Since the beginning of the season, Director of Competition Jefferson Hodges has had this weekend’s K&N Pro Series East race circled on his calendar. For Hodges, the Visit Hampton VA 175 (which takes place at Langley Speedway) is more than just another race on the schedule; it is a homecoming. Langley used to be owned by Hodges’ family, and it remains a track he knows too well.
“It was a place that we were always proud of and always had great support from the teams and community. It is a showplace for short-track stock car racing and really makes me happy to have all the memories of growing up there and see all the improvements Bill [Mullis] and his staff have made to the place I grew up knowing as ‘Langley Field’. I think everyone in the K&N Series enjoys going there and that makes me feel really good.”
From a historical standpoint, Hodges’ knowledge of the track has proven advantageous for his drivers. In 2013, three of the four Rev Racing cars finished in the top-11, with the outlier suffering from electrical issues.
“Langley is a tricky place. It is shaped like an oval, but not at all raced that way,” Hodges said. “There are certain parts of the track where it is important to be very good, and others where it does not matter nearly as much. In my opinion, to be able to share that [insight] with my team is an advantage.”
For the upcoming race, the spotlight will be on NKNPSE newcomer Jay Beasley along with veteran Sergio Peña.
Jay Beasley (No. 42 Toyota Racing Development Toyota) – Beasley is currently on a hot streak. After another impressive performance at Five Flags Speedway, he will make his debut at Langley Speedway behind the momentum of three consecutive top-10’s. Conjunctionally, each of Beasley’s aforementioned top-10 performances have been during track debuts, proving that the Las Vegas native has developed the ability to quickly adapt to unfamiliar circumstances. Beasley’s last few outings have moved him up in the point standings, where he currently sits at 13th.
Sergio Peña (No. 4 L&M Enthanol Toyota) – Peña reigns supreme at Langley Speedway. Of the active drivers in the NKNPSE, the NASCAR Next alumnus has the most wins, top-5’s, and laps led. Coming off of a top-10 performance at Five Flags Speedway, Peña is looking forward to continuing his dominance at Langley Speedway.
Daniel Suarez (No. 6 Toyota Racing Development Toyota) – Last season, Suarez’ performance at Langley Speedway fell just short of taking the checkered flag in first. However, his valiant second place finish resulted in his first top-5 of the season. After mechanical issues prevented him from finishing last week’s race at Five Flags Speedway, Suarez won’t have to wait much longer to redeem himself and move back into the top-5 of the point standings. Suarez is currently 6th in the point standings.
Ryan Gifford (No. 2 UTI/NASCAR Technical Institute Toyota) – Gifford is another Rev Racing driver who has historically performed well at Langley Speedway. In last year’s campaign, Gifford was able to secure a top-5 finish after a solid top-10 qualifying effort. After a less than favorable finish last weekend, Gifford is adamant about returning to the same form that recently secured him a top-10 finish at Bowman Gray Stadium. Gifford is currently 17th in the point standings.
Mackena Bell (No. 21 Special Smiles Pediatric Dentistry Toyota) – In her last campaign at Langley Speedway, Bell put forth an admirable effort, but finished one spot shy of the top-10. After showing signs of improvement over her past few races, Bell is looking use the knowledge of Hodges and her crew chief to earn her second top-10 of the season. Bell is currently 15th in the point standings.
Two-lap qualifying for the Visit Hampton 175 will be Saturday, June 21 at 4:00 p.m., followed by an autograph session at 5:45 p.m. The race begins at 8:00 p.m.