020 the sounds of race engines and the smell of spent race fuel returns to the historic and fan-favorite Langley Speedway as Virginia starts to ease into what looks to be a “new normal.”

As the Governor of Virginia transitioned the state into Phase Three of re-opening Vaughn Crittenden and senior officials at the .395-mile speedway was finally to unlock and open the gates. Much later in the year than anticipated and with far fewer fans in the stands than previous opening nights but the silver lining… the speedway is open.

With only 1,000 tickets up for sale, based on the Governor’s orders, tickets went at a rapid pace and will cause local race fans to find other means to follow tonight’s action. We will have all of tonight’s action covered via our Twitter page (@TheWeeklyRacer). For those who would like to watch tonight’s action can subscribe to NBC Track Pass.

Tonight’s qualifying and race order can be found below.

 

2:00PM GRANDSTAND GATES OPEN

2:00PM PRACTICE
1. LATE MODELS (3 ROUNDS)
2. VIRGINIA SPRINT CAR SERIES (2 ROUNDS)
3. SUPER TRUCKS (2 ROUNDS)
4. UCARS (2 ROUNDS)
5. LEGENDS (2 ROUNDS)
6. BANDOLEROS (2 ROUNDS)

4:15PM DRIVER’S MEETING

4:30PM QUALIFYING
1. BANDOLEROS (EURO 3 CARS-5 LAPS)
2. LEGENDS (GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED)
3. UCARS (GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED)
4. SUPER TRUCKS (GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED)
5. LATE MODELS (SCUFF-GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED)

6:45PM PRE RACE CEREMONIES
INVOCATION REV TOM POTTER
NATIONAL ANTHEM KAYA O’BRIEN-JAMES

7:00PM FEATURE RACES
1. CYCLE CITY CORP BANDOLEROS (15 LAPS)
2. TAYLOR WASTE SERVICES LATE MODELS (50 LAPS)
3. VIRGINIA SPRINT CAR SERIES HEAT 1 (10 LAPS)
4. VIRGINIA SPRINT CAR SERIES HEAT 2 (10 LAPS)
5. CYCLE CITY CORP LEGENDS (25 LAPS)
6. HARRIS TRUCK SHOP SUPER TRUCKS (25 LAPS)
7. FARLEY FINANCIAL UCARS (25 LAPS)
8. VIRGINIA SPRINT CAR SERIES (25 LAPS)
9. TAYLOR WASTE SERVICES LATE MODELS (50 LAPS)

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