Smithfield Night At The Races May 31st, 2014
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
at Langley Speedway - Hampton, VA
Smithfield Foods Night
Saturday, May 31, 2014
HAMPTON, Va. (May 31) — Greg Edwards notched his third win of the season with a pole-to-checkers run in the “Fueled by Bacon” 150 presented by Smithfield Foods for the ComServe/Verizon Wireless Late Model Stock Cars, the headlining event of Saturday evening’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program at Langley Speedway.
Edwards topped the speed chart in afternoon time trials, qualifying at 89.271 mph. Matt Waltz was second-fastest, only 7-thousandths of a second off Edwards’ standard. Nick Smith, Mark Wertz and Casey Wyatt rounded out the top five on the starting grid.
As the race got under way, Edwards bolted ahead of Waltz and hauled the field into Turn 1. Smith filled the void to the inside of Waltz and edged into second at the end of the opening circuit. He gained clear-cut control of the position on lap 2. Wyatt emerged in fourth, while Wertz fought off Brenden “Butterbean” Queen to snag fifth.
In the early going, Edwards established a three car-length advantage over Smith. That margin remained fairly constant for the first 25 laps. Meanwhile, Waltz was struggling and fell into the grips of Wyatt, who swiped the third spot on lap 28, bringing Wertz along with him, to fourth. The exchange allowed Edwards and Smith to pad their lead to a full straightaway over their closest challengers.
By the halfway mark, Edwards had widened his margin over Smith to better than half a straightaway. Wyatt had a firm grip on third place, but was still a straightaway down to second-place Smith.
Edwards’ lead had reached nearly a full straightaway when the race’s only caution flag flew on lap 89 for debris on the backstretch.
Setting the lineup for the ensuing restart, Edwards, Smith and Wyatt held down the top three spots. Wertz was fourth, but broke ranks and pulled to the outside of Edwards. Waltz made repeated stops during the caution period for adjustments and rejoined the tail end of the running order, in fifth.
Back under green, to begin lap 95, Edwards powered ahead of Wertz, leaving enough of an opening that Wertz was able to take over second. Within a couple laps, Edwards had driven away by three lengths, while Wertz had a mirror-full of Smith and Wyatt.
With Edwards threatening to check out on the field again, matters became more urgent for Smith, who turned up the heat on Wertz. An opening seemed to present itself on lap 107 when Wertz drifted wide in Turn 4 and Smith drove alongside. The two went door-to-door for a couple of laps with Wertz surging back ahead on lap 109.
After cooling his tires for three circuits, Smith made another charge at Wertz on lap 112. Again, they were side-by-side for two laps with Wertz clearing Smith on lap 114.
Second place finally changed hands on lap 116 when Wertz bobbled in Turn 1 and Smith pounced, taking the spot and opening the door for Wyatt, who grabbed third on lap 117. Ahead of Smith, Wyatt and Wertz, Edwards had driven off by half a straightaway, while behind them, Waltz was beginning to close in.
With less than 20 laps to go, Edwards ran up on Duane Shreeves, Justin Carroll and Robert Bruce. Carroll and Bruce were racing for position, while Shreeves was trying to track down Connor Hall to put himself in line for a “lucky dog” wave-around, in case of another caution flag. Edwards judiciously made his way past the slower cars, maintaining his half-straightaway edge.
Deeper in the field, Wertz hounded Wyatt for third place. He finally ducked underneath Wyatt’s #92 machine on lap 144 and they went wheel-to-wheel until lap 147 when Wyatt regained command. As they battled, though, Waltz continued to inch into the picture.
At the finish, Edwards was the winner by 1.307 seconds — almost half a straightaway — over Smith. Wyatt was third, followed by Wertz. Waltz was fifth, only two lengths behind Wertz at the end.
Hall headed the second five, in sixth. He was a lap off the pace, as was seventh-place Shreeves. Carroll and Bruce were eighth and ninth, respectively, while Queen completed the top 10.
In Victory Lane after the race, Edwards noted his team’s resurgence after taking a back seat to Waltz and Smith for the past few weeks: “We’ve been working on this thing and working on it. That first week, we really thought we had a rocketship and we lost the handle for a while. I told ‘em, ‘If we ever get the thing where I’m comfortable driving into the corners hard, we’ll win.’ And, I was loose everywhere else, but everybody else was a lot worse than me. I thought I was sliding around, but I was pulling ahead, so they must’ve been a lot worse.”
Asked about the Langley Late Model schedule, which includes events of various distances, Edwards continued, “Yeah, you guys keep it exciting for us. You’ve gotta stay on your toes around here at Langley. You’ve gotta mix it up and that makes for all sorts of racing. Some guys like to lay back and take off at the end and some guys like to charge hard all the time.”
The Late Models will be back in action next Saturday, June 7, with Twin 64s, a nod to the track’s 64 years of continuous operation.
In the evening’s other feature events:
Jimmy Humblet started on the pole, at 87.952 mph, and led all 50 circuits for his second straight victory in the Larry King Law Modified race.
Shawn Balluzzo shared the front row with Humblet and held down the runner-up spot for 43 of the 50 laps. His car seemed to get stronger on longer runs, but with five caution flags interrupting the proceedings, he never really got the extended green-flag stretch he needed to mount a challenge.
On the final restart, with 11 to go, third-place Matt Slye opted for the outside lane and used it to wrest the second spot from Balluzzo. Balluzzo regained the position on lap 47. By then, however, Humblet was long gone.
At the checkers, Humblet was the winner by half a straightaway — 1.852 seconds, to be exact. Balluzzo was second, followed by Slye. Danny Harrell and Scott Lawrence completed the top five.
In the 25-lap Cycle City Corp. INEX Legends feature, Chris Hildebrand started on the pole, at 79.829 mph, and led all the way. It was the first win in the division for the former UCAR standout, who moved up to Legends in 2012.
Tommy Jackson Jr. slipped past Chris Raiford for the runner-up spot on lap 9 and steadily closed in on Hildebrand. By lap 21, the two were nose-to-tail.
Jackson’s chances for his second straight win evaporated, though, when he skated wide through Turns 1 and 2 on lap 24. The miscue allowed Hildebrand to open at six-length advantage — to large of a deficit for Jackson to overcome in a lap and a half.
At the finish, Hildebrand was the winner by 0.667-second. Jackson was second, while Spencer Saunders, Raiford and Brandon Gdovic completed the top five.
Landon Florian was in the right place at the right time and came away with his third win of the season in a 30-lapper for the KeesVacations.com Pro Sixes.
Steve Williams was the pole-sitter, at 83.948 mph, and set the pace for the first eight circuits. When the first caution flag waved on lap 9, Williams, Florian, Travis Wall, Bobby Hall and Casey Sipe made up the top five.
On the restart, Hall picked the outside lane and roared into the lead, dropping Williams to second. The green-flag stint was a short one, ending on lap 13 when the second yellow flag flew.
Back under green, Hall and Williams escaped from the pack, while Wall rooted past Florian to take over third. On lap 22, Williams slipped in Turn 2 and Wall scooted into second. The shuffle allowed Hall to extend his lead to five car-lengths.
By lap 29, Wall had erased Hall’s advantage. He made a bid for the lead at the end of the backstretch, but he and Hall tangled. Hall did a half-spin into the infield grass, then came back up onto the track right in front of Wall, who had to stop to avoid further contact. Meanwhile, Florian ducked low and passed both cars, taking the lead as the third, and final, caution flag appeared.
On the last restart, with two laps left, Florian quickly dispensed with Jordan Wood, who was on his outside flank, and motored on to the victory.
At the finish, Florian was 0.285-second ahead of runner-up Williams. Hall rebounded to salvage a third-place result, followed by Wood and Wall.
Longtime Langley competitor Michael Waters posted his first career win in a 25-lapper for the KeesVacations.com Super Trucks, assuming the lead on the 14th circuit.
Gunning for his fourth straight victory to open the season, Chase McAdams qualified on the pole, at 75.703 mph, and led the first 13 laps. Meanwhile, Waters emerged from an early tussle with Colby Vance in the second position.
Working lap 13, smoke began to boil from the right-front of McAdams’ truck. He slowed on 14 and Waters flashed past, taking over the top spot for the first time. McAdams eventually made his way to the pits, retiring to a sixth-place finish.
Over the closing circuits, Waters managed to hold Vance, and his own excitement, at bay as he won by 0.571-second — about two lengths. Vance was second, while rookie Trevor Battoia, Jacob Carr and newcomer Will Courtier completed the top five.
In the 25-lap Carroll’s Automotive UCAR race, Justin Fuller took the lead for good on lap 21 and rolled to his third win of the season.
Fuller was the pole-sitter, at 73.538 mph, and paced the first 17 laps with Jesse Jones IV in tow. On the 17th circuit, though, he was stymied by slower traffic and Jones closed in, snatching the lead away on lap 18. Matt Morgan tried to tag along with Jones, but Fuller fought him off.
On lap 21, Fuller rallied, ducking underneath Jones into Turn 3 and retaking the lead off the fourth corner. He pulled away in the closing laps to secure the win.
At the stripe, Fuller enjoyed a five-length margin of victory — officially, 1.093 seconds — over Jones. Morgan was third, followed by a hard-charging Courtney Shiflett and Richard Ellis.
Bradley Kilby led the final 13 circuits to nab his first win of the season in the 15-lap East Coast Synthetics INEX Bandoleros race, the first feature event of the evening.
Kilby started on the pole, at 65.065 mph, but gave way to his front-row colleague, Bradley Wilson, on the opening lap. On lap 3, Kilby charged back to the front, though, taking the lead for good.
Deeper in the field, Zach Lightfoot was on the move. After drifting back a couple spots on the start, he returned to the top five on lap 2 and eventually took over second place on lap 9. By lap 13, Lightfoot had whittled a 10-length deficit down to a single car-length.
With Lightfoot poised to strike, Kilby caught a break on lap 14 as he slipped past the slower car of Xander Broadbent. Lightfoot didn’t fair as well and fell three lengths behind as the white flag waved.
On the final lap, Kilby swung wide as he exited Turn 4 for the last time and Lightfoot mounted a charge. He came up just short at the line, though, as Kilby held on to win by 0.128-second. Devon Courtney tailed Kilby and Lightfoot to the checkers, in third, followed by Henry Broadbent Jr. and Wilson.
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