Napa Auto Parts Night At The Races August 23rd, 2014
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
at Langley Speedway - Hampton, VA
NAPA Auto Parts Night
Saturday, August 23, 2014
HAMPTON, Va. (Aug. 23) — Matt Waltz notched his 11th and 12th wins of the season with a sweep of the NAPA Auto Parts Twin 64s for the ComServe/Verizon Wireless Late Model Stock Cars, the featured events of Saturday evening’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program at Langley Speedway.
The lineup for the first race was determined in afternoon time trials and Nick Smith nabbed the pole position, lapping the .395-mile oval at 88.615 mph. Waltz was second-quickest, only 2-thousandths of a second off Smith’s mark. Greg Edwards, Brenden “Butterbean” Queen and Terry Carroll occupied the third, fourth and fifth slots, respectively, on the 17-car grid.
As the opener got under way, Smith and Waltz battled side-by-side with Smith eking out a half-car-length lead at the end of the first lap. On lap 2, Waltz came back to lead by a nose. Continuing to inch forward, Waltz finally gained the clear-cut edge on lap 5.
On lap 8, Smith took a run at Waltz as they reached the end of the backstretch, driving under the leader in Turn 3. Exiting Turn 2 on the next circuit, however, Waltz pulled ahead by nearly two lengths. Meanwhile, Edwards enjoyed a front-row seat for the duel, riding about three lengths behind the top two.
The first caution flag flew on lap 15 when Cameron Bowen spun in the middle of Turns 3 and 4. Bunching for a restart, Waltz chose the outside lane. He was joined up top by Greg Edwards, Michael Hardin, Danny Edwards Jr. and Duane Shreeves.
Back under green, Waltz and Smith resumed their tussle with Waltz grabbing a slim lead. He cleared Smith on the backstretch on lap 17. Deeper in the field, Mark Wertz moved up to challenge Queen for the fourth spot. They traded the position three times with Wertz coming out on top.
At the front, Waltz was running his now-familiar line — about a lane up from the bottom of the track. With the inside groove wide open, Smith took several stabs at the lead. He managed to poke a fender alongside Waltz on several occasions, only to see Waltz power away off the corners.
Smith remained within striking distance until around lap 40. At that point, Waltz began to ease away from the pack. By lap 49, Waltz’s lead had grown to half a straightaway, while Smith was slipping into Edwards’ clutches. Edwards grabbed the runner-up spot on lap 50, allowing Waltz to add a couple more car-lengths to his advantage.
The last of the race’s two yellow flags waved on lap 62 when Bruce Livingston dropped well off the pace along the frontstretch, nearly collecting Queen in the process.
As the field gathered for a quick sprint to the checkers, Waltz again opted for the outside lane. Smith, now in third, followed the leader’s cue, along with Hardin, Casey Wyatt and Brandon Gdovic.
On the restart, Waltz and Edwards went door-to-door until they reached the backstretch. Cranked up on the outside, Waltz motored ahead, leaving Edwards in a side-by-side tussle with Smith.
At the finish, Waltz was the winner by 0.563-second — almost four lengths — over Smith, who got the better of Edwards in the closing circuits. Edwards was third, followed by Wertz and Queen. Hardin was sixth, while Connor Hall, Wyatt, Carroll and Gdovic completed the top 10. Langley newcomer Spencer Gallagher was 11th, the final driver on the lead lap.
In Victory Lane after the race, Waltz commented on his hard-fought win: “We were pretty good. It’s just hard to shake these guys sometimes when you get to racing so hard there. Once we had finally pulled away from ‘em, we had a pretty comfortable lead and the car was pretty good. Looking forward to the second one. The ‘green-white-checkered’ was a little hectic, but I’m glad we came out on top.”
The starting order for the second race was to have mirrored the finishing order for the first. Slated to start third, however, Greg Edwards was sent to the rear of the field for an unapproved tire change, jumbling the grid. Waltz was on the pole, but chose the outside lane, ceding the inside to Smith. Queen, Wertz and Hall made up the rest of the top five.
As the nightcap got going, Waltz bolted out front at the flagstand to take the early lead. Wertz tried to tag along with Waltz, driving to the outside of Smith, but Smith fended him off. Behind them, Queen and Hardin emerged in fourth and fifth, in that order.
By lap 5, Waltz had already fashioned a half-straightaway lead over Smith and the margin was growing. Edwards, meanwhile, was struggling to pick his way through the field. At lap 10, he was in 11th place.
Waltz’s lead was better than half a straightaway by lap 17 and he seemed content to maintain that advantage as Smith scrambled mightily to close the gap.
Back in the pack, Edwards was making some progress toward the front. He cracked the top 10 on lap 13 and took over ninth on lap 19. At that point, though, he got caught up in a protracted battle with Wyatt before moving into eighth on lap 31. He was down half a lap to Waltz.
Once he had dispensed with Wyatt, Edwards went on the charge again. He snagged seventh place from Hall on lap 34, then swiped sixth from Gdovic on lap 37. All the while, he was hoping for a “friendly” caution flag that would tighten up the field.
The race’s first yellow flag appeared on lap 49 for Bowen’s spin in Turn 3. Once more, Waltz chose the outside lane for the restart, joined by Smith, Queen, Greg Edwards and Danny Edwards Jr. Wertz was the first driver in the inside lane.
On the restart, Waltz cleared Wertz along the backstretch. Before Smith could make his move, however, and second caution flag was displayed for Evan Horne’s spin in Turn 4.
Preparing for what would turn out to be the final restart, Waltz went to the outside, followed by Smith, Gdovic, Wyatt, Danny Edwards Jr. and Justin Carroll. Again, Wertz headed the inside line.
As the race resumed, Waltz quickly cleared Wertz, who clung to a slim edge over Smith for second. On lap 51, Waltz and Smith made contact in Turn 4. Waltz held onto the lead, while Smith moved into the runner-up spot. Deeper in the field, Greg Edwards was locked in a side-by-side struggle with Hardin for the sixth position.
Over the closing circuits, Waltz strolled away from Smith and won by 0.706-second — just over four lengths. Wertz was third, fighting off Gdovic on the white-flag lap. Queen completed the top five. Hardin was sixth, followed by Greg Edwards and Danny Edwards Jr., while Hall and Gallagher rounded out the top 10. Terry and Justin Carroll were the last two drivers on the lead lap, in 11th and 12th.
Returning to Victory Lane, Waltz could only marvel at his success: “That’s awesome. I can’t believe that’s our 12th win here at Langley Speedway this year. It’s just amazing. All these guys work real hard and we got it done today. We weren’t very good in that first one, or as good as we were here in the second one. Just made a couple of changes and she took off.”
When it was pointed out that he’d enjoyed a good points night, Waltz deftly deflected the title talk: “I don’t know. We’re just gonna keep trying to get this thing right here in Victory Lane ‘cause that’s the most fun.”
The Late Models will be off next Saturday, Aug. 30, as Langley Speedway plays host to the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. The track will be closed on Saturday, Sept. 6, in deference to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series activities in Richmond.
The division returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 13, with another pair of 64-lappers. Greg Edwards will bring a 16-point lead (491-475) over Waltz into those events. The Late Models wrap up their 2014 slate with a 125-lap feature on Saturday, Sept. 20.
In the evening’s other feature events:
Landon Abbott started on the pole, at 76.304 mph, and wired the field for his second win of the year in the 40-lap Butterfoss & Barton Orthodontics Super Street feature.
While Abbott was in firm command of the event, pulling away to a half-straightaway lead in the early going, second-place Sean Calway had his hands full as he was challenged by Renno Marchetti IV, Randy Akers and Sammy Gaita. He gamely held onto the spot until lap 17 when Marchetti slipped past.
Over the second half of the event, which was slowed by only one caution flag, at lap 14, Abbott easily maintained his half-straightaway margin over Marchetti, who was unable to narrow the gap significantly.
At the finish, Abbott was the winner by 1.310 seconds over Marchetti. Gaita was third and retained the points lead, six ahead of Marchetti, 271-265. John Pereira came home in fourth, while Calway slid back to fifth at the end.
In a 25-lapper for the Cycle City Corp. INEX Legends, Chris Hildebrand took the lead on lap 17 and rolled to his fifth victory of the season.
Tommy Jackson Jr. was the pole-sitter, at 79.286 mph, and led the opening lap. On lap 2, though, he gave way to Spencer Saunders, who had started third. Hildebrand tagged along with Saunders and took over second place on lap 3.
For the next 13 laps, Saunders and Hildebrand circled the track in tight formation, while Jackson and Brandon Gdovic contested the third spot behind them.
On lap 17, Hildebrand went after the lead, ducking underneath Saunders into Turn 1 and completing the pass off Turn 2. Though brief, the exchange allowed Jackson and Gdovic to close in on the front two.
The third-place tussle heated up on lap 20 when Jackson drifted wide in Turn 4, allowing Gdovic to close in. Gdovic drove underneath Jackson in Turn 4 on lap 21 and snagged the position on lap 22. Jackson rallied on lap 23, but Gdovic snagged the spot for good on lap 24.
At the front, Hildebrand enjoyed what passes for “breathing room” in the Legends division as he won by 0.208-second — two lengths — over Saunders. Gdovic was third, followed by Jackson and Matt Dail.
Fast qualifier Justin Fuller overcame a six-car inversion and picked up his seventh win of the year in the 25-lap Carroll’s Automotive UCAR race.
Fuller was quickest in time trials, at 74.826 mph, but dialed up a “6” on the inversion wheel. Courtney Shiflett moved up to the pole with Matt Morgan alongside. Richard Ellis and Tim Wilson made up Row 2, while Eric Schaffer and Fuller occupied Row 3.
The first try at a start went awry when Tommy Gildea spun in Turn 2, prompting a caution flag. The field regrouped for another attempt.
Under green for a second time, Shiflett failed to come up to speed, forcing the other drivers to take evasive action as they headed into Turn 1. She finally got going, but not until she had fallen to the back.
At the front, Morgan held the lead, while Wilson, Schaffer, Fuller and Ellis jousted for second. Fuller eventually snagged the spot on lap 6 and set out after Morgan, who had forged a commanding lead.
Fuller took the lead for the first time on lap 15 when Morgan bobbled in Turn 4. A lap later, Morgan muscled Fuller aside and regained the top spot. On lap 18, Fuller took another run to the inside of Morgan and took the lead for good in Turn 1 on lap 19.
The second, and final, caution flag waved on lap 20 for Ashten Mullett’s spin in Turns 3 and 4. As safety workers arrived on the scene, fluid was spotted along the bottom of the track and the event was red-flagged as cleanup activities commenced.
Bunching for a restart, Fuller was flanked by Schaffer, who gave up the third spot in line to try his luck on the outside. Ellis, Jesse Jones IV and Gildea also picked the outside lane.
As the race resumed, Fuller shot ahead of Schaffer at the flagstand and began to pull away. Reaching the end of the backstretch, Schaffer, still in the outer groove, did a half-spin and looked to be headed for a certain calamity. Somehow, he managed to make a remarkable save, though he did drop to eighth.
Meanwhile, Fuller had a mirror-full of Morgan at the head of the field. The two were nose-to-tail until lap 22 when Fuller stretched his lead to two lengths. On the following circuit, Morgan slipped up the track in Turn 2 and Fuller added to his advantage.
At the finish, Fuller was the winner by 1.029 seconds — about five lengths — over Morgan. Wilson was third, followed by Ellis. Schaffer rebounded from his misadventure to salvage fifth.
Trevor Wells grabbed the lead on the white-flag circuit and held on for his first win in a 15-lap contest for the East Coast Synthetics INEX Bandoleros.
D.J. Elzey was the pole-sitter, at 66.047 mph, sharing the front row with Wells, and he nosed ahead at the end of lap 1. On the second lap, Wells skittered up Turn 2 and dropped to sixth, while three-time race winner Devon Courtney overtook Elzey for the lead.
While Courtney and Elzey duked it out for the top spot, joined by Zach Lightfoot, Wells was quickly righting the ship. He bypassed Cole Bruce for fifth on lap 3, then scooted by Elysia Potter for fourth on lap 6.
Back at the front, Lightfoot grabbed second from Elzey on lap 9. Two laps later, Wells swiped third from Elzey, who was beginning to falter.
In search of his third win, Lightfoot had closed to within a car-length of Courtney when the only caution flag waved, at lap 14, as Aidan Bolling and his left-front wheel parted company off Turn 2.
On the ensuing restart, Wells swept past Lightfoot through Turns 1 and 2 and zeroed in on Courtney. With the white flag in sight, he drove underneath Courtney off Turn 4 and took the lead in Turns 1 and 2 on the lap 15.
Coming back to the checkers, Courtney ducked underneath Wells in Turn 4 and the drag race for the win was on.
At the line, Wells was the winner by 19-thousandths of a second — about three feet. Courtney was second, followed by Lightfoot, Potter and Bradley Wilson.
Only a few years removed from his own Bandolero glory days, NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott greeted Wells in Victory Lane with the first-place trophy.
Rookie Tyler Stallings started on the pole, at 62.762 mph, and led all the way for his first win in the evening’s opening event — a 20-lapper for the Rhonnda Claiborne, Realtor HRKC Pro Winged Champ Karts.
The race got off to an inauspicious beginning as fifth-place starter John Savage spun in Turn 4 on the first lap. Along with Savage, Jordan Valdes, Charlie-Ray Lorah and Jonathan Mullett were all sidelined.
On the second try at a start, Stallings leaped out front, boosted by Angela-Marie Steele and Josh Ayer. Those three would form a stout drafting combination in the early going. At the halfway mark, they were half a straightaway ahead of the rest of the field.
On lap 11, third-place Ayer lost contact with Stallings and Steele. He dropped back and joined the second draft, which rapidly made up ground on the lead duo.
Just as they were about to overtake the two leaders, the second pack lost momentum on lap 15 when Matthew Leach climbed up on the rear of Ryan Hudgins’ sixth-place kart on the backstretch and went airborne for a split second. Everyone was able to continue, but the charge was effectively blunted.
While the rest of the field caught its collective breath, Stallings led a four-kart breakaway, tailed by Steele, Ayer and Shawn Gervais.
Gervais was able to keep up the pace until lap 17. A lap later, Ayer also began to slip back as Stallings and Steele motored toward the finish.
At the checkers, Stallings was the winner by 77-thousandths of a second — a single length — over Steele. Ayer was third, followed by Gervais and Harry Leach.
• • •
MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Daughtrey
Home: (757) 657-6741
Track: (757) 865-7223