Whelen Night At The Races May 3rd, 2014
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
at Langley Speedway - Hampton, VA
Saturday, May 3, 2014
HAMPTON, Va. (May 3) — Greg Edwards and Matt Waltz both picked up their second wins of the season on Saturday evening as the pair split the Whelen Twin 75s for the ComServe/Verizon Wireless Late Model Stock Cars, the headlining events of Langley Speedway’s NASCAR racing program.
The lineup for the first event was set in late afternoon time trials and Waltz nabbed the pole with a lap at 90.068 mph. Nick Smith was second-quickest, followed by Brandon Gdovic, Duane Shreeves and Connor Hall. Fourteen drivers posted times during the session with little more than three-tenths of a second separating the fastest and slowest.
As the opening race got under way, Waltz and Smith dueled side-by-side until the end of lap 1. Passing beneath the flagstand, Waltz gained the clear-cut advantage.
On lap 2, Smith switched lanes through Turns 1 and 2 and poked a fender underneath Waltz as they headed onto the backstretch. The two made contact in Turn 4 and Waltz spun to bring out the race’s only caution flag.
Gathering for a restart, Gdovic assumed the lead, while Hall moved up to second. Edwards, who started seventh, was in third, but gave up that spot and pulled to the outside of the leader. He was joined up top by Mark Wertz, Brenden “Butterbean” Queen and Devon Amos.
Back under green, Edwards remained on Gdovic’s outside flank and eased ahead by half a car-length at the end of lap 2. He cleared Gdovic on the back straightaway on lap 3. Gdovic settled into second, followed by Wertz, Hall and Queen.
On lap 6, Wertz launched a bid for the runner-up position, driving under Gdovic along the backstretch. Gdovic fought him off that time, but Wertz kept at it, eventually taking over second on lap 11. The tussle allowed Edwards to pad his lead to nearly half a straightaway.
Deeper in the field, Waltz was on the comeback trail, returning to the top five on lap 25. Meanwhile, Smith wasn’t faring as well. Riding along in 10th, he dropped all the way to the rear of the field after a brief joust with Mackena Bell on lap 41.
Back at the front, Edwards’ lead had grown to a full straightaway as he prepared for his first bout with slower traffic. Edwards began overtaking the rear of the field on lap 51. Wertz and Gdovic were still busy with their second-place duel, however, and were unable to close in. Behind them, Waltz had grabbed fourth place and was gaining ground.
On lap 56, Waltz slipped underneath Gdovic, looking to snag third. The two battled for a couple of laps with Gdovic retaining the spot.
At the finish, Edwards was the winner by a full straightaway — a whopping 4.044 seconds, to be exact — over Wertz. Gdovic was third, followed by Waltz and Queen. Shreeves headed the second five, in sixth, while Terry Carroll, Amos, Bell and Paige Decker completed the top 10.
In Victory Lane after the race, Edwards noted the close competition: “I say we had a bad qualifying lap. I just slipped a little bit and the field’s so tight, that’s where you’re gonna be. I don’t know what happened up front, but, next thing I know, we came around for a restart and I’m starting third or wherever we were. And I was like, ‘I’ll take the outside.’ The car was good. Man, we were really concerned about this car in practice ‘cause we haven’t bought many practice tires this year and a lot of people put on new tires and they go fast in practice. We’re kinda middle of the speed charts in practice, but, in the race, it came to life.”
Looking ahead to the evening’s second 75-lapper, Edwards continued, “Believe it or not, I was talking about adjustments right at the end of the race. Yeah, we’re definitely gonna have to adjust to it. We’ll have to tighten the car up a little bit for me. So, we’ve got a plan for it and I think we’ve got a very good plan.”
The starting order for the second race mirrored the finishing order of the first, putting Edwards on the pole with Wertz alongside, followed by Gdovic, Waltz and Queen.
As the nightcap got going, Edwards and Wertz went door-to-door for a lap with Edwards grabbing the upper hand at the end of lap 1. On lap 2, Waltz sailed past Wertz to take over second and he immediately pulled up on Edwards’ rear bumper.
On lap 4, Gdovic worked the high side to slip past Wertz for third. Five laps later, Wertz tried to regain the spot, ducking underneath Gdovic in Turn 1. Gdovic was comfortable in the outside lane, though, and fought him off after a brief joust.
The lead changed hands on lap 13 when Waltz got a run on Edwards down the backstretch. He drove under the leader at the entrance to Turn 3 and came off Turn 4 with the top spot. Just a lap later, Waltz had already opened a two-length margin.
By lap 25, Waltz’s advantage had grown to six lengths over Edwards, who was nearly half a straightaway ahead of Gdovic. Freed from his tussle with Wertz, though, Gdovic was beginning to narrow the gap.
Waltz caught up to the tail of the field on lap 47 and started to bypass the slower cars. Farther back, Bell made her first appearance in the top five on lap 50 when she slipped past Carroll.
It appeared that Waltz might be headed for some difficulty on lap 53 as he approached Shreeves, Amos and Queen, who were mixing it up in a three-way jumble. As Waltz got closer, though, the trio went single-file. Waltz had a hard time overtaking them, however, and, after four laps, Amos and Queen resumed their side-by-side battle.
The race’s only caution flag flew on lap 60 when Amos and Queen tangled in Turn 4 and Queen spun. Waltz went low and barely missed the incident.
Lining up for the restart, Gdovic and Wertz, the third- and fourth-place drivers, broke out of line and pulled to the outside of Waltz. They were joined by Smith, who gave up the seventh position.
As the race resumed, Waltz cleared Gdovic as they reached Turn 1. Edwards rushed to fill the opening and drove under Gdovic on the backstretch. At the line, Gdovic nosed ahead for second and gained the clear-cut edge on lap 61. By then, Waltz had stretched his lead to six lengths and was well on his way to the win.
At the checkers, Waltz was the winner by 1.923 seconds — about half a straightaway — over Gdovic, who fended off Edwards in the closing circuits to wrap up second. Smith tailed the top three across the line, in fourth, while Wertz was fifth. Bell was sixth, followed by Carroll, Casey Wyatt, Amos and Shreeves.
In his post-race remarks, Waltz talked about his efforts and offered a deadpan commentary on his early setback in the opening event: “We knew the car was fast all day. We were fastest in about every practice and, y’know, we just got run over in the first one. Nick decides to do that stuff every once in a while. But, glad we came back, passed a couple cars on the outside there on the start (of the second race) and that was kinda cool.”
In the evening’s other feature events:
In the 40-lap Pepsi Grand Stock race, Mark Claar was the beneficiary of an inversion of the top six qualifiers and led from pole to checkers for his first win of the young campaign.
Ritchie German was the fast qualifier, at 79.776 mph, but dialed up a “6” on the inversion wheel. In the reconfigured lineup, Claar assumed the pole position, sharing the front row with Rodney Boyd. Tommy Sweeney and Mark Frye made up Row 2, while Andrew Condrey and German were in Row 3.
As the race got under way, Claar beat Boyd into Turn 1 to take the early lead. Sweeney moved up to second, leaving Boyd to battle Condrey for third. They swapped the spot a couple of times with Boyd finally taking the position on lap 3. German made his way into the top five on lap 6 and soon joined Boyd and Condrey in the third-place tussle.
Passing the halfway mark, Claar enjoyed a comfortable four-length lead over Sweeney. Behind them, German scooted past Condrey for fourth on lap 21and set off after Boyd.
The first caution flag appeared on lap 33 when German and Boyd got together in Turn 2. Boyd tried mightily to make the save, but ended up looping his machine on the backstretch.
Bunching for a restart, German gave up his third spot in the running order and pulled alongside Claar. While he couldn’t best the leader, German did manage to slip into line ahead of Sweeney. The move didn’t stick, though, as Sweeney regained second place on lap 34.
The last of the race’s two caution flags waved on lap 35 when German spun in Turn 2, while battling with Sweeney and Condrey.
On the final restart, Claar bolted ahead of Condrey, who was to his outside. Sweeney filled the opening underneath Condrey and pulled ahead at the end of the backstretch to retake second. By then, however, Claar had already opened a three-length margin and was starting to ease away.
At the finish, Claar was the winner by 0.961-second — about five lengths — over Sweeney. Frye was third and saw his three-race unbeaten streak come to an end. Boyd was fourth and Jamie Sample completed the top five. German salvaged a sixth-place finish, while Condrey scrubbed the backstretch wall on lap 38 and dropped to seventh.
Bobby Hall took the lead on lap 4 and showed the way to his first victory of the season in a 30-lapper for the KeesVacations.com Pro Sixes.
Landon Florian was the fast qualifier, at 83.441 mph. He spun a “4” on the inversion wheel and dropped to the outside of Row 2, while Jordan Wood moved to the pole. Steve Williams shared the front row with Wood and Hall lined up to the inside of Florian.
On the start, Wood jumped out front and brought Hall along with him, to second. Florian advanced to third, while Williams retreated to fourth.
Hall initiated his bid for the lead on lap 3, ducking underneath Wood off Turn 4. He completed the pass through Turns 1 and 2 on lap 4. Florian took over second, followed by Casey Sipe and Williams as Wood tumbled to fifth.
By the halfway mark, Hall had stretched his lead to nearly half a straightaway over Florian. Meanwhile, third-place Sipe was beginning to falter. He finally retired his machine to the pits after 17 circuits, ending up ninth.
As the laps clicked off, Florian began to close in on the leader. By lap 23, he had narrowed the gap to four car-lengths and a down-to-the-wire finish seemed to be in the offing.
Florian’s rally stalled, however, as Hall maintained the four-length edge all the way to the end, winning by 0.698-second. Williams was third to the line, followed by Wood and J.B. Sipe.
Richard Ellis notched his first two wins of the season with a sweep of Twin 20s for the Carroll’s Automotive UCARs.
Time trials determined the lineup for the first race and Justin Fuller was the fast qualifier, at 73.786 mph. He spun a “2” on the inversion wheel and traded front-row positions with Matt Morgan. Jesse Jones IV and Ellis made up Row 2, while Eric Schaffer started fifth.
As the opener got rolling, Morgan and Fuller dueled side-by-side with Morgan eking out a half-length advantage at the end of lap 1. On lap 2, Fuller briefly surged ahead, only to see Morgan rally at the stripe. Morgan cleared Fuller on lap 3 and Ellis tagged along, taking over second.
Ellis held down the runner-up position until lap 12 when Fuller slipped around him at the end of the frontstretch. Ellis regained the spot off the second corner, though, and set off after Morgan. By lap 18, the lead duo was nose-to-tail.
Ellis made the winning pass on lap 19, driving under Morgan in Turns 1 and 2. He pulled even on the backstretch and finished off the move into Turn 3. Morgan tried to rally in Turn 4 and the two made contact. Ellis held onto the lead as third-place Fuller closed in.
Morgan took one last stab at the win in the final corner, looking to the outside of Ellis. He couldn’t make the move pay off, however, as Ellis rolled on to the checkers.
In the official rundown, Ellis was the winner, while Morgan failed to clear the post-race inspection and was disqualified. Fuller was credited with second place, followed by Jones, Schaffer and Courtney Shiflett.
Ellis’ win in the first race earned him the pole for the nightcap and he led wire-to-wire to complete the sweep.
In Ellis’ wake, Fuller emerged from a mad scramble in the closing laps to pick up his second runner-up finish of the night. John Matthews was third, while Jones and Ashten Mullett completed the top five.
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