Courtyard by Marriott Night At The Races July 19th, 2014
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
at Langley Speedway - Hampton, VA
Courtyard by Marriott Night
Saturday, July 19, 2014
HAMPTON, Va. (July 19) — Mired in a funk through the first part of the 2014 campaign, Robbie Babb returned to form in a big way on Saturday evening as he led all 60 laps to sweep the Courtyard by Marriott Twin 30s for the Larry King Law Modifieds, the featured events of Langley Speedway’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program.
The lineup for the first race was determined in afternoon time trials and Babb nabbed the pole position, clocking in at 86.914 mph. Shawn Balluzzo was second-fastest, 28-thousandths of a second off Babb’s pace. Jon Largena and Taylor Sarkees made up an all-rookie Row 2, while Jimmy Humblet rounded out the top five. Less than a second separated the fastest and slowest on the 19-car grid.
As the opener got under way, Babb bolted ahead of Balluzzo at the flagstand to grab the early lead. Balluzzo settled into second, while Largena and Sarkees battled for third. Largena snagged the spot on lap 2 and brought Humblet along with him, to fourth.
The first caution flag waved on lap 3 when Rick Gdovic, Jack Sharkey and Eric McPherson spun in Turn 2. Gathering for the ensuing restart, Balluzzo headed to the outside lane, joined by Humblet, Matt Carter and Darrell Vance.
Back under green, Babb gained the upper hand over Balluzzo in Turn 2, while Humblet slipped in line ahead of Largena, taking over third.
After only one more green-flag lap, the second yellow flag flew for a scary-looking incident on the backstretch. Chris Humblet, Jimmy’s son, spun into the infield grass, then his momentum carried back out onto the track where he absorbed a wicked blow from Kevin Adams. Before the smoke cleared, McPherson had also been collected in the melee.
The race was red-flagged as safety personnel rushed to the scene. The delay was a rather lengthy one as Adams was gingerly removed from his battered machine.
Lining up for what would turn out to be the final restart, Jimmy Humblet broke ranks and pulled alongside Babb. Sixth-place Danny Harrell also went to the high side.
As the race resumed, Babb and Humblet dueled door-to-door until they reached Turn 2. Heading onto the back straightaway, Babb surged ahead and Humblet slid into second, swiping the runner-up position from Balluzzo.
By lap 15, Babb had opened a three-length margin over Humblet, who had his hands full with Balluzzo. As the second-place battle raged, Babb eased away, eventually extending his advantage to five car-lengths.
On lap 25, slower traffic came into play and Humblet chopped Babb’s lead to little more than a single car-length. He couldn’t muster a winning pass in the closing circuits, though, as Babb won by 0.372-second — about two lengths.
Balluzzo was third to the checkers and saw his four-race winning streak come to a halt. Harrell was fourth, followed by Largena. Carter and Wayne Hartley were sixth and seventh, respectively, the final drivers to complete the entire distance. Sarkees, Evan Horne and Vance rounded out the top 10, all a lap down to the winner.
In Victory Lane after the race, Babb expressed concern for Adams and Chris Humblet, then recounted his season to date: “It was a long event. I hope everything’s good from that incident down there in Turn 3 and 4. Thank God for a good race. We’ve been a little off this season. We started out the year, we did a little bit of dirt-track racing. Tried a little something different or whatever. Came back home. We’ve still got a little bit of work to do.”
The lineup for the second race mirrored the finishing order of the first one, putting Babb and Humblet on the front row. The field was jumbled, though, when Balluzzo ground to a halt in Turn 3 as the field was heading toward the initial green flag. The caution flag was quickly displayed and Balluzzo headed to the pit lane. Largena, due to start fifth, also pitted during the caution period. Both drivers returned at the rear of the pack.
On the next try at a start, Humblet remained on Babb’s outside flank and edged half a car-length ahead off Turn 2. Returning to the stripe, however, Babb eked out a slim advantage. He cleared Humblet on the backstretch on lap 2 and immediately pulled away by three lengths. Harrell emerged from the shuffle in third and trailed Humblet by five lengths.
The second yellow flag appeared on lap 6 for Sarkees’ spin on the backstretch. Fourth-place Carter headed the outside lane for the restart, followed by Balluzzo, Gdovic, Bobby Gery and Largena.
Before another lap could be completed, the third caution flag was unfurled when Carter spun in Turn 2. Preparing for the restart, Humblet opted for the outside lane, along with Balluzzo, who was up to sixth, Gdovic, Gery and Sarkees.
As the race resumed, Humblet again put up a tussle before giving way to Babb in Turn 1 on lap 7. He retained the runner-up spot, though, while Balluzzo pestered Harrell for third, finally nabbing the position on lap 14. At that point, half a straightaway separated the lead duo from Balluzzo.
At lap 22, Babb was up by almost three lengths over Humblet, who saw Balluzzo growing larger in his mirror. Before the battle could develop further, though, the final caution flag waved when Sarkees spun in Turn 4 on lap 23.
Setting the running order for the last restart, Babb and Humblet were 1-2, followed by Balluzzo, Harrell and Hartley. Balluzzo chose the outside lane, joined by Gdovic, Gery and Sharkey.
Under green for a dash to the finish, Babb powered ahead of Balluzzo, who took over second from Humblet. Finding more bite on the high side, Balluzzo began looking to the outside of Babb. Humblet, meanwhile, began to fade, dropping almost half a straightaway behind the two leaders.
Balluzzo stayed in close contact with Babb until lap 28 when the leader stretched his advantage to three lengths along the backstretch. Balluzzo tried to rally over the last two laps, but came up a car-length short at the end. Babb’s winning margin was 0.256-second — one length.
Humblet was third, followed by Harrell and Hartley. Largena was sixth, while Gdovic, Gery, Horne and Carter completed the top 10. Vance, Sharkey, Scott Lawrence and Curtis Hughes were also on the lead lap at the checkers.
Back in Victory Lane after the nightcap, Babb noted that his second win of the evening was no cakewalk: “I tell ya’, I was a little worried. I started losing the right-rear tire probably about 10 laps to go in the race and, when he (Balluzzo) got up on the outside of me, he did what he had to do. If he could’ve hung tough another lap or so, I don’t know if I could’ve held him off.”
The next Larry King Law Modified race is slated for Saturday, Aug. 2. Only three more events remain on the division’s 2014 schedule.
In the 40-lap Pepsi Grand Stock race, Jamie Sample took the lead for good on lap 23 and drove on to his first-ever victory in the division.
Brandon Hinson was the fast qualifier, at 79.606 mph. He spun a “2” on the inversion wheel and swapped front-row positions with Ritchie German. Tommy Sweeney, Mark Frye and Carl Livingston were third, fourth and fifth, in that order, on the 14-car grid. Sample lined up sixth.
On the start, German grabbed the lead as the field headed onto the backstretch for the first time. Sweeney nosed out Hinson for second, then cleared him on lap 2. Michael Waters and Sample came away from the race-opening scramble in fourth and fifth.
On lap 3, Hinson charged past Sweeney to regain second place. The exchange allowed German to pad his lead to five car-lengths. Pulling away from Sweeney, Hinson began to close in on the leader. By lap 8, he had trimmed German’s margin to two lengths. Deeper in the field, Sample bypassed Waters for fourth on lap 13.
The first caution flag flew on lap 14 when Waters’ engine went up in a plume of white smoke. Bunching for a restart, Sample and Frye chose to test their luck on the high side. The bid paid off for Sample, who took over second place.
After just one more lap, the second caution flag waved when Mark Claar and Rodney Boyd made contact at the flagstand. Boyd ended up with a cut right-rear tire and spun in Turn 2. The run-in spelled the end of the night for Claar, who had restarted on the outside although he was ineligible to do so, having made a pit stop.
As the race resumed, German, Sample and Hinson quickly disposed of Frye, who headed the high-side contingent. At the end of the backstretch, however, German suddenly slowed and ducked to the track apron, handing the lead to Sample.
The third yellow flag appeared on lap 17 when Thomas Marks and Boyd tangled in Turn 2 and Boyd spun, collecting Livingston.
Back under green, Sample got the better of Hinson in Turn 2 to retain the lead. Hinson moved into second and began stalking the leader. Behind them, Sweeney and Frye duked it out for third. Sweeney eventually grabbed the third spot on lap 20, bringing Shawn Scovel with him, to fourth.
Coming around to complete lap 21, Hinson went after Sample for the top spot, ducking underneath the leader off Turn 4. He pulled ahead in Turns 1 and 2 on lap 22, but his stay atop the leaderboard was short-lived as Sample rallied on lap 23. Sweeney tagged along with Sample and claimed second.
The last of the race’s four caution flags appeared on lap 31 when Marks spun on the backstretch. Just before the caution, Sweeney had closed to within a car-length of Sample.
On the final restart, Sample pulled ahead of Hinson on the backstretch, leaving the door open for Sweeney. Sample was nursing a slim margin when Hinson and Sweeney made contact in Turn 4 on lap 34. The dust-up allowed Sample to widen his advantage to four lengths.
Over the closing circuits, Sweeney whittled away at Sample’s lead. He came up two lengths short at the finish, though, as Sample won by 0.406-second. Hinson was third, followed by Scovel and Frye.
Bobby Hall overcame a poor qualifying run and rolled to his third win in a 30-lapper for the KeesVacations.com Pro Sixes.
Landon Florian earned the pole in late afternoon qualifying, at 83.309 mph. Nelson Moody was second-fastest, followed by Cody Carlton, J.B. Sipe and Jordan Wood. Hall started ninth on the 13-car grid.
On the opening circuit, Florian grabbed the lead in Turn 1. Carlton moved up to second, while Moody slipped to third.
The first caution flag waved on lap 2 when Debbie Biesecker spun in Turn 4 and Dashe McLaughlin vaulted over her left-front fender. For the ensuing restart, J.B. Sipe chose the outside lane, joined up top by Hall, who had advanced to sixth, and Casey Sipe.
As the race resumed, Florian and Carlton made short work of J.B. Sipe, clearing him before the field reached Turn 1. On the backstretch, Hall made a bold bid for third, going three-wide with J.B. Sipe and Moody. Somehow, the trio managed to go door-to-door-to-door through Turns 3 and 4 without incident. Exiting the fourth corner, Hall surged into third place.
On lap 7, Hall swiped the runner-up position from Carlton. Only two laps later, he had erased a five-length deficit and was parked on Florian’s bumper.
With the leaders navigating slower traffic, Hall took a run at Florian on lap 10 and came away with the lead in Turns 3 and 4. Carlton tagged along with Hall and took over second, while Florian tumbled back in the running order.
The second caution flag flew on lap 24 when Florian cut down a right-front tire at the end of the frontstretch and veered toward the outside wall, stopping just short of a major calamity. He headed to the pits for repairs and rejoined the tail of the field for the restart.
Returning to green, Hall pulled ahead of Moody, who was to his outside, and opened a three-length margin over Carlton.
The final caution flag went in the air on lap 26 when Jordan Wood spun in Turn 2 while battling Steve Williams for sixth.
On the last restart, Hall fought off Casey Sipe, who launched from the outside lane, and Carlton, who took a look to the inside in Turn 1. Hall and Carlton distanced themselves from the pack, setting up a two-way joust for the win.
Carlton remained solidly in contention until lap 29. Exiting Turn 4, with the white flag in sight, he bobbled slightly and Hall eased away.
At the checkers, Hall was the winner by 0.537-second — about three lengths. Carlton was second, while Moody and Casey Sipe were third and fourth. Florian rebounded from his earlier misfortune to salvage a fifth-place result.
In the 25-lap Carroll’s Automotive UCAR feature, Justin Fuller took the lead for good on lap 10 and waltzed to his fifth victory of the season.
Fuller claimed the pole, qualifying at 73.405 mph, and took a commanding lead on the start when outside pole starter Courtney Shiflett failed to come up to speed immediately.
Shiflett’s struggles caused something of a logjam toward the back of the pack as the field negotiated Turns 3 and 4 for the first time. Keith Wheeler got the worst of the situation as he skittered off the inside edge of the track and became trapped in a drainage ditch in the infield, prompting the only yellow flag.
Lining up for the restart, Fuller was flanked by Eric Schaffer, who gave up the fourth spot in the running order to pull alongside the leader. Matt Morgan, Nick Isidro, Tommy Gildea and Nick Gundacker also opted for the high lane.
Back under green, Schaffer was stout on the outside and inched ahead of Fuller off Turn 2. He gained the clear-cut edge off Turn 4 as Fuller settled into second.
Fuller stalked Schaffer until lap 9 when he worked a fender underneath the leader in Turns 3 and 4. He drew even off the fourth corner and retook the lead in Turn 1 as the field began lap 10. Only three laps later, he had already driven away by nearly half a straightaway.
With Fuller disappearing into the distance, Schaffer suddenly had his hands full with a second-place challenge from Jesse Jones IV. Schaffer held him off until lap 23 when Jones nosed ahead at the line. Schaffer rallied on lap 24, retaking the position. All the while, Fuller’s lead continued to grow.
At the finish, Fuller was the winner by a whopping 6.240 seconds over Schaffer. Jones was third, followed by Morgan and Richard Ellis.
In the evening’s opening event, a 20-lapper for the Rhonnda Claiborne, Realtor HRKC Pro Winged Champ Karts, Jake Harberts took the lead on the white-flag circuit and became in sixth different winner in seven races.
Angela-Marie Steele started on the pole, 61.322 mph, and paced the first 16 laps with Tommy Jackson Jr. in tow. By lap 10, the lead draft had dwindled to four karts — Steele, Jackson, Harberts and Charlie-Ray Lorah.
On lap 12, Lorah briefly lost touch with the top three. Knowing he’d need Lorah’s drafting boost, though, Harberts slowed until he could link back up with Lorah. By lap 15, the twosome had zeroed in on Steele and Jackson.
On lap 17, Jackson abandoned Steele, going to the outside in Turns 1 and 2 to take the lead with Harberts and Lorah coming along with him.
With the white-flag flying, Harberts went after the lead. Aided by Lorah, he motored to the outside of Jackson off Turn 2 and rocketed past.
Lorah maintained a disciplined draft with Harberts all the way to the checkers. The official margin of victory was 78-thousandths of a second as the two crossed the stripe in nose-to-tail formation. Jackson was third, followed by Steele and Ryan Hudgins.
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