HAMPTON, Va. – Story and photo by Race Chaser Online Southeast Correspondent Charlie Alexander —
Langley Speedway will be the place to be this Saturday night for fans of Late Model Stock Racing, as nearly 40 cars will look for the green flag in the Hampton Heat 200.
The Southeast’s best late model stock car drivers from various states and of various ages, genders and levels of experience will gather Saturday in hopes to win the $10,000 winner’s purse after 200 laps of good old short track racing.
As of Wednesday night, 31 drivers are entered, with 11 other drivers in the “possible” category.
Although he is not running full time at Langley after his track championship back in 2013, C.E. Falk III is a favorite to win Saturday’s race. Falk is a four time track champion at Langley and a three time Hampton Heat winner. He is one of five winners in the race’s seven year history, and has led the most laps along the way.
However, despite his impressive résumé, Falk is still uncertain about how the race will unfold on Saturday.
In order to improve the racing surface, Langley was repaved last week in both corners, essentially making the track only have one groove.
“It is what it is,” Falk said simply of the repave. “I just hope it doesn’t tear the race apart. It’s certainly going to make this deal interesting for us.”
Falk is sponsored by EF Motorsports, Racing Electronics, Wilwood Brakes, Clark’s Automotive, WP Racing Shocks, and MPI.
Winner of the last three late model races at Langley, five time track champion Danny Edwards Jr. arguably has the most momentum going into Saturday’s race.
“Winning the last three definitely helps [my] confidence mainly because the car and team are working well,” Edwards said about his recent success. “As far as [the] pavement, no one really knows but [it] seems like the outside groove will not be desirable, but most of the drivers [here] are fairly experienced and we will figure it out.”
Edwards is sponsored by Danny’s Glass, Smith Marine Electronics, Fair Distributing, Schaeffer’s racing oil, Bojangles’, Bracers Mechanical, racerap.com, Tamco Paints, Creech Motorsports, and Keen’s Racing Engines.
After winning his fourth Langley championship last year, Danny’s brother, Greg, is ready to win car owner James Long his third Hampton Heat. Long’s No. 21 won the first two Hampton Heats in 2008 and 2009 with drivers Nick Smith and Woody Howard.
As far as the new asphalt, Edwards is undecided, saying that “it could make for better racing,” but he’s “just not sure.” Edwards won five races earlier this season, but was wrecked early on June 13, forcing him to his backup car since.
“I’m just glad to be back in the car that won five races,” Edwards commented about his primary car, which he calls ‘LaFawnduh.’ “We went out Monday night and it was still fast. I’m thankful for that.”
Edwards is sponsored by 97.3 The Eagle, Danny’s Glass, Charlie High Racing Engines, and Mark’s Graphics.
After this race ruined his chances at the track championship last year, Matt Waltz goes into Saturday’s race with his head up. Waltz had the fastest car last year, when confusion by the officials put him in the back following the halfway break. Following the penalty, Waltz would end up crashing and finishing 26th.
This year, Waltz is not racing for the championship, as he has made a few starts on the CARS Tour. Despite not competing in all races, the Newport News driver has won a race already at Langley this season.
“[I] am going back to my normal setup for the Hampton Heat since what I have hasn’t been working,” Waltz commented about the setups he has been experimenting with. “[I] am looking forward to running better.”
Waltz is sponsored by Waltz Engineered Sales, The Virginia Peninsula Foodbank, and Davcon Inc.
Two-time Langley champion Mark Wertz also has a victory this year, and looks forward to being competitive on Saturday.
“I feel like we have a pretty good hotrod heading into the [Hampton] Heat,” Wertz commented. “There will be a ton of talent, but I think we will blend in well.”
Wertz is sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts, Taylor Waste Services, BayPort Credit Union, Two & a Half Men Moving & Storage, and Oldskool Videogames and More.
Cordova, Maryland’s Tyler Hughes also has a victory this year, and can’t stop thinking about Saturday’s race.
“It has been on my mind all week,” Hughes admitted. “I am very confident right now with not only myself but my whole race team behind me,” Hughes added. “I am fully focused on this race and I know I just have to keep my nose clean and be conservative to be there at the end.”
Hughes is sponsored by G2 Inc. and Simpson Racing Products.
After a career best finish (second) two weeks ago, 2013 rookie of the year Brenden Queen is more prepared than ever for what may be the biggest race of his career thus far.
“I think we have hit on something. We are real close I believe,” Queen commented on his team. “[We] are going to have to make sure we have tires left to race at the end, especially against the Ford crates.”
Queen is sponsored by Adkins Motorsports, Bryant Motorsports, and Clark’s Racing Engines.
After two top-5 finishes two weeks ago, 2014 rookie of the year Connor Hall is cool, calm, and collected for Langley’s biggest race of the year, saying that he plans to be a big contender for the win.
Hall is sponsored by Towne Bank, Western Branch Diesel, and Charles Barker Automotive.
Driving for Rev Racing, Wisconsin driver Natalie Decker hopes to upset the field of men in the field. Joining Macy Causey as the only two females entered in the race, Decker has a wave of confidence following a few victories in her home state during the past month.
“Winning helps my confidence not just for this weekend but also for going back to those same tracks,” Decker commented on her recent success. “And, as far as the Hampton Heat, I think it’s going to be a good weekend!”
Decker is sponsored by the NASCAR Drive for Diversity, Max Siegel, Inc. and Rev Racing.
Leading the CARS Tour Late Model Stock points with three victories this season, Brayton Haws enters this weekend prepared but unsure of how the race will play out.
In regards to his three CARS Tour victories: “It’s a big confidence booster, but this is a different race and anything can happen here at Langley. For this weekend, I’m not really sure how much [the new pavement] will change the racing but I am so anxious to find out. I want to add this trophy to my resume. Winning on the CARS Tour is big, but this would be big for me as well.”
More than halfway into its inaugural season, Haws leads Myatt Snider by only one point on the CARS Tour, with Deac McCaskill fourteen markers back. Both Snider and McCaskill are on the “possible” list for this weekend’s Hampton Heat.
Haws is sponsored by Mechanical HVAC Services and Rheem.
Although the Heat is not a track points race this year, it is bringing large names to the table — being a Whelen All-American Series national points race.
Notable entries include Lee Pulliam, the 2012 and 2013 national champion; Nick Smith, the inaugural winner of the race; Todd Gilliland, son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star David Gilliland; and Tyler Ankrum.
Racing begins Saturday at 7:00 with an on-track meet and greet at 6:15.
About the Author:
Charlie Alexander is the founder of King Charles Photography and uses his photos to showcase his passion for motorsports in the Southeast. Alexander, 18, is a senior at Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach, Va., as well as a contributing photographer for Langley Speedway and Race Chaser Online’s Southeast regional contributor — having joined the site in June of 2015.
Email Charlie at: firstname.lastname@example.org