After almost a full extra month of waiting due to Mother Nature, it is time for some of the best Late Model Stock Car drivers to get after it later this evening all battling for the prestigious trophy, points towards the Virginia Triple crown, oh and how did we almost forget… $10,000!
Twenty-five cars made the trip out for the annual Friday test session giving those of us who followed on Race Monitor all day long in our offices an idea of what to expect later this evening. A complete list of practice times can be found a little further down this column. We will say that we fully expect thirty or more cars for the actual event. Make sure you have plans to make it out later this afternoon as it will not be broadcasted on Fanschoice! Gates will open to the public at 12:15 PM, “Happy Hour” for Late Models roll off approx. 12:30 PM. Green flag is expected to to drop at 7:00 PM EDT.
So, this might be your first time out to the speedway this year and you are wondering who to watch out for, right? Well folks we have you covered in that department. If you would like to do a little homework before tonight’s feature — Help give you a leg up on your grandstand pool — take a look back at some of the previous Late Model races we have covered to form your own opinion here >> Late Model Recaps. Don’t wanna do research? That’s cool. Let’s take a look at the top five drivers we feel are going to be a threat, in no particular order of course.
Obvious, right? We know but we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t put Morris on the who to watch list. Morris certainly has made a name for himself and drawn a lot of attention to the No. 01 Trailer Town USA Chevrolet this year has he makes a solid bid for another national title. Morris has found victory lane at just about every track he’s been to this year. Even though Morris “struggled” in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown earlier this year – a similar 200 lap endurance type race – he had found victory lane seven times this year at Larry King Law Langley Speedway, often times starting in the rear of the field for the second race. Oh and not to mention Morris was fastest at the conclusion of practice Friday afternoon with a 15.816.
Danny Edwards Jr.
Take away the fact Edwards has multiple track championships, more than a decade of experience, and have completed more laps at Langley Speedway to make multiple cross country road trips across this great nation, Danny Edwards Jr. has been firing on all cylinders this year. With two wins under his belt, Edwards enters the weekend as the current points leader of the Taylor Waste Services Late Model — he leave the same way no matter what as the Hampton Heat will not count towards track points — but we think it’s more important to point out that Edwards might be the only track regular to have an answer to the pure speed of Morris. If you remember back to April, Edwards earned the pole in the DHSTS and looked to be a force until a wreck took him out. A win tonight could not come at a more perfect time as it would also be his first Hampton Heat victory but it would come on the two year anniversary of the loss of former crew chief John McMasters.
CE Falk? He doesn’t even race at Langley on a regular basis, how is he going to be a factor? Well, it’s very simply put. He’s CE Falk and if you don’t respect his ability any time he pulls into Langley Speedway then that’s your first mistake. The car number will be different on race day — he will be in a 02 car — but will still be a factor towards the front. Falk clocked in with just the eighth fastest time Friday afternoon but there was no way to confirm the age of his tires. Falk was also a major factor in the DHSTS and there is no doubt he will be a key player later tonight.
Yup, we went there! And it’s about time for this young driver to go there again! As you can see pictures above, Hall has already found victory lane once towards the end of last year at his home track and he has certainly carried that speed over into 2018. Constantly running qualifying and running up front this season and coming off of a pole and win at East Carolina Motor Speedway the week prior, Connor Hall will certainly have the momentum going for him. Our biggest concern with Hall will be his patients. 2018 has been filled with 50-75 lap sprint races. He will have to physically and mentally keep the car under him, fenders straight, and tires up for 200 laps. If he can do all three of those things he will certainly have the speed to be a contender.
Want to talk about who’s on fire this year, well see the driver pictured above. Bobby McCarty enters the 10th Annual Hampton Heat 200 not only as the defending champion but he is also the current points leader for the CARS Tour Late Model Series with one pole and four wins in nine starts. Not to mention McCarty posted the third quickest time in Friday’s test session. Traveling with the CARS Tour this year has given McCarty the chance to learn different track surfaces and really improve his skill. Look for him to hover around the top quarter of the field when it’s time to go green.
Greg Edwards: He has never won the prestigious event but is always a threat to find victory lane when he straps in at Langley Speedway. With a little luck he may come out on top.
Nick Smith: He didn’t earn the nickname “Quick Nick” for no reason. Smith is always fast around Langley and even though he is running a limited schedule this year, has already collected a win. However, could the limited race schedule this year hurt the inaugural Hampton Heat winner?
Peyton Seller: Crazy, right? How in the world does Peyton Sellers only make an honorable mention? We will just have to chalk it up to gut feeling and look to be proved wrong. Sellers is a contender everywhere he goes and he has without a doubt done his homework and is a previous winner. As the winner of the opening round of the VA Triple Crown at South Boston, will Sellers be aggressive and go for the win or play things safe to set himself up for an easier outing at Martinsville next month? Either way, Sellers could easily dominate this race tonight, only time will tell.
If you can’t be there tonight we will have you covered! Follow along with our live coverage here starting at 1:00 PM EDT >> Annual Hampton Heat 200 presented by Bayport Credit Union. We will also have limited coverage on Twitter all day as well.
UNOFFICIAL Friday Practice Times;
1 Philip Morris (CU) – 15.816
2 Peyton Sellers (CU) – 15.938
3 Bobby McCarty (HE) – 15.957
4 Justin T. Carroll (CU) – 15.970
5 Danny Edwards (HE) – 15.973
6 Matt Bowling (CU) – 15.994
7 Brandon Pierce (HE) – 16.000
8 CE Falk (CU) – 16.038
9 Garrett Bunch (HE) – 16.110
10 Timmy Phipps (CU) – 16.132
11 Woody Howard (CU) – 16.153
12 Nick Smith (CU) – 16.154
13 Justin S. Carroll (CU) – 16.207
14 Tyler Hughes (FC) – 16.214
15 Greg Edwards (HE) – 16.295
16 Grayson Cullather (HE) 00 16.295
17 Cameron Bowen (CU) – 16.344
18 Austin Thaxton (CU) – 16.383
19 Colin Garrett (HE) – 16.387
20 Casey Wyatt (CU) – 16.398
21 Terry Carroll (FC) – 16.497
22 Maddy Ryan Mulligan (CU) – 16.509
23 Duane Shreeves (CU) – 16.515
24 Thomas Marks (CB) – 16.550
25 Brenden Queen (CU) – 16.751
**practice times are unofficial and provided by the app Race Monitor. Letters next to the drivers name represent engine package. CU=Chevy Upgrade, HE=Herrington Enforcer, FC=Ford Crate, CB=Chevy Built**