Greg Edwards celebrates his sixth victory of 2017 at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway Saturday, September 16, 2017. (Photo: Langley Speedway Press Release)
Hampton, VA – With an eight-point deficit, two races, and one night left in the 2017 race season at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway, Greg Edwards as crew entered the weekend with one goal in mind – win. Things would look promising for the defending division champion earlier in qualifying time trials as the Poquoson, Va, driver, set quick time with a 16.041 (88.648 MPH) second lap time. Matt Waltz would start the first of two twin features just to Edwards outside with the second fastest time during the late afternoon’s session. Connor Hall, Mark Wertz, and Brenden Queen were the fastest five cars while Lee Pulliam would qualify just ninth on the thirteen-car field.
Once the green flag was displayed and Edwards took the field into turn one, he was able to secure the top spot all to himself and start to put some distance between him and the rest of the field. Waltz would fall in into the second position keeping Edwards and the point’s championship at the end of the night in site. Mark Wertz, who had a bit of a hiccup down the backstretch on the opening lap was able to get the car back under him and drive up to the third position. Behind the leaders, fans would witness a great showing by some of the up and coming talents that Langley has to offer in the coming years within the Late Model division.
Twenty laps into the sixty-six-lap feature, the five-time winner and defending track champ, Greg Edwards, had built himself a full two-second lead over Matt Waltz and started to take care some of the slower traffic. Waltz, being the smart racecar driver that he is just settled in and clicked off laps, no need to burn up the tires. Edwards would in fact lap up to the fifth position, to include 2017 NWAAS National Champion contender Lee Pulliam, just to give you a true idea of how ‘on’ that car was in race one. Connor Hall, who we will mention more about here in a little bit, ran into what looked to be night ending issues on lap twenty-six after breaking a track bar. Matt Waltz would finish race one in the second position followed by Mark Wertz, Brenden Queen, and Cameron Bowen – earning a second top-five finish in a row for the young Chesapeake native. Throckmorton, Pulliam, and Brock would complete the top eight.
Edwards in victory lane thanked his car builder Bobby Creech for giving him a great piece. He also went on to explain it was probably one of the older cars in the field. He went on to mention that the inverts helped keep the competition honest so to speak but it puts you in a better position for a crash but he and his team were there to have fun and that’s what they were trying to do. Edwards would roll off race number two no better than eighth because of that invert.
Alex Brock, of Richmond, Virginia, would inherit the pole position for race number two on the evening due to NASCAR’s rule when it comes to twin races. Joining him on the front row was none other than defending Late Model national champion, Lee Pulliam. Chris Throckmorton, Cameron Bowen, and Brenden Queen would make up the rest of the top five starters when the race got underway.
In pretty typical fashion for 2017, race number two saw the cautions, torn up race cars and things that just make you say, dang. Brock would spin the tires at the drop of the green flag allowing Pulliam to use the outside groove to take the race lead out of turn number two. The rest of the field, for the most part, took the hint and took Brock’s outside, freight training him and Chris Throckmorton well outside the top five. Have to admit, this was the first time we have ever seen a single car lose that many spots in a row running the inside line like that.
Pulliam, however, did not even think about looking back as the veteran driver opened up about a full second lead over the field. All eyes, however, were on the No. 77 machine of Connor Hall after starting shotgun on the field with forty-lap fresher tires, had made his way up to second just ten laps in. Once to Pulliam’s back bumper, the fresher rubber proved to be the advantage and Hall was able to make the pass and take the lead.
The evenings two and only cautions both came on lap twenty-two after Thomas Marks, who would clinch Rookie of the Year honors, went for a spin between turns three and four. This would bunch the field up and allow drivers to pick their restart line as Langley Speedway has the “Cone Rule.” Edwards would pull down pit road during the caution from the second position and ultimately end up nose first in his stall. Motor issues plaguing the 97.3 The Eagle crew and instead of running and causing more issues, decided to call it a night.
On what we thought was going to be the ensuing restart, Connor Hall would elect to stay on the bottom line while Pulliam would pull up even with the Hampton, Virginia driver. Once the green flag was displayed things took a turn for the worse as Hall could not get going causing a huge pile up on the inside line. Points leader Matt Waltz was turned on the front stretch, Mark Wertz and Cameron Bowen ending up with heavy front-end damage and out of the race. Thomas Marks night also went from not that great to even worse as he got a piece of the wreck. Due to the fact, the caution was displayed almost immediately after the green and the field was frozen, Hall was still scored your leader. However, he would pit multiple times and even climb out of the car thinking is night was over again will fuel pickup issues. Due to the lengthy caution for clean up, his crew was able to get the problem resolved and their driver back on the track.
One the track was clear and the green was displayed, Lee Pulliam would find himself in control with Brenden Queen in tow, looking for that first win at home as well. The race would see no more cautions and a very hungry and very fast Connor Hall move up through the field picking off one car at a time. The lap of record was fifty-one when Hall took the lead from Pulliam and never looked back to pick up his third career Late Model Stock victory and first at home.
“We were fast in practice all day,” Connor told The Weekly Racer after the races. “We had a pretty good mock run there in final practice which gave us a pretty good indicator where we would be for qualifying. Matt only got us by about two-hundredths of a second and Greg laid down a lap like he always does. We were just running there in that first race following Matt and Greg and the next thing I know the car is trying to spin out. We found out the track bar broke in half.”
Hall was able to drive back to pit road and give his crew a car to at least work on for the second race. The only downfall to when Connor retired from the race was that he did not make it to the halfway portion of the race which made him ineligible for the cone and free pass in the second race. However, that would end up being the least of his worries.
“We started dead last there in that second race and made it up to the lead by lap thirteen or so and to make a long story short the car just cut off on me there on the restart,” Hall went on to explain. “I jammed up my teammate Mark Wertz, he ran right into the back of me. I feel really bad because it busted his radiator but on the bright side, we did get the monkey off our backs finally. I just have to thank all my sponsors and my team for really working hard.”
With the regular season at Langley wrapping up along with the NWAAS national and state points, everyone will look forward to next weekend when teams converge on Martinsville Speedway for a chance at $25,000 and Grandfather clock. We asked Hall if he would be there running for that opportunity, it seemed that plans might still be up in the air.
“You might see me at Martinsville without my car,” Hall said. “I have really been focusing on college here lately. Racing hard in the summer. School is my job outside of racing, it is really important to me to get my education and race a lot later. We have a new Hedgecock car that’s almost done so we will probably be testing that a lot this off-season. You might see us at the Thanksgiving Classic as we have run really well there and maybe at the beach race. Hopefully, we can just continue with this momentum and get us a win at one of these big races this year.”
Late Model OFFICIAL Results – Race 1
- #97 Greg Edwards; 66
- #2 Matt Waltz; 66
- #55 Mark Wertz; 66
- #03 Brenden Queen; 66
- #19 Cameron Bowen; 65
- #63 Chris Throckmorton; 65
- #5 Lee Pulliam; 65
- #9 Alex Brock; 65
- #94 Cody Carlton; 65
- #88 Thomas Marks*; 55
- #4 Duane Shreeves; 47
- #77 Connor Hall; 26
- #71 Travis Wall; 9
Late Model Official Results – Race 2
- #77 Connor Hall; 66
- #5 Lee Pulliam; 66
- #03 Brenden Queen; 66
- #2 Matt Waltz; 66
- #63 Chris Throckmorton; 66
- #4 Duane Shreeves; 66
- #94 Cody Carlton; 65
- #9 Alex Brock; 64
- #88 Thomas Marks*; 29
- #97 Greg Edwards; 22
- #55 Mark Wertz; 22
- #19 Cameron Bowen; 22
- 13. #71 Travis Wall; 20