Hampton, VA – The stage is finally set for the largest and richest Modified race of the season this weekend at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway as more than twenty open wheel machines make their way to the famed .395-mile oval to pay tribute to the most decorated modified driver in track history.
For the second year in a row the Larry King Law Modified Division will wrap up their season with a 100-lap feature and a chance at over $2,000 in race winnings. However, one can argue that the plethora of bonus money that comes from this weekend – $2,048 to the winner, pole awards, specific finish order bonuses, and the introduction of the Balluzzo Challenge – everyone will be fighting for the unique trophy to honor the late great Balluzzo.
“It’s bitter sweet moments,” Terri Balluzzo said on planning this years event. “The reason why we are planning an event like this of course is still heartbreaking but watching the Modified community come together and wanting to run this race is what makes it all worth it. This has been a total family effort and we are honored that so many race teams will come to honor Shawn.”
Matt Carter undoubtedly enters the weekend the odds on favorite collecting ten wins throughout the 2021 campaign along with his first track championship. However, he will have to be on his games with drivers like Rick Gdovic and Chris Johnson who have all found Dale Lemonds Victory lane at some point in their career. Brad Adams will have momentum on his side as he will enter the weekend as the most recent division winner and has really come on strong towards the end of the season. T.J Largena is also a noteable name has the Newport News native and son in-law to Balluzzo will enter his machine in the race, this will be Largena’s first trip to Langley Speedway to pay tribute to his father in-law.
The race will be on of the richest races the Modified division has seen to date with more than $15,000 on the line and the winner walking away with no less than $2,048. In addition to the race-winning purse, Asset Towing and Recovery has sponsored the $100 Pole Award to the faster qualifier. Daniel Balluzzo with East Coast Mechanical will be awarding $448 to the leader of the race on lap 48. Kenny Cain from A-Hampton Roads Plumbing will be awarding an additional $100 to those who finish third through twelfth. Gene and Robin Nichols – Balluzzo’s co-owner — from Gene Nichols Carburetors and Boutique A Yo-Yo will be awarding an additional $100 to the fourteenth, sixteenth, eighteenth, twentieth, and twenty-second place finishers.
Finally the Balluzzo family has offered up what has been coined “The Balluzzo Challenge.” A unique offer that truly embodies what Shawn Balluzzo was as a driver. If the two drivers who qualify on the front row think they have what it takes to take their machines to the rear of the field and take the green flag from there, and additional $500 will be awarded should they find victory lane at the end of the night.
“We really want to focus on growing this race,” Promotor and General Manager Vaughan Crittenden said. “We have the Hampton Heat for the Late Model guys and really think this race can grow into something just as big and for all of the right reasons. What better way to honor the legacy of Shawn’s life and career here than hosting what could be one of the largest Modified events of the year for this region. It is something that is very special for our Langley family and just proud to be apart of it all.”
Spectator gates will open at normal time this weekend at 2:00 PM EDT along with the start of controlled practice. Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 4:30 with green flag racing for a total of five divisions set for 7:00 PM.
Hampton, VA – Just like any good movie or even better book all good things must come to an end. Wednesday will mark the end of the 2021 Wacky Wednesday season and for the first time Larry King Law Langley Speedway will crown two separate champions along with running the third annual King go the Hill double elimination bracket challenge.
Rick Stott, hailing from Saluda, Virginia, earned his first Time Attack Championship driving his red #8 Honda Civic Hatchback. Stott collected a total of three wins, four runner up finishes, and three, third place finishes for a total of 285 points. Competition was no slouch this year as teammate Tug Arnold finished the 2021 season in second position just two points behind. Brad Johnson, Donovan Jewell, and Kyle Campbell rounded out the top five in points.
“I would like to thank Bill Mullis and the Speedway and all staff for giving their time and giving us an outlet to do what we enjoy,” Stott said. “[My] wife and kids for being supportive while I spent many hours working on the car. Thanks to Tug Arnold, Donovan Jewel, and Bryan Laramie for always being ready to turn a wrench at a moment’s notice and most importantly the fans for showing up every week to to watch us make fast left hand turns.”
For the first time in Wacky history a One-on-One Championship was created to give drivers a new discipline of racing to master as time attack racing is much different than side-by-side racing. Drivers earned points throughout the season for either winning the A or B main feature and bonus points for winning the monthly King of the Hill events.
Newport News native Tug Arnold dominated the inaugural season collecting three King go the Hill wins along with two A-Main feature wins earning and impressive 40-points. Bruce Leithead was the second closest driver earning 15 total points from one King of the Hill monthly win and an A-Main feature win. Brad Johnson (14), Richard Stott (13), and Kevin Magee (13) would round out the top five.
“I just want to thank Bill Mullis and Langley Speedway,” Arnold said after learning he had wrapped up the championship. “All the fans, friends, and family that helped me through diversity of the season with totaling my car and building another quickly and all of the track personnel for spending their time to put on the show for us.”
Competitors and officials will now turn their attention to the richest paying event of the season, the 3rd Annual King of the Hill Bracket Challenge. This will be a One-on-One only event where drivers will compete in a double elimination style bracket to see who is the best of the best on the season. Up for grabs at the end of the night will be bragging rights going into the off season along with $500 in cold hard cash – should 25 or more drivers register to compete, $350 will go to the winner should we have fewer than 25 competitors.
Additionally three drivers have earned a lock in spot to the Top 25 bracket based on accomplishments throughout the season. Tug Arnold and Bruce Leithead have earned their spot into the final twelve based on winning a monthly King of the Hill event throughout the season. Rick Stott will also be locked into the final twelve due to winning the regular season time attack championship. These three drivers will not have to compete until the round of twelve where they will begin their double elimination.
Registration and fan gates will open at 6:00 PM. Registration for all drivers will be $15. General Admission tickets are $7. Drivers meeting will get underway around 7:00 PM with on track action getting underway no later than 7:30 PM.
Ridgeway, VA – The final crown jewel – ValleyStar Credit Union 300 – in Late Model Stock Car racing is finally in the books and Larry King Law Langley Speedway drivers put their blood, sweat and tears into bringing home a couple top twenty finishes in front of a national audience.
Defending champion and current Taylor Waste Services Late Model Stock Car points leader Brenden Queen lead the stable of six drivers to a twelfth place finish this evening at Martinsville Speedway. The young driver hailing from Chesapeake, Virginia was hoping to use a different strategy from the rest of the field along with having the best car he has had in previous appearances but came up just a little bit short at the end of the day.
“With the tire situation we unloaded on some [old] tires but showed some good speed which was pretty surprising,” Queen said about his finish tonight. “However, with those old tires we couldn’t really adjust too much on the car and didn’t know which direction to go for qualifying but wound up eleventh which was our best effort to date which I was happy with. Not to mention we had the best car we have ever brought here. Wasn’t the finish that we wanted, we tried a different strategy than most but just missed a little bit on setup and it didn’t work out for us but we were really happy with the caliber of cars we ran with.”
Queen will head back to Hampton Roads, however, with a victory this weekend and that is loading his potential back-to-back championship car in the hauler in one piece.
“Now that Martinsville is in the books we will turn our full attention back to Langley,” Queen said. “We can focus on finishing the last three races in 2021 out strong and get that second championship!”
Connor Hall, who as split many of the victory lane time with Queen this year, was overall happy with his rookie performance. As with any driver who gets behind the wheel winning is the ultimate goal but the Hampton native came into the weekend with a few small goals and managed to accomplish them all.
“We came here with no notes, no nothing, just wanted to try and make the show and run all 200 laps which we managed to accomplish,” Hall was excited to say following the race. “We were struggling there at the beginning but were able to make adjustments on the car throughout and take tires and drove from thirtieth up to sixteenth. Overall I think we were good car wise but we were missing something in the brake package. We will do some research and maybe try again next year.”
Past Taylor Waste Services Late Model Stock Champion Matt Waltz came out of semi-retirement this season after getting married and buying his first home to run some of the bigger races – CARS Tour and all three VA Triple Crown Events – throughout 2021. With taking a few years away from the sport making the race and loading the car up in once piece at Martinsville is a win in its own right.
“That was about our only win tonight,” Waltz commented about loading the car on the trailer in once piece. “The car was just tight. Tight in the middle and loose off and we got banged around a little bit there in the beginning of the race and got shoved to the back. The car just wasn’t really all that great, we were able to get some speed out of it early on but just wouldn’t last. We got some work to do at the shop over the winter to get the car back to what it was, we might go back to some of our older stuff in the notebook.”
Justin Carroll, who has been running both Late Model Stocks at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway along with select ARCA series events, crashed out of the event on lap 80 but overall was optimistic on the remainder of the 2021 season.
“I was on the outside of Conner and I think the field just stacked up in front of him,” Carroll commented on the wreck. “Natural instinct there he kinda washed up there to avoid it – nothing intentional – and when he did it hooked my left front tires in his right side tires and I caught some air which shot me into the outside wall. The car is not terrible bad, think it can be fixed but its kind of what you get from starting in the back. We learned a lot and will move onto the next one.”
Langley Speedway will be back in action next weekend October 2nd with a full card of racing and the return of the VA Sprint Car series, twin Late Model Stock, Grandstocks, Pro Six, Legends, Bando’s, and Enduro’s. Tickets can be purchased online and will be broadcasted live on NBC Sports Gold TrackPass.
Ridgeway, VA – Martinsville Speedway and the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 has been one of the crown jewel events since 1985. Some of the biggest names in stock car auto racing have competed in this prestigious event over the years and even fewer have been lucky enough to take home a Grandfather clock.
Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway will have six solid opportunities to bring a Grandfather clock home to Hampton Roads as Late Model Stock Car racing makes its return to the famed paperclip. After taking a year off due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic more than eighty Late Model Stock cars have converged on the famous short track. Three of the top five drivers from the Taylor Waste Service Late Model Stock Car division along with a former division champion, a current two-time season winner, and a former Hooters Pro Cup competitor will attempt to qualify for this years event.
For those that are unfamiliar with the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 qualifying time-trials will set the front row for the 200-lap feature that will be run under the lights Saturday evening. The remainder of the field will then be split into four 25-lap heat races based on qualifying speeds. From their the field for the big dance will be set based on your finishing order from the heat races. 40 cars are scheduled to take the green flag and go to war for more than $110,000 in prize money.
Connor Hall, who currently sits fifth in the points standings with three features to go this season, finished ValleyStar Credit Union 300 practice seventeenth on the official practice speed charts. His 20.045-second (89.798 mph) lap was the fastest of the Larry King Law Langley Speedway crew giving the young driver some good feels going into pole qualifying later this evening.
“The car felt a lot better than I have,” Hall said after debriefing practice with his crew. “I am just really nervous admittedly. This is the biggest show in Late Model Stock Car racing right now and this is my first swing at it. It is not that I am nervous in our capabilities but I respect the competition.”
Even though this might be the biggest Late Model Stock Car event Connor has entered the young driver from Hampton, Virginia is certainly used to high pressure and high speed situations as well as working on his race car to make it work for him as he has found Dale Lemonds victory lane three times this year.
“I kind of shot myself in the foot and we could have waited for the sun to go down a little bit more,” Hall offered. “I think we can make the car a little bit better but overall I think we have a really good piece. Our goal all week as been to come here and just make the show and run all 200 hundred laps. If we can do that I will go home with a smile on my face and I think everyone else will do the same.”
Current points leader Brenden Queen wrapped up open practice with a 20.084-second (89.624 mph) lap which put him twenty-fourth on the speed charts and second within the Langley family. Queen, who can now be considered a veteran of the race, was happy with the car right off the trailer and staying within the top ten on the speed charts for most of the practice.
“We got kind of held up there when we bolted on different tires to try a qualifying run,” Queen said after practice. “We just kept catching cars every lap at the wrong time but this is by far the best car that I have had here so we feel really good going into tonight and the race tomorrow.”
Matt Waltz, who has essentially come out of semi-retirement this season, had a solid practice run this afternoon and felt good with the balance of the car with the tires that were on hand. Woody Howard spent most of the afternoon hovering around the top half of the speed charts until late in practice when the team experienced issues in the rear end. Justin Carroll, who is recently off a successful finish at Bristol in the ARCA series and a win at Langley chased motor issues all day but feels good with the balance of the car. Mark Wertz, who has also been to victory lane this year, broke a flywheel early in practice forcing his team to miss a good portion of practice.
Team will now turn their attention to single car qualifying as the sun has set over the speedway and the LED lights have been turned on.
Some of the best Late Model Stock Car drivers in the country are getting ready to converge on the Hampton Roads area with one simple goal in mind – winning the 13th annual Hampton Heat. Plenty of drivers are looking to etch their way into the Larry King Law Langley Speedway record books by picking up their first Hampton Heat win.
Defending track champion and Chesapeake’s very own Brenden Queen is one of a few drivers looking to notch his name once again in the record books by becoming only the second repeat winner in races history and only the second driver to do so back-to-back. Some things are certainly much easier said than done, however, Queen looks to put the mediocre finish at South Boston earlier this month behind him and continue to ride the wave of momentum at his home track.
“We are trying to keep a positive attitude and look forward to being back on our home turf,” Queen commented. “With the tire shortage at least we are back to a track that we run every week and know what we need in the car.”
Queen came home with just a nineteenth place finish at the .400-mile banked oval of South Boston Speedway to open the 2021 Virginia Triple Crown series but returns to a race track where he has logged countless laps throughout his racing career and is currently scored as the championship points leader with a total of three wins, eight top fives, nine top tens in nine races. Queen has also been the most consistent driver of the year holding onto an average finish of 2.2. His worst finish to date is sixth.
“Hydration is big,” one of the keys to winning America’s Hottest Race according to Queen. “We just have to be smart and keep our head in the game all night long. We need to survive by keeping the fenders on it and manage the tires all night to have a shot like last year. At one point last year we were running nineteenth so I feel like I learned a lot of how to pace myself for the whole 200 laps.”
Winning any race on any given Saturday night is a task in its own right these days as the talent in the Late Models continues to rise. Don’t think for one second the check already has his name written on it and the trophy stamped with his name. He will have to fend off some stout competition a week from now and he knows it.
“How can you not think about Kaden Honeycutt with the Justin Johnson team.” Queen said when asked about his competition “He’s been fast everywhere and came to Langley and dominated the CARS [Tour] race. Also, the Edward brothers are due [for one of these] and [honestly] can win on any given night.”
Tickets for America’s Hottest race can be purchased online at www.Langley-Speedway.com or at the ticket office the day of the event. For a full schedule of events or more information on the event head over to the website and click on Hampton Heat under the events tab and follow our various social media accounts. Gates are set to open at 11:00 am for Late Model teams only. Support divisions along with spectator gates will open at noon. Late Models will have a two-hour open practice with single car qualifying scheduled at 4:30. Racing is set to begin this year at 6:00 PM.