When Langley Speedway (VA) officials announced their plans to reopen the track’s gates in April, it meant that not only would the track be open, but the annual Hampton Heat 200 would return after a hiatus in 2016. The return of the prestigious Late Model Stock Car race is much to the joy of fans and drivers.
For eight years prior to the 2016 closure of Langley, the Hampton Heat had been a staple for Late Model Stock Car teams and fans and the cornerstone event for the historic Southeastern Virginia short track. Drivers such as Lee Pulliam, CE Falk and Peyton Sellers are amongst the list of former winners.
The return of the Hampton Heat also brings the return of the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown, consisting of the Thunder Road Harley Davidson 200 at South Boston (VA), the Hampton Heat at Langley and the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville (VA) on September 23.
On Saturday, Philip Morris will look to win his first Hampton Heat and take the first two wins of the Triple Crown into Martinsville. If he does so, he will have the chance to become the first driver in the four-year history of the Triple Crown to win all three races in the same season.
Previously, in 2014, Lee Pulliam won the South Boston and Martinsville legs of the event, but failed to win the Hampton Heat. In 2015, Pulliam returned to win the South Boston and Langley legs of the event, but did not win at Martinsville.
This time around, Pulliam is not expected to be at Langley, as he will be running Myrtle Beach, but a host of drivers including Sellers, Falk, Morris, Justin S Carroll, Cody Carlton and Mark Wertz amongst others will be in action as the Hampton Heat returns.
For Carroll, he is hoping for a turnaround on a less than stellar season heading into the heat.
“It’s pretty exciting. I’m really looking forward to this race. The triple crown is pretty cool especially since I plan to race the three races that are included in the triple crown but I’ve been struggling at Langley all year so hopefully it will be a good race,” Carroll told Speed51.com powered by JEGS “We have someone else working on my car for this race so we will see what happens.”
Cody Carlton, the 2014-2015 Arena Racing League champion, is getting ready for his first Hampton Heat after running in Langley’s Pro-Six division. Carlton will be sporting the number 94 come Saturday and is excited for his debut in the race.
“I think it’s great for the sport and will be very entertaining for the fans,” Carlton stated. “I’m just glad my home track is the one hosting it.”
Mark Wertz has two career top-five finishes in the Hampton Heat, a race he has started seven times. Wertz sees why so many drivers will be coming from out-of-town to try and capture the win.
“It’s become one of the big Late Model races now,” the two-time Langley track champion said. “It’s a good bunch of cars on a hard track to navigate. It really showcases the talent in some of the series biggest names.”
The ninth installment of the Hampton Heat is set to take the green flag on Saturday at 7:00 P.M at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway, located next to Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia.
Speed51 will have Trackside Now coverage of the event beginning at 3:00 P.M that day.
-By Reese Nobles, Speed51.com Mid-Atlantic Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com