HAMPTON, Va. — Matt Waltz recovered from an opening-lap bobble and rolled to his 10th win of the season in the Reinhart Foodservice 150 for the ComServe/Verizon Wireless Late Model Stock Cars, the marquee event of Saturday evening’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program at Langley Speedway.
Division leader Greg Edwards claimed the pole position in afternoon qualifying, clocking in at 88.758 mph. Waltz was second-quickest, only 4-thousandths of a second off Edwards’ standard. Brenden “Butterbean” Queen, Terry Carroll and Danny Edwards Jr. completed the top five on the 15-car grid. Fourteen drivers made timed runs and were separated by less than half a second.
As the race got under way, Edwards and Waltz dueled until they reached the end of the backstretch. In Turn 3, Edwards surged out front, while Waltz skittered up the track and dropped all the way back to seventh. Queen emerged in second place, followed by Edwards Jr., Nick Smith and Carroll.
The first caution flag waved on lap 4 for Robert Bruce’s spin in Turn 2. Lining up for a restart, Smith opted for the outside lane, joined by sixth-place Duane Shreeves, seventh-place Waltz, eighth-place Michael Hardin and 12th-place Casey Wyatt.
Back under green, to begin lap 8, Edwards cleared Smith in Turn 2, leaving the inside lane open for Queen, who pulled alongside Smith. Smith was ahead of Queen by a nose as they returned to the flagstand, but Queen rallied and regained the runner-up spot on lap 9.
Waltz came away from the restart in sixth place and clambered back into the top five on lap 17, slipping past Carroll in Turns 1 and 2. Meanwhile, at the front, Edwards was beginning to ease away from Queen.
Working lap 37, Edwards enjoyed a six-length advantage over Queen, who had his hands full with a challenge from Smith. Edwards Jr. had a front-row seat for the second-place tussle, riding two lengths back. Another five lengths separated Edwards Jr. and Waltz.
On lap 39, Smith launched a bid for second, driving underneath Queen at the end of the backstretch. He grabbed the position off Turn 4 and left an opening for Edwards Jr., who looked to take over third. After a side-by-side scuffle, Edwards Jr. pulled ahead of Queen on lap 42. Waltz tagged along and moved into fourth on lap 43.
Zeroing in on third-place Edwards Jr., Waltz poked a fender alongside in Turn 4 on lap 52. Edwards Jr. pulled ahead, though, when they reached the backstretch. That same scene was repeated on laps 54 and 57.
The third-place battle finally overheated on lap 60 as Edwards Jr. and Waltz tangled off Turn 4 and Edwards Jr. spun, stopping just short of the inside wall, as the second caution flag flew.
Bunching for the restart, Greg Edwards picked the outside lane, ceding the inside to Smith. Waltz, who was allowed to keep the third spot, joined Edwards up top, along with Mark Wertz and Hardin.
As the race resumed, to begin lap 65, Edwards cleared Smith in Turn 1. Waltz came along with Edwards and took over second. Not satisfied with the runner-up position, though, he drove to the outside of Edwards on the backstretch on lap 66 and powered into the lead on the following circuit.
With Waltz running about a lane up from the bottom of the track, Edwards made several runs to the leader’s inside, notably in Turns 1 and 2. He couldn’t find the bite off the corner to finish off the pass, however, as Waltz pulled ahead on the straightaway.
Nearing lap 100, Waltz finally gained the clear-cut edge on Edwards and began to widen the lead. After a couple of jaunts through slower traffic, Waltz was up by better than half a straightaway, while Smith grew larger in Edwards’ mirror.
At the checkers, Waltz was the winner by 3.019 seconds — almost a full straightaway — over Edwards. Smith was third, while Queen and Wertz completed the top five. Hardin was sixth, the final driver on the lead lap. Wyatt, Justin Carroll, Shreeves and Connor Hall rounded out the top 10, all one lap in arrears. Terry Carroll was 11th, while Edwards Jr. ended up 12th.
In Victory Lane after the race, Waltz recapped his run: “The car was pretty tight there the last little bit and I could just stay up there, like it’s been the last couple of weeks, and stay wound up on the outside and be able to pull up ahead of ‘em. The last two weeks, that’s some of the hardest driving and one of the longest green-flag runs we’ve ever had here in a while, if I’m not mistaken.”
Now in double-digits in the “W” column, Waltz is looking to finish off the season in style: “Last year was the first year I won a race, and won three of ‘em then, and come out this year and win 10 so far and still have quite a few to go. We’re just gonna keep digging and keep on trying to win races.”
The Late Models will be back in action next Saturday, Aug. 23, with a pair of 64-lap features.
In the evening’s other feature events:
Brandon Hinson started on the pole, at 79.362 mph, and wired the field to nab his second win of the year in a 40-lapper for the Pepsi Grand Stocks.
Hinson leaped into the lead as the initial green flag dropped, leaving his front-row colleague, Mark Frye, to battle Tommy Sweeney for second. Sweeney won that faceoff, relegating Frye to third, followed by Rodney Boyd and Andrew Condrey.
Sweeney closed quickly on Hinson and was nose-to-tail with the leader when the first caution appeared on lap 10 for Thomas Marks’ spin in Turn 4. For the restart, Condrey, Jamie Sample and Shawn Scovel chose the outside lane.
Preparing to return to green, Hinson was a bit too eager, nearly collecting the pace truck in Turn 4, and the yellow flag came back out.
Under green again, Hinson bolted ahead of Condrey as they reached the start/finish line. Sweeney filled the opening underneath Condrey and they went door-to-door for nearly a full lap before Sweeney secured the spot. The brief tussle allowed Hinson to build a three-length advantage.
Deeper in the field, Frye and Boyd contested the third position with Boyd grabbing the spot on lap 16. In the meantime, Hinson and Sweeney had driven off by half a straightaway.
Passing the halfway mark, Hinson had extended his lead to four lengths over Sweeney, while Boyd closed in from behind. By lap 29, Boyd had erased the gap and was on the hunt for second.
Boyd took over the runner-up position on lap 31. Ahead of him, Hinson padded his lead to half a straightaway as the laps began to wind down.
On lap 35, fifth-place Condrey dropped off the pace and began to slide down the running order as Sample and Carl Livingston moved up to fifth and sixth, respectively.
At the finish, Hinson was the winner by nearly half a straightaway — 1.751 seconds, to be precise — over Boyd. Sweeney was third, followed by Frye and Sample, who nipped Livingston for fifth.
In a 30-lapper for the KeesVacations.com Pro Sixes, Steve Williams assumed the lead on lap 20 and showed the way to his first victory of the season.
Nelson Moody started on the pole, at 83.022 mph, and paced the first 14 circuits. In his mirror, Bobby Hall won an early duel with Landon Florian to take over second place. In short order, both Hall and Florian were breathing down Moody’s neck.
On lap 12, Hall ducked underneath Moody in Turn 2 and the battle for the lead was on. Moody eked out a narrow edge on laps 12-14, but gave way on lap 15 as Hall eased ahead.
Hall’s stay atop the leaderboard was a short one, though, as Florian roared into the lead on lap 16. A lap later, Cody Carlton snagged the third spot from Moody
The first caution flag was displayed on lap 19 when Moody spun off Turn 4. Just before Moody’s spin, Carlton was forced to chase his car up the track in Turn 4. The two continued to slug it out during the caution period and officials directed both drivers to the pits for the duration, bringing their runs to an abrupt halt.
Back under green, Florian cleared Travis Wall, who restarted to his outside, as they headed into Turn 1. Hall bypassed Wall on the backstretch, while nosed into third at the flagstand.
Beginning lap 20, Hall and Florian tangled in Turn 2 and Florian spun, prompting the last of the race’s two yellow flags. Both drivers earned a trip to the rear of the field as Williams moved to the head of the procession.
As the race resumed, Williams cleared Jordan Wood, who was on his outside flank. Wall, now in second, looked low at the entrance to Turn 1, but was rebuffed. Meanwhile, Florian and Hall were charging back toward the front.
Over the closing circuits, Williams sailed away from the field, stretching his winning margin to 1.759 seconds — half a straightaway — over Wall. Florian rallied for a third-place result, followed by J.B. Sipe and Hall.
Tommy Jackson Jr. took the lead on lap 16 and scored his third victory of the year in the 25-lap Cycle City Corp. INEX Legends race.
Brian May started on the pole, at 79.291 mph, and moved out front on lap 1. Meanwhile, Jackson and Chris Hildebrand battled for second in the early going with Jackson snagging the spot on lap 4. The tussle allowed May to fashion an eight-length lead. By the midway point, though, Jackson had erased the gap.
On lap 16, Jackson went after the lead, driving underneath May into Turn 1. He completed the pass on the backstretch and pulled away, while Spencer Saunders and Hildebrand moved up to challenge May for second. The running order was unchanged until lap 23 when Brandon Gdovic slipped by Hildebrand for fourth.
At the checkers, Jackson won by 0.517-second — about five car-lengths — over May. Saunders and Gdovic were third and fourth, while Hildebrand came home in fifth.
Earlier in the day, Gdovic had started and finished 15th in a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East road race at Virginia International Raceway, near Danville. He and Saunders, a member of his K&N team, rushed back to Langley and were late add-ons to the Legends lineup.
Devon Courtney posted his third win of the season in a caution-free 15-lapper for the East Coast Synthetics INEX Bandoleros. He started on the pole, at 65.791 mph, and led all the way.
Clinging to a slim one-car-length margin, Courtney gained some breathing room at the halfway mark when a four-way scuffle for second erupted behind him. D.J. Elzey held onto the runner-up spot, but couldn’t make up the lost ground in the closing circuits.
At the finish, Courtney was the winner by 0.261-second — little more than a car-length — over Elzey. Bradley Kilby was third, while Elysia Potter and Zach Lightfoot completed the top five.
In the evening’s opening event, Matthew Leach led 19 of 20 laps to bag his first win in the Rhonnda Claiborne, Realtor HRKC Pro Winged Champ Kart feature.
Starting on the pole, at 61.783 mph, Leach led the inside line on a breakaway at the beginning of the race. He was joined up front by Charlie-Ray Lorah, Angela-Marie Steele and Harry Leach, the third-, fifth- and seventh-place starters.
Soon, Matthew Leach and Lorah had opened a small gap over Steele and Harry Leach. By lap 7, though, the lead pack had tightened back up and Lorah teamed with Steele to take the lead. On the next lap, the Leach brothers struck back, linking up to reclaim the top two spots.
At the crossed flags, Matthew Leach, Harry Leach and Lorah were nose-to-tail, while Steele had lost contact with the lead trio and was about to be swallowed up by the second drafting pack.
The only caution flag came out on lap 16 for Victoria Townsend’s spin in Turn 2.
Under green for a sprint to the finish, the Leach brothers and Lorah resumed their dominance at the head of the field. Meanwhile, in their wake, the scramble was on for fourth.
With the white flag in the air, Matthew Leach opened a two-length lead on the backstretch. Harry Leach and Lorah gobbled up that ground in Turns 3 and 4, however, and took one last run at the leader as they came to the stripe.
At the checkers, Matthew Leach held on to win by 66-thousandths of a second — not quite a full kart-length — over Harry Leach. Lorah was third, while Amanda Frye and Ryan Hudgins emerged from a jumble in fourth and fifth.