Pomoco Opening Night Race Report

NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
at Langley Speedway – Hampton, VA
Pomoco Auto Group Night (2015 Season Opener)
Race Report
Saturday, April 4, 2015

HAMPTON, Va. (April 4) — Greg Edwards launched the defense of his track title in grand style on Saturday evening, rolling to victory in the Pomoco Auto Group 100 for the ComServe/Verizon Wireless Late Model Stock Cars, the featured event of the season-opening NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program at Langley Speedway.
Tommy Lemons Jr., the 2014 Southern National Motorsports Park champion and 2013 winner of Martinsville Speedway’s Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 300, stole a bit of the spotlight in qualifying. Making his first Langley appearance, he circled the .395-mile oval at 89.722 mph to grab the pole. Edwards was second-fastest, just 48-thousandths of a second off Lemons’ pace. Mark Wertz, Connor Hall and Danny Edwards Jr. rounded out the top five on the 18-car grid.
The first two attempts at a start went awry. On the first try, Robert Bruce spun in Turn 3. On the second, Robert Bruce, Kevin Bruce, Macy Causey and Cameron Bowen locked horns at the end of the backstretch.
The third time proved to be the charm as Edwards got the drop on Lemons and hauled the field into Turn 1. Hall had a brief look to the outside of Lemons, but couldn’t pull off the pass. Lemons settled into second, followed by Mark Wertz. Hall soon gave way to Nick Smith, who moved up to fourth.
At the front, Edwards enjoyed a four car-length advantage over Lemons, who had his hands full with a challenge from Wertz.
The last of the race’s three caution flags waved on lap 8 when Justin S. Carroll lost an engine on the backstretch and oiled down Turns 3 and 4. Edwards somehow managed to skate through the mess. Lemons, though, wasn’t as fortunate as he walloped the outside wall in Turn 3, bringing his night to an abrupt halt. Hall also spun and the red flag was quickly displayed.
After extensive cleanup, the field began to circulate under the yellow flag. During the caution period, Wertz and Danny Edwards Jr. turned onto the pit lane. Wertz returned for one pace lap, then retired his machine for the evening. Meanwhile, Edwards’ crew scrambled to mend the rumpled front end of his car, sending him back out at the tail of the lineup.
Preparing for the restart, Greg Edwards held the top spot, followed by Smith. Langley newcomer Tyler Hughes was third, while Brenden “Butterbean” Queen and Michael Hardin went fourth and fifth. As the field received the one-to-go signal, Queen and Hardin broke out of line and pulled to the outside lane. They were joined up top by Duane Shreeves and Causey.
Back under green, Edwards easily cleared Queen before they reached Turn 1. Smith tagged along with the leader, leaving Queen to the outside of Hughes, who came away with the third spot. Justin T. Carroll was next up to duel with Queen.
On lap 12, Hughes slipped past Smith on the backstretch to take over the runner-up position. The exchange allowed Edwards to establish some breathing room. Behind the top three, the Queen/Carroll joust continued. Carroll finally cleared Queen on lap 15, but immediately gave way to Hardin, who moved up to fourth, bringing Casey Wyatt and Hall along with him, to fifth and sixth. On lap 28, Hall nosed ahead of Wyatt to return to the top five.
Back at the front, Edwards had stretched his lead to nearly half a straightaway over Hughes. Smith remained in the hunt. A dustup with Bowen’s lapped machine in Turn 2 on lap 40, however, cost him valuable ground as he fell a straightaway behind.
On lap 47, Edwards caught up to the tail-end of the field. Slicing expertly through the slower cars, he added to his margin, while Hughes struggled to keep pace. By lap 70, Edwards’ lead had swelled to a full straightaway.
With the laps beginning to wind down, attention turned to Hardin, who had chased down Smith and was looking for the third spot. After tailing Smith for several circuits, Hardin made his move on lap 89, ducking low off Turn 2. He nosed ahead at the flagstand and cleared Smith in Turn 2 on lap 90.
At the finish, Greg Edwards was the winner by better than a straightaway — 4.878 seconds, to be exact. Hughes was second to the line, followed by Hardin and Smith, the final drivers to complete the entire distance. Hall was fifth, a lap in arrears.
Shreeves headed the second five, in sixth, while Danny Edwards Jr., Wyatt, Terry Carroll and Queen completed the top 10.
In Victory Lane after the race, Edwards described an early scrape with Lemons: “There early, I think I might have came down a little bit on Tommy. I got a good run on him and he was just kinda there. We touched, but we didn’t get together. But, I think that might’ve bottled up the field and caused some other stuff.”
Recalling the near-miss on lap 8, he continued, “When that motor blew in front of me, it was just luck that I got through that. I slid all the way through it. Just barely didn’t hit the wall. After that, the car was pretty good. We were a little tighter than I wanted to. We weren’t handling quite as good as the car usually does, but I think everybody’s off. Everybody’s trying to get used to these new tires. Everybody had to get one race behind ‘em. I think you’ll see multiple winners. I think this is a great tire.”
Asked to expand on the challenges presented by the new tires, Edwards responded, “It’s a different compound. It’s a softer tire. It’s a smaller tire. And the track has aged a lot over this winter. It was a hard winter on it, so a lot of things have changed and I think everybody’s just playing catch-up. Everybody just wanted to get a race behind ‘em to see what their car would do. We’ve definitely got some notes to take. I think everybody else does, too, so we’ll keep with it.”
Sounding an ominous note for his competition, Edwards concluded, “I gotta thank Charlie High Racing Engines. He built stout motor. We’re gonna run this one for a while. We got a brand-new one to put in here in a few weeks, so I’m looking forward to that.”
The Late Models will be off next Saturday, April 11, making way for the Pepsi 150 for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. They will return to action on April 18 with Twin 65s, a nod to 2015 being the track’s 65th year in operation.

In the evening’s other feature events:

In a caution-free 50-lapper for the Larry King Law Modifieds, seven-time champion Shawn Balluzzo took the lead on lap 48 and held on for the win.
Robbie Babb was the pole-sitter for the event, qualifying at 88.367 mph. Balluzzo lined up on the outside of Row 1, while Matt Slye and Wayne Hartley made up Row 2. Jon Largena was fifth on the grid.
On the start, Babb beat Balluzzo into Turn 1 to take the early lead. Balluzzo slipped into second, followed by Slye, Largena and Hartley. By lap 3, Babb and Balluzzo had opened a five-length gap between themselves and third-place Slye.
Through the first 28 circuits, Balluzzo remained within a couple car-lengths of Babb’s rear bumper, occasionally closing in as the leader navigated past slower machines. On lap 29, however, Balluzzo overtook a lapped car at an awkward spot on the track and Babb suddenly bolted ahead by five lengths. Babb’s comfortable margin didn’t last for too long, though, as lapped traffic continued to come into play.
Working lap 48, Babb got boxed in by a pair of slower cars in Turns 1 and 2. Sensing an opportunity, Balluzzo leaped into the fray. Exiting Turn 4, he emerged from the jumble with the lead. Freeing himself from the snarl, Babb set off after Balluzzo with only two laps to go.
At the finish, Balluzzo was the winner by 0.302-second — a little more than a car-length. Babb was second, while Slye, Largena and Hartley rounded out the top five.

Seemingly relegated to a third-place finish, Brandon Hinson scored an unlikely victory in the Pepsi Grand Stock feature when the two leaders wrecked on what would have been the final circuit. Due to the late caution flag, the event ran one lap beyond the scheduled 40-lap distance.
Defending division champ Mark Frye claimed the pole position, at 80.727 mph, sharing the front row with Hinson. Tommy Sweeney, Carl Livingston and Andrew Condrey were third, fourth and fifth in the lineup.
After a misfire on the original start, the event got under way with Frye pulling ahead of Hinson off Turn 2 on the opening lap. Hinson settled into second, followed by Sweeney, Condrey and Jamie Sample. Meanwhile, Livingston was trapped on the high side and slid back to seventh.
By lap 15, Frye had pulled away by almost half a straightaway. Behind him, Sweeney closed in on Hinson, in search of the runner-up spot. Sweeney grabbed the spot on lap 22, but faced a steep climb as Frye had added a few more car-lengths to his already sizable advantage.
Little by little, though, Sweeney narrowed the gap. He got another boost on lap 39 when slower traffic became a factor for the leader.
As the white flag waved, Frye and Sweeney cleared the slower car and headed into Turn 1. Diving into the corner, Sweeney worked a fender alongside Frye in a bid for the lead (and the win). Exiting Turn 2, the two made contact and Sweeney began to spin. For a moment, it looked as though Frye would keep his car pointed straight. Seconds later, though, he also spun as the second caution flag flew.
As Frye and Sweeney retreated to the back of the pack, Hinson took over the top spot. Condrey moved up to second, followed by Shawn Scovel and Livingston.
Over the final “green-white-checkered” sprint, Hinson barely held Condrey at bay, eking out the win by just 59-thousandths of a second. Scovel was third, while Sample and Sweeney came home in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Livingston ended up eighth after spinning into the frontstretch wall at the beginning of the last lap. Coming to rest in a very precarious spot, between the flagstand and Turn 1, he had a front-row seat as Hinson and Condrey came to the checkers side-by-side. Fortunately, Livingston was spared any further damage as his fellow competitors darted past him, starting their cool-down laps.

Chris Hildebrand started on the pole, at 79.304 mph, and wired the field in a caution-free 25-lap feature for the Cycle City Corp. INEX Legends.
Brian May was the outside pole-sitter and stayed within striking distance of the leader in the early going. At lap 11, he pulled to within a couple car-lengths of Hildebrand’s rear bumper. After just two more circuits, however, Hildebrand had stretched his margin to six lengths as he began to ease away.
By the finish, Hildebrand’s margin of victory had grown to 2.322 seconds — better than half a straightaway. May was second, followed by D.J. Valente, Matt Dail and Mike Weddell.

In the 25-lap Carroll’s Automotive UCAR race, Tim Wilson claimed the pole, at 74.097 mph, and led flag-to-flag to notch the victory.
Eric Schaffer started alongside Wilson on the front row and hounded the pole-sitter for the lead in the early going. Nearing the midway point, though, Jesse Jones IV moved up to join the lead duo and Schaffer’s attention was split between attacking the leader and defending the second spot.
On lap 23, Jones worked to the inside of Schaffer on the backstretch. Schaffer held onto the position through Turns 3 and 4, but the brief scuffle allowed Wilson to drive away from his pursuers.
At the end, Wilson was the winner by 0.874-second — about six lengths — over Schaffer. Jones was third to the line, followed by Mike Perkins and John Matthews.

Starting from the pole, at 64.633 mph, Autumn Weaver led all 15 laps to post her first career victory in the Cycle City Corp. INEX Bandolero feature.
Outside pole-sitter Bradley Wilson grabbed the lead as the initial green flag dropped. Weaver quickly tracked him down, though, and regained command on the backstretch. Two laps later, Jacob Putnam overtook Wilson for second. The exchange allowed Weaver to pad her lead to almost half a straightaway.
After the race’s only caution flag, at lap 7, Weaver led Putnam and Wilson in a three-car breakaway. With Weaver holding a steady line around the bottom of the track, Putnam began peeking to the high side. A foray to the outside lane cost him on lap 11, though, when he slipped up the track and gave way to Wilson, Colby Flowers and Zach Lightfoot, dropping to fifth. Putnam’s bobble allowed Weaver to open a 10-length advantage with just four laps to go.
Over the closing laps, Wilson was able to slice into Weaver’s margin. Before he could mount a challenge for the lead, though, he simply ran out of time as Weaver won by 0.475-second — about four lengths. Putnam rallied to take third, followed by Flowers and Lightfoot.
• • •
MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Daughtrey
Home: (757) 657-6741
Track: (757) 865-7223
E-mail: daughtrey@langley-speedway.com

NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
at Langley Speedway – Hampton, VA
Pomoco Auto Group Night (2015 Season Opener)
Race Results
Saturday, April 4, 2015

Fin. Pos. (Car #) Driver; Laps Compl.
1. (97) Greg Edwards; 100
2. (8) Tyler Hughes; 100
3. (7) Michael Hardin; 100
4. (10) Nick Smith; 100
5. (77) Connor Hall; 99
6. (4) Duane Shreeves; 99
7. (26) Danny Edwards Jr.; 99
8. (92) Casey Wyatt; 99
9. (90) Terry Carroll; 99
10. (03) Brenden Queen; 99
11. (57) Justin T. Carroll; 99
12. (19) Cameron Bowen; 98
13. (33) Macy Causey; 94
14. (27) Tommy Lemons Jr.; 7
15. (55) Mark Wertz; 7
16. (91) Justin S. Carroll; 4
17. (29x)Kevin Bruce; 2
18. (29) Robert Bruce; 0
Pole: Lemons – 89.722 mph.

Fin. Pos. (Car #) Driver; Laps Compl.
1. (48) Shawn Balluzzo; 50
2. (44) Robbie Babb; 50
3. (33) Matt Slye; 50
4. (4) Jon Largena; 50
5. (37) Wayne Hartley; 50
6. (95) Danny Harrell; 50
7. (6) Evan Horne; 50
8. (1) Donnie Holston; 49
9. (87) Darrell Vance; 49
10. (83) Scott Lawrence; 49
11. (88) Jack Sharkey; 48
12. (16) Eric McPherson; 40
13. (51) Tony Steele; 38
14. (5) Andrew Fortin; 32
Pole: Babb – 88.367 mph.

Fin. Pos. (Car #) Driver; Laps Compl.
1. (17) Brandon Hinson; 41
2. (36) Andrew Condrey; 41
3. (6) Shawn Scovel; 41
4. (28) Jamie Sample; 41
5. (11) Tommy Sweeney; 41
6. (29) Mark Frye; 41
7. (75) Jeff Driskill; 41
8. (77) Carl Livingston; 40
9. (16) David Seed; 39
10. (7) Mark Claar; 17
11. (5) Jonathan White; 13
Pole: Frye – 80.727 mph.
* Race extended from 40 to 41
laps by late caution flag.

Fin. Pos. (Car #) Driver; Laps Compl.
1. (71) Chris Hildebrand; 25
2. (22) Brian May; 25
3. (18) D.J. Valente; 25
4. (07) Matt Dail; 25
5. (20) Mike Weddell; 25
6. (99) Sparky West; 25
7. (14) Raven Schrantz; 23
8. (16) Donnie Deibert; 23
9. (87) Tommy Jackson Jr.; 1
Pole: Hildebrand – 79.304 mph.

Fin. Pos. (Car #) Driver; Laps Compl.
1. (71) Tim Wilson; 25
2. (3) Eric Schaffer; 25
3. (5) Jesse Jones IV; 25
4. (57) Mike Perkins; 25
5. (10) John Matthews; 25
6. (11) Kevin Morgan; 25
7. (14) Dusty Connor; 25
8. (23) James Gaita; 25
9. (18) Brandon Wood; 25
10. (51) Derek Roberts; 24
11. (28) Tommy Gildea; 24
12. (8) Dean Ballew; 23
13. (4) Nick Isidro; 3
14. (7) Ashton Mullett; 3
Pole: Wilson – 74.097 mph.

Fin. Pos. (Car #) Driver; Laps Compl.
1. (18) Autumn Weaver; 15
2. (51) Bradley Wilson; 15
3. (3) Jacob Putnam; 15
4. (33) Colby Flowers; 15
5. (7) Zach Lightfoot; 15
6. (31) Cole Bruce; 15
7. (5) Bradley Kilby; 15
8. (07) D.J. Elzey; 15
9. (19) Jaiden Reyna; 13
10. (87) Aidan Bolling; 13
11. (48) Wesley Newell; 7
12. (24) Elysia Potter; 6
Pole: Weaver – 64.633 mph.