The 9th Annual Hampton Heat is now just days away and the entry list is starting to be finalized. On the eve of the open test, Shawn and I wanted to give you our thoughts on who to watch out for on Saturday. Mind you, our picks were done completely separate from each other, interesting how they came out very similar. What are your picks?
Greg Edwards picked up right where he left off two weeks ago at the season opener. Recording the fastest lap in qualifying to earn the pole in race one. (Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com)
There are not many drivers in the Late Model community that has won more races at Langley than Greg Edwards. Edwards kicked off 2017 in an incredible way picking up wins and leading the points. That was until a string of bad luck plagued the team. Edwards, another veteran driver who has yet to collect a prestigious Hampton Heat win, enters this weekend in a rebound after splitting twin races with Philip Morris in “The Prelude to the Heat.” As long as Edwards stays up front and avoids the black cloud that followed him around lately, look for him to be a very strong contender.
Morris is on a hot streak this summer collecting wins at South Boston, Motor Mile, and even Langley Speedway. Morris is also the current VA Triple Crown series leader with his victory at the first of the month in the Harley Davidson 200. Morris continued to find ways into victory lane the following weeks. The multi time NWASS has never won a Hampton Heat in its eight-year history. However, the way he dominated second twin feature, two weeks prior, Morris cannot be counted out.
Though Sellers is not a Langley regular he cannot be left off this list due to the sheer dominance the former NWAAS national champ & Xfinity driver showed during the first leg of the VA Triple Crown. Not to mention Sellers has won this event back in 2013 while piloting the 99 machine. What also sticks out to us here at TWR was his ability to roll out his backup car, that had no laps on it in the prior 48 hours and wheel it to two fourth place finishes. Sellers will be one car that everyone, fans, drivers, and crews will need to keep an eye on.
Just a couple of years ago the Newport News native was the man to beat when it came time for this race. 2014 seemed to be the year for Matt Waltz and his team as they entered this weekend with eight wins, fastest in practice the day before, fastest in happy hour practice the day of, and set a blistering pace throughout the race. 2014 was also when Waltz, along with Nick Smith, was penalized for coming down pit road too early at the break. The penalty put Waltz deep in the field where we would ultimately succumb to damage received in a crash. Waltz has been steady this year as we entered the weekend as the points leader and one win. This will certainly be a race he would like to check off his list and should have the car to do it come Saturday night.
Falk is a love em or hate em kind of racer. Especially when it comes to Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway. In years past, Falk was almost invincible when he pulled in and unloaded. Winning 32 races between 2009 & 2011 where he won the Late Model championship each year, then again in 2013, it is safe to say that Falk knows his way around the speedway. Not to mention of the eight total Hampton Heats, Falk has won 37.5% of the events. With a victory already this season, Falk will surely be a force to be reckoned with this weekend.
Sleeper: Nick Smith
This was a hard one! For multiple reasons. Smith is coming off a dominant 2016 season where he won the track championship at Dominion Raceway with around twelve wins. Currently sitting third in points this year at Langley Speedway with two wins under his belt, however, has run into some bad luck as well. Smith is also coming off a third place finish and is the highest ranked Langley driver in the triple crown series, where with the help of the invert, almost stole the victory. Smith will have to hope the cards fall his way throughout qualifying to avoid having to run deep in the hornet’s nest to keep his nose clean. The inaugural Hampton Heat winner will also have to put behind him the same mistake Matt Waltz made in 2014 if he wishes to call himself a repeat Hampton Heat winner. Nick has the car, the speed, and the talent to get it done. Will he have the luck?
Editor’s Pick: Connor Hall
He’s been killin it at Carteret, a track very similar to Langley when he’s gone down there and hasn’t been doing half bad here at Langley. Led a couple laps and is always running pretty fast when he doesn’t have bad luck. If he can keep his nose clean for the first hundred eighty laps, he might have something for them at the end.
Honorable Mentions: Mark Wertz, Stacy Puryear, Danny Edwards, Jr., Timothy Peters
I literally spent days racking my thoughts around this one and come to the conclusion that there are probably 10, maybe 12 drivers on our pre-entry list that could win this weekend. Stacy Puryear was almost our sleeper pick due to his performance at South Boston, however, with his limited experience at the .395-mile oval, we feel that might be his only hindrance.
Mark Wertz & Danny Edwards, Jr. are always threats to win any given Late Model race at Langley Speedway and with their vast knowledge how the track changes throughout the day will certainly help both drivers.
Timothy Peters is another driver who is someone you should pay close attention to at any track he pulls into. With Red Horse Racing suspending operations earlier this year, it has allowed for Peters to run the Late Model more. He will certainly be looking to check the Hampton Heat off his list of races won.
Philip Morris celebrates in victory lane for the first time after dominating race number two at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway. (Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com)
Philip Morris – The 4-time National Late Model champ finally got his first win at Langley Speedway in his last outing at the track. He made it look so easy that he is a good choice for winning his first Hampton Heat.
Peyton Sellers – After loaning the motor from his car he tested and practiced with at Langley, Sellers hopped in his backup and qualified well and finished fourth in both races.
CE Falk – CE has won the 200 lap event three times and finished third place in both races on NAPA Night.
Matt Waltz – Routinely challenging for the pole and wins at Langley Speedway, Matt is hungry for that first Hampton Heat win.
Greg Edwards – The Hampton Heat win has eluded the 5-time track champion but he has had the car dialed in all season so far.
Dark Horse: Timothy Peters
After having his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team unexpectedly close their doors Peters has returned to the late model series. Look for this driver to be up on the wheel this weekend trying to get his first Hampton Heat win.