Budweiser Night At The Races July 5th, 2014
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
at Langley Speedway - Hampton, VA
Saturday, July 5, 2014
HAMPTON, Va. (July 5) — Shawn Balluzzo led from pole to checkers to post his fifth win of the season, and third in a row, in the Budweiser 50 for the Larry King Law Modifieds, the featured event of Saturday evening’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program at Langley Speedway.
Balluzzo clocked in at 87.042 mph to nab the pole position. Robbie Babb was second-quickest and lined up on the outside of Row 1. Mike Rudy, Taylor Sarkees and Scott Lawrence rounded out the top five on the 13-car starting grid.
As the green flag fell, Balluzzo and Babb dueled side-by-side until they reached Turn 2. Motoring onto the backstretch for the first time, Balluzzo surged ahead. Babb settled into second, followed by Rudy, Lawrence and Danny Harrell, who advanced from seventh to fifth.
Babb kept it close for the first couple of circuits. Exiting Turn 2 on lap 3, though, Balluzzo turned up the wick on his #48 machine and pulled away by five car-lengths. Meanwhile, Babb had managed to separate himself from Rudy. By lap 9, the top three had opened a gap of more than half a straightaway over the rest of the field.
Balluzzo headed into slower traffic for the first time on lap 21. He emerged on lap 24 with a full-straightaway edge over Babb, who was just catching the tail of the field. With Babb sorting through the lapped cars, Rudy closed to within a car-length of the second-place runner.
The only caution flag appeared on lap 27 when Bobby Gery shot up the track in Turn 1 and came to rest against the outside wall.
Bunching for the restart, third-place Rudy was the only driver to choose the outside lane as he pulled alongside Balluzzo.
Back under green, Balluzzo and Rudy raced toward Turn 1 with Balluzzo gaining the clear-cut edge. Rudy slipped in line in second, dropping Babb to third.
Over the second half of the event, Balluzzo steadily added to his advantage. By lap 45, he had widened the gap to almost a full straightaway.
Lapped traffic threatened to become a factor in the closing laps. With an overwhelming lead, though, Balluzzo decided to simply hold his ground and follow the slower cars to the checkers. He gave up a few car-lengths of his lead, but still won by a whopping 2.538 seconds.
Rudy was second to the stripe, while Babb, Harrell and Sarkees completed the top five. Lawrence headed the second five, in sixth, followed by Kevin Adams and Donnie Holston, the final drivers to finish the entire distance. Wayne Hartley and Jack Sharkey were ninth and 10th, respectively, a lap off the leader’s pace.
In V ictory Lane after the race, Balluzzo seemed to understand that he was playing second fiddle to the track’s annual Independence Day pyrotechnic extravaganza, which preceded the Mod feature, as he gave a tongue-in-cheek assessment of his night: “How about the finale of those fireworks? They were great! The race was... OK.”
In the evening’s other feature events:
In a caution-filled 40-lapper for the Pepsi Grand Stocks, fast qualifier Brandon Hinson assumed the lead on the 31st circuit and held on at the end to post his first win.
Hinson set the pace in afternoon time trials, at 79.709 mph, then spun a “2” on the inversion wheel. He and six-time race winner Mark Frye swapped front-row positions for the start. Ritchie German, Tommy Sweeney and Andrew Condrey were third through fifth, in that order, on the 15-car grid.
Frye took the lead at the beginning of the event and brought German along with him, to second. Behind them, Hinson and Sweeney battled for third with Hinson nosing ahead to take the spot.
The first caution flag waved on lap 3 as Michael Waters slowed to a crawl in Turns 1 and 2. Lining up for the ensuing restart, fourth-place Sweeney opted for the outside lane, joined up top by Jamie Sample, Rodney Boyd, Shawn Scovel, Kevin Morgan and Jeff Driskill.
As the race resumed, Sweeney remained on Frye’s outside flank until they reached the backstretch. Heading for Turn 3, Sweeney inched ahead to grab the lead.
The second yellow flag flew on lap 4 when Morgan spun in the middle of Turns 3 and 4. For the next restart, German, Boyd, Scovel and Driskill picked the outside lane.
Back under green, Sweeney cleared German in Turn 2, but he couldn’t shake him. Hunting for the lead, German took a run at Sweeney on lap 6. Before that tussle could develop, though, Driskill spun in Turn 2 to bring out the third caution flag.
Returning to green, Sweeney bolted ahead of Sample, who restarted to his outside. Behind the leaders, Frye was off the pace with a flat left-front tire. Before he could get to the pit lane, he collided with Billy Newman at the end of the backstretch. Newman careened into the outside wall, while Frye ended up with the right side of his car’s bodywork peeled away. Needless to say, the fourth caution flag went in the air.
Hinson was the lone taker for the outside lane on the ensuing restart. When the green flag reappeared, Sweeney powered ahead, leaving Hinson to scuffle with German for second. German grabbed the runner-up position on the backstretch, while Sample eased into third at the flagstand.
A couple of laps later, Hinson switched lanes and drove underneath Sample, moving up to third. Ahead of them, at the front, German had closed in on Sweeney and was sniffing the lead.
German launched a bid for the top spot on lap 12, ducking underneath Sweeney in Turn 2. Sweeney clung to a slim margin at the stripe as the battle continued.
In Turns 1 and 2 on lap 13, Sweeney spun, bringing out the fifth caution flag and handing the lead to German. Prior to the incident, drivers had been notified that caution laps would now be scored to help move the event along.
The next green-flag run was short-lived. Working through Turns 3 and 4 after the restart, Frye spun and saw Mark Claar vault over his hood. Carl Livingston was also collected in the melee as the sixth caution flag was unfurled. Frye, Claar and Livingston were all done for the night as clean-up activities began under the red flag. And the race had yet to reach the halfway mark.
The race resumed at the beginning of lap 28 with German in the lead, followed by Hinson. German opened a three-length lead and looked to be on the way to an elusive Grand Stock win.
German’s hopes for a victory evaporated on lap 31, though, when he suddenly slowed at the entrance to Turn 1. Hinson flashed past to take the lead for the first time, emerging with a four-length advantage over Sample.
On lap 37, slower traffic came into play for the leader and Sample quickly narrowed the gap to less than two lengths.
Sample’s rally stalled there, though, as Hinson pulled away on the white-flag lap to win by 0.420-second — about two lengths. Sample was second, followed by Boyd, Sweeney and Waters.
In the 25-lap Cycle City Corp. INEX Legends race, Chris Hildebrand started on the pole, at 79.410 mph, and led all the way, surviving a late restart, to pick up the win. It was his fourth straight victory on the track, but one of those wins has been disallowed by INEX, while another is still under review, according to officials.
Saturday’s race got off to an inauspicious start as Matt Dail and Spencer Saunders spun in Turn 1 on the initial lap, bringing out the yellow flag and prompting a complete double-file restart.
Under green for a second time, Hildebrand had his hands full as Tommy Jackson Jr. ducked to his inside, while Brandon Gdovic challenged from the outside. Exiting Turn 2 for the first time, Hildebrand squirted out of the sandwich and took the lead. While Gdovic and Jackson contested the second spot, Hildebrand stretched his lead to nearly half a straightaway by lap 8.
On lap 10, Jackson slipped past Gdovic on the backstretch to move into second. Changing lanes, Gdovic drove back underneath Jackson in Turn 1 on lap 11. Jackson spun in Turn 2 to bring out the second caution flag.
Back under green, Hildebrand opened a four-length lead, while Saunders snagged the runner-up position from Gdovic. By lap 20, he enjoyed a half-straightaway margin over Saunders.
Hildebrand’s cruise to Victory Lane was interrupted on lap 24 when Brian May spun in Turn 2. Setting the running order for the “green-white-checkered” restart, Hildebrand was the leader, followed by Saunders, Gdovic, Jackson and Dail.
In the final sprint to the finish, Hildebrand quickly fashioned a two-length lead over Saunders and held that margin to the end, winning by 0.415-second. Gdovic, Jackson and Dail tailed the lead duo to the stripe.
Bradley Wilson moved out front on lap 2 and sailed to his first win in a 15-lapper for the East Coast Synthetics INEX Bandoleros. He, then, unleashed a victory celebration that was, to say the least, unique.
Devon Courtney started from the pole, at 66.186 mph. The first couple of tries at a start went awry, but the third time was the charm and he pulled into the lead.
Starting third, Wilson advanced to second on the opening circuit, then swiped the top spot from Courtney on the backstretch on lap 2. By lap 4, he had driven away by five car-lengths.
The third and fourth caution flags appeared on lap 7. Zach Lightfoot and Elysia Potter spun in Turn 3 to bring out the third yellow flag, while the other one waved when the ensuing restart wasn’t to the liking of race officials.
Back under way, Wilson eked out a slim margin over Courtney, then began to ease away. By the finish, his winning margin had swelled to 1.757 seconds — nearly half a straightaway. Courtney was second, while Lightfoot, Trevor Wells and Potter completed the top five.
After promising something different in Victory Lane, Wilson delivered when he raised his trophy over his head, then smashed it on the ground. The bits and pieces were gathered up and distributed to his crew members and supporters.
Dave Wedding picked up his third win of the season in the 30-lap Bojangles’ Enduro race. He started fourth and took the lead for good on lap 8.
Doug Patrick drew the pole for the start, but quickly ground to a halt in Turn 2, prompting the first red-flag stoppage.
Back under way, leader Scotty Buchanan pulled away by six lengths over Wedding, who was a bit slow to come up to speed.
Once he got rolling, though, Wedding tracked down Buchanan and took the lead with a high-side pass off Turn 4. A lap later, the only other red flag was waving as Elisse Mages stopped in Turn 2, right behind Patrick’s abandoned ride.
On the restart, Derrick Boggess scooted past Buchanan to take over the second position. He was making up ground on Wedding until lap 15 when he was momentarily stymied by a slower car. While Boggess struggled, Wedding extended his margin to half a straightaway.
At the end, Wedding was the winner by better than half a straightaway over Boggess. Buchanan was third, the only other driver to complete all 30 circuits. Ronald Klein and Tyler Baker were fourth and fifth, respectively, one lap down.
In the evening’s opening event, a 20-lapper for the Rhonnda Claiborne, Realtor HRKC Pro Winged Champ Karts, Aaron Leach started on the pole, at 62.538 mph, and led all the way to become the division’s first repeat winner.
The race got off to a rocky start as the first lap was marred by a multi-kart jumble in Turn 2. Tony Spechio III got the worst of the exchange as he overturned, ending his night prematurely.
On the second try at a start, Leach led Jordan Valdes, Jake Harberts, Clif Savage and Cullen Roberts in a breakaway at the head of the field. On lap 2, Harberts moved up to second, followed by Roberts, Matthew Leach and Jonathan Mullett, while Valdes got shuffled out of the lead group.
The only other caution flag flew on lap 6 when Tommy Gildea rolled to a stop in the middle of Turns 3 and 4.
Back under way, Aaron Leach, Harberts, Mullett and Matthew Leach bolted from the pack. By lap 7, they were up by half a straightaway over Charlie-Ray Lorah and Ryan Hudgins, the fifth- and sixth-place runners.
As the laps clicked by, Matthew Leach, then Mullett, lost contact with the lead duo, who maintained a disciplined nose-to-tail draft.
With at least a second-place finish all but clinched, Harberts finally broke out of line on the white-flag lap, swinging wide off the fourth corner. He couldn’t muster enough of a run to overtake Aaron Leach, though. Leach’s margin of victory was 0.109-second.
Mullett was third to the checkers, followed by outside pole starter Angela-Marie Steele, who rallied to take fourth. Shawn Gervais rounded out the top five.
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