HAMPTON, Va. (July 12) — After sharing the winner’s circle in the season’s first four doubleheaders, Matt Waltz had Victory Lane all to himself on Saturday night as he swept the Thomas Roofing Twin 75s for the ComServe/Verizon Wireless Late Model Stock Cars, the featured events of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program at Langley Speedway. The wins were his seventh and eighth of the year.
The lineup for the first of the Twins was determined in afternoon time trials and Waltz bagged the pole position, at 89.266 mph. Division points leader Greg Edwards was second-fastest, just 64-thousandths of a second off Waltz’s mark. Matt Bowling, in town to prep for the upcoming Hampton Heat 200, was third on the 20-car grid, followed by Nick Smith and Langley newcomer Garrett Campbell.
As the opener got under way, Edwards remained even with Waltz through Turns 1 and 2, then surged ahead on the back straightaway. He gained the clear-cut edge off Turn 4 and led the field back to the flagstand, while Waltz settled into second. Behind them, Bowling and Smith jousted for third.
On lap 3, Bowling pulled ahead of Smith to take over third. Trapped on the outside, Smith gave way to Brenden “Butterbean” Queen, then Campbell and Peyton Sellers over the next couple of circuits. His frustrations came to a head on lap 7 when he skated wide in Turns 3 and 4, flirting with the outside wall, and dropped all the way to 11th.
The first caution flag waved on lap 8 when Jeremy Grogg spun in Turn 2. Lining up for the ensuing restart, Waltz headed to the outside lane, joined up top by Queen, Sellers, Mark Wertz, Tyler Ankrum, Michael Hardin and Terry Carroll. Smith, meanwhile, pulled into the pits.
Back under green, Edwards powered ahead of Waltz at the start/finish line. Waltz slipped back into second, while Bowling and Queen dueled for third with Bowling grabbing the spot on lap 9.
By lap 16, Edwards had fashioned a three-length margin over Waltz, who enjoyed a similar lead over third-place Bowling. Campbell snagged fourth from Queen and trailed the leaders by nearly half a straightaway. Deeper in the pack, Queen and Connor Hall tussled for fifth and the rest of the field began to stack up behind them.
Having added another car-length to his advantage, Edwards encountered his first real dose of slower traffic on lap 32. As the leader sorted through the lapped cars, Waltz began to narrow the gap. By the time they emerged, on lap 43, Waltz had trimmed the deficit to a single car-length.
Looking to the inside, Waltz made runs at Edwards on laps 45, 47 and 53, but couldn’t find the bite to make the bids pay off. Behind the lead duo, Campbell slipped past Bowling for third on lap 46.
Denied in the bottom groove, Waltz switched tactics on lap 58 and drove to the outside of Edwards in Turns 3 and 4 on lap 58. He drew alongside on the frontstretch and rocketed into the lead at the entrance to Turn 3 on lap 59, using a slower car to pick off Edwards.
The second, and final, caution flag flew on lap 62 when Sellers looped his machine in Turns 1 and 2.
As the field bunched for a restart, Waltz opted for the outside lane — a big gamble on the flat, .395-mile oval. Campbell, Queen, Danny Edwards Jr. and Duane Shreeves lined up behind Waltz on the high side.
As the race resumed, Waltz’s decision looked a bit “iffy” for about half a lap. At the end of the backstretch, though, he cleared Edwards and set sail. Within a couple of laps, he had opened a three-length lead.
At the finish, Waltz was the winner by 0.712-second — about four lengths — over Edwards. Campbell was third, coming out on top of a late-race tussle with Bowling, who came home in fourth, while Queen rounded out the top five.
Hall headed up the second five, in sixth, followed by Danny Edwards Jr., Casey Wyatt, Ankrum and Sellers. Wertz, Shreeves and Quin Houff were 11th, 12th and 13th, respectively, the final drivers to complete the entire distance.
Pulling into Victory Lane after the race, Waltz commented on his affinity for the outside groove: “Seems like the outside really is the place to be when it gets later in these races. You can get the bite off the corner and pull ahead of ‘em. I was just lucky enough he gave me a little bit of room and I dove it down into 3 that first time, when I was able to take the lead from him. It just worked out.”
Looking ahead to the second race, Waltz was optimistic about his chances: “The car was driving really great there toward the end. We kinda laid back those last couple laps, just trying to make sure we saved as much tire as we could for the second one.”
The starting lineup for the nightcap mirrored the finishing order of the opener, putting Waltz and Edwards back on the front row, followed by Campbell, Bowling and Queen.
As the field prepared for the start of the second race, Waltz remained committed to the high line, opting to launch from the outside of Row 1. For Waltz, the decision turned out to be a wise one as he motored out front off Turn 2 to take the lead on lap 1. Edwards dropped into second, followed by Bowling, Campbell and Queen.
While Waltz and Edwards duked it out at the head of the field, Bowling was struggling a bit. After advancing one position on the start, he lost spots on the next three laps, sliding back to sixth and allowing Hall to move onto the leaderboard, in fifth.
At the front, Waltz was running a groove up from the bottom of the track, presenting a tantalizing opening for Edwards. Lap after lap, Edwards poked a fender underneath the leader in the corners, only to see Waltz regain command on the straightaways.
Waltz’s first foray into slower traffic began on lap 23 and he freed himself two laps later, up by two lengths. As Waltz began to ease away, Edwards started to slip into the clutches of Campbell, who was turning heads in his Langley debut.
Passing the halfway mark, Waltz’s advantage had grown to five lengths. Deeper in the pack, Bowling regained the fifth spot from Hall on lap 40 and left the door open for Wyatt, who moved up to sixth on lap 41.
On lap 42, Campbell moved up to challenge Edwards for the second spot. He inched ahead on lap 43, but Edwards rallied on lap 44 to retake the position. The brief tussle allowed Waltz to pad his lead to half a straightaway. Bowling continued his charge back toward the front on lap 48, picking off Queen for fourth.
Waltz waded into a heavy array of slower cars on lap 61. Edwards was able to shave a couple car-lengths from Waltz’s advantage. His rally hit a roadblock on lap 66, however, as a couple of the lapped machines went two-wide in his path. While Edwards struggled, Waltz poured it on and cruised to the checkers.
At the end of the caution-free run, Waltz was the winner by a whopping 3.811 seconds — a full straightaway — over Edwards. Campbell was third, followed by Bowling. Ankrum, a USAC Quarter-Midget champ from California, was fifth to the line.
Queen was sixth, while Wyatt and Sellers were seventh and eighth, in that order, rounding out the lead-lap finishers. Hall was credited with ninth and Danny Edwards Jr. completed the top 10.
Returning to Victory Lane, Waltz expressed equal parts excitement and relief at finishing off the twinbill sweep: “I’m glad we finally won both of ‘em. We won the first one last time and ended up blowing up on the victory lap. After we won the first one, I was hoping we’d hold out. I’m glad we could get our second one here.”
Quizzed about his decision to start from the outside lane, Waltz continued: “It seems like, when you can get up there and get it figured out, you can really get a good bite off the corner and make it work. I’m just thrilled we were able to do that and come off with two wins in one night.”
With his seventh and eighth wins in the bag, Waltz turned his attention to the season’s marquee Late Model event — the July 26 Hampton Heat 200: “It’s good to have a lot of momentum going into that thing. We’re gonna put a lot of hard work in these next two weeks and try to make a good effort and win that thing. We’ve been having a lot of really good runs on these big races and just catching bad breaks and stuff like that, but, hopefully, we can get everything straight and come out here and have a good run that weekend and, hopefully, win the Hampton Heat.”
In the evening’s other feature events:
Sammy Gaita led all 40 laps and notched his second and third wins of the season in Twin 20s for the Butterfoss & Barton Orthodontics Super Streets.
Gaita started the first race from the pole, at 75.735 mph, and inched ahead of his front-row cohort, Landon Abbott, on the opening circuit. He cleared Abbott in Turn 3 on lap 2 and began to pull away. By lap 7, Gaita’s lead had grown to five lengths.
Gaita’s healthy margin was erased on lap 13 when the only caution flag flew for Jason Michaud’s spin on the backstretch. Gathering for the restart, fifth-place Renno Marchetti IV headed for the outside lane, joined by Sean Calway, Bill Eaker and Marty Tice.
Back under way, Gaita disposed of Marchetti off Turn 2 and left the inside lane open for Abbott, who drove underneath Marchetti’s #01 machine. With John Pereira moving up to join the fray, Marchetti and Abbott dueled until lap 19 when Marchetti finally gained the upper hand.
The protracted Marchetti/Abbott/Pereira skirmish allowed Gaita to cruise away from the pack. By the end, his winning margin had swelled to 2.439 seconds — better than half a straightaway. Marchetti was second, followed by Pereira, Abbott and Calway.
As the checkers fell, Michaud suffered his second spin of the race, collecting Marty Tice in Turn 4.
By virtue of his win in the first race, Gaita started the second event from the pole and he cleared Marchetti in Turn 4 on the opening lap to take the lead. Marchetti skittered loose off the corner, allowing Pereira to take over second.
The first caution flag appeared on lap 6 for Derek Roberts’ spin in Turn 4. Roberts also had a hand in the second yellow flag, 10 laps later, when his engine erupted along the frontstretch.
In the interim, Gaita held a firm grip on the top spot, motoring away to a three-length lead over Pereira.
Following Roberts’ terminal misfortune on lap 16, the field prepared for another restart with Gaita leading the way. Pereira, Marchetti, Abbott and Michaud rounded out the top five. Abbott was one of three drivers to choose the outside lane.
Back under green, Gaita cleared Abbott in Turn 3 and left the door open for Pereira. Marchetti and Michaud also slipped past Abbott, who was struggling to find a place in line.
The last of the race’s three yellow flags was unfurled on lap 19 when Michaud went after Marchetti for third place in Turn 2. Michaud’s car broke loose and he began to spin. As Michaud tried to correct, his machine snapped to the right and walloped the outside wall, briefly bursting into flames. Safety personnel arrived on the scene and quickly doused the fire and assisted Michaud from the car. The red flag was displayed and the field came to a halt as cleanup activities commenced.
On the final restart, Gaita pulled ahead of Eaker in Turn 2 and opened a two-length margin over Pereira. He maintained that margin to the finish, winning by 0.543-second. Pereira was second, followed by Marchetti, Eaker and Chris Hott. Abbott, who caught a piece of Michaud’s incident and pitted under the last caution flag, ended up sixth.
In a 25-lapper for the KeesVacations.com Super Trucks, Michael Waters overcame an inversion of the top four qualifiers and rolled to his third win in a row.
Waters was quickest in time trials, at 75.079 mph, but spun a “4” on the inversion wheel. He dropped to the outside of Row 2, while former division champ Tommy Nixon, making his first start of the year, assumed the pole position.
Nixon showed the way for laps 1-4, leading up to the first caution flag. Waters, who had moved up to third, was the first to break for the outside lane as the field bunched for a restart.
Back under way, Waters powered ahead of Nixon off Turn 2 to take over the lead. The second caution flag appeared on the next lap.
On the restart, Waters maintained the lead, while Chase McAdams slipped into second. At the halfway point, Waters was up by two lengths.
The third caution flag flew on lap 16 when McAdams spun in Turn 2.
Trevor Battoia spun to avoid McAdams, while Bill Wallace was collected in the mishap.
The fourth and fifth caution flags waved on laps 17 and 18 as the event inched along to the conclusion. Bunching for the final restart, Waters, Colby Vance, Nixon, Wallace and Jacob Carr made up the top five. Battoia and Richard Ellis, the sixth- and seventh-place runners, restarted on the high side.
As the race resumed, Vance gave Waters a boost from the rear and pushed him clear of Battoia. Quickly, Waters forged a two-length advantage over the rest of the field.
While Waters sailed toward Victory Lane, things were getting a little dicey in his mirror. On the white-flag lap, Battoia, Vance and Nixon went three-wide down the backstretch, looking to snag a runner-up finish. Nixon emerged from the jumble, while Vance and Battoia tangled and spun in Turn 4.
At the checkers, Waters was the winner by 1.352 seconds over Nixon. Ellis was third, while Carr and Wallace rounded out the top five. McAdams came home in sixth, followed by Vance. Battoia was unable to complete the last lap and wound up eighth.
In the evening’s final event, Dave Wedding drew the pole and led all 30 circuits for his fourth win in the Bojangles’ Enduro race. With some of his stronger challengers starting deep in the field, Wedding pulled away by a full straightaway in the first five laps. On the seventh circuit, race winners Derrick Boggess and Richard Quinn moved up to second and third and a three-way battle seemed to be in the offing.
Instead, though, Boggess and Quinn spent the next 12 laps scuffling with each other, while Wedding maintained a sizable advantage.
Quinn finally get the better of Boggess on lap 18 and was able to trim a few car-lengths from Wedding’s margin in the closing laps. It was too little, too late, though, as Wedding won by better than half a straightaway. Boggess was third to the stripe, followed by Scotty Buchanan and Dustin Cisco.
– LLangley Speedway press release. Photo credit: