Langley Speedway News
Coca-Cola Night Race Report Saturday, Sept. 24, 2005
Sep 25, 2005 - updated Sep 25th, 2005 11:15am
Web posted by Gary Daughtry
Hampton, VA --
NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series at Langley Speedway
Coca-Cola Night Race Report Saturday, Sept. 24, 2005
(Sept. 24) — Shawn Balluzzo took the lead on the fourth circuit and rolled on to his first victory of the season in the Coca-Cola 75 for the Chick-fil-A Late Models, the headlining event of Saturday evening’s NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series program at Langley Speedway.
Balluzzo was quickest in qualifying for the race, touring the .395-mile oval at 84.502 mph. Mark Wertz, the previous week’s winner, was second-fastest and moved over to the pole position when a “2” came up on the inversion wheel.
Behind Wertz and Balluzzo, Casey Wyatt and Greg Edwards made up Row 2. Championship contenders Danny Edwards and Tommy Cherry lined up fifth and eighth, respectively.
As the race got under way, Wertz jumped into the lead. Wyatt pulled alongside Balluzzo, but had to fall back in line as Balluzzo powered ahead off the second corner. Danny Edwards took fourth from Greg Edwards, while Doug Warren and Cherry emerged from the race-opening shuffle in sixth and seventh.
Before the field had gotten fully settled in, trouble broke out on lap 4 as Mark Claar lost an engine on the backstretch. He spun into Turn 3, collecting Ron Blackburn. Arriving on the scene, Wertz slipped in Claar’s oil and pounded the outside wall, bringing his night to an early end.
Lining up for the restart, Balluzzo was the new leader, followed by Wyatt, Danny Edwards, Greg Edwards, Warren and Cherry, who needed to finish sixth or better to wrap up the ‘05 title.
Back under green, Balluzzo fashioned a slim margin over Wyatt, then began to ease away. By lap 20, his advantage had grown to nearly half a straightaway. With Balluzzo driving off into the distance, Danny Edwards began to apply additional pressure on Wyatt for the second spot.
On lap 33, Cherry slipped past Warren to crack the top five. A lap later, Danny Edwards grabbed the runner-up position from Wyatt. Greg Edwards moved into third on lap 39, dropping Wyatt to fourth. With his pursuers scrambling among themselves in his mirror, Balluzzo widened his lead.
For all practical purposes, the battle for the track title ended on lap 41 when Danny Edwards suddenly dropped off the pace out of Turn 4. He limped back around the track for one more circuit, then headed to the pits, retiring to a 21st-place finish. Edwards’ premature departure left Balluzzo with a full-straightaway lead.
The second caution flag waved on lap 46 for debris in Turn 1. Just after the ensuing restart, the yellow flag was flying again as Rick Gdovic and Bobby Dean spun in Turn 4. Gathering for the restart, Balluzzo, Greg Edwards, Wyatt, Cherry and Warren made up the top five.
As the race resumed, Balluzzo opened a two-length advantage over Greg Edwards. That gap stayed fairly consistent until lap 58 when Balluzzo, working smoothly past lapped traffic, pulled away by six lengths.
The fourth and fifth caution flags, the last ones of the event, appeared on laps 65 and 66 for Turn 4 spins by Gdovic.
On the final restart, Balluzzo quickly forged a two-length edge over Greg Edwards. Over the remaining circuits, Edwards was able to close in a bit at the end of the straightaways, but was no match for Balluzzo off the corners.
At the finish, Balluzzo was the winner by 0.372-second — about two lengths — over Greg Edwards. Wyatt was third, followed by Cherry and Nick Smith, who snatched fifth place from Doug Warren on lap 74.
Anthony Warren was sixth, passing his uncle on the final circuit. Doug Warren ended up seventh, while Mitch Sarvis, Danny Harrell and Brian Carter completed the top 10. Paul DeBolt, Billy Fisher and K.C. Cunningham were 11th, 12th and 13th, in that order, the final drivers to finish the entire distance.
In Victory Lane after the race, Balluzzo revealed the key to his long-awaited success: “The guys that worked and got discouraged, just like me, all year long...but, when Rick Hester offered us this motor, he said it’s not a great motor — to me it’s a great motor — he said it’s better than what you had. And I hemmed and hawed, I didn’t want to borrow something. And, then, we got together and talked about it for a few days and decided to put it in and that’s all we needed. That’s all we’ve needed all year, is a motor. We could’ve been doing this since the beginning of the year. The car’s handling great. The guys, all the guys, have done a fantastic job.”
For his part, Greg Edwards seemed somewhat puzzled by his runner-up showing: “Y’know, we’ve been just a little bit off the last couple weeks and just couldn’t put our hands on it. We thought maybe we had some mismatched tires last week, but evidently that’s not the case. My tire guys are doing a great job, as well as Charlie High Racing Engines, they give me plenty of motor. I don’t know. I’ve gotta congratulate Shawn. He definitely picked his program up this week. He was really good down the straightaways and good getting through the corner, so that’s what you have to do.”
Wyatt, whose third-place outing equaled his best finish of the year, noted that the result didn’t come without some struggles: “The car was a handful, especially there at the end. We were fighting a tight condition the second half of the race. Trying to run down Greg and fight off Tommy was definitely a handful. Really gotta thank the crew for doing such a good job this week, getting the car back together. We had a terrible week last week and a ton of work, this week, to do. And, we got it back out here. Got it back on the podium. Real happy about that.”
With Danny Edwards on the sidelines, Cherry was able to stroll to the ‘05 Late Model title. In the final points tally (pending official verification), Cherry ended up with 1,026 to 980 for Danny Edwards. Greg Edwards was third with 974, while Balluzzo and Anthony Warren were fourth and fifth with 932 and 878 points, respectively.
In his post-race comments, Cherry noted Danny Edwards’ bad luck: “I’m sorry Danny broke. I didn’t want to get it like that. I wanted to race to the end for it, but we’ll take it any way we can get it.”
In the evening’s other feature events:
An inversion of the top four qualifiers landed Brad Causey on the pole for the 40-lap Super 8 Motels Grand Stock feature and he took full advantage of the situation, wiring the field for his first win of the year.
David Gray paced the afternoon qualifying session, turning in a lap at 77.061 mph, and started fourth. Ricky Derrick lined up alongside Causey on the front row, while Ryan Nester shared Row 2 with Gray. Points leader Dean Shiflett, needing to finish 11th or better to clinch the division title, started fifth.
Under green, Causey and Derrick remained side-by-side until Turns 3 and 4 when Causey pulled out front. Derrick dropped into second, followed by Nester, Gray and Shiflett.
By the seventh circuit, Causey had opened a four-length lead over Derrick, while Nester, Gray and Shiflett were bumper-to-bumper, almost half a straightaway back.
Riding along in fifth place, Shiflett had an anxious moment on lap 25 when he nearly got three-wide with a pair of lapped cars in Turn 3. Even though it cost him some real estate, Shiflett wisely backed out of the predicament.
Shiflett’s judgment was rewarded on lap 30 when Gray and Nester tangled in Turn 2 and Nester spun to bring out the first caution flag. Both Gray and Nester were sent to the rear of the field for the restart, while Shiflett moved up to third.
Only one more lap was completed before the second, and final, caution flag waved as a light shower passed over the Speedway. After a short delay, the field bunched for a restart with Causey, Derrick and Shiflett leading the way.
Back under green, Causey fashioned a two-length edge over Derrick, then began steadily to expand the margin.
At the finish, Causey was the winner by five lengths. Derrick was second, while Shiflett came home in third. Brandon Hinson was fourth and Gray rebounded from his scuffle with Nester to finish fifth. Nester was sixth in the final rundown.
In the final Grand Stock standings (pending official verification), Shiflett claimed the championship by 28 points over Nester, 906-878. Robert Ellis was third with 850, followed by Gray with 800 and Hinson with 644.
To have any chance at the 2005 nTelos Super Street championship, Mike Ganoe needed to turn in an outstanding performance in Saturday’s 50-lap points finale and hope for a poor showing by division leader Steve Dill.
Ganoe took care of his part of the equation, leading all 50 circuits from the pole for his fourth victory of the season. Unfortunately for him, though, Dill also took care of business, finishing third to clinch the crown.
Jason Moore was the fastest qualifier for the event, at 73.114 mph, and started on the outside of Row 1 after an inversion of the two-quickest qualifiers. Tommy Sweeney and Dale Parro made up Row 2, while Ritchie German and Dill occupied Row 3.
As the event got going, Ganoe leaped ahead of Moore to take the lead. Hung on the outside, Moore dropped to fifth by the end of the opening lap.
Things got worse for Moore on lap 2 as he spun off Turn 4 with a flat right-rear tire, bringing out the first caution flag. Ganoe, Sweeney, German, Dill and Parro made up the top five for the restart.
Back under green, Ganoe managed a one-length edge over Sweeney. Ganoe maintained that slim margin until just before the halfway mark when he stretched his lead to five lengths.
The second yellow flag flew on lap 22 when Sweeney was clipped by Mickey Evans’ lapped machine at the entrance to Turn 1. Evans spun to the infield and the field slowed for debris on the track.
As the race resumed, Ganoe and Sweeney bolted away from third-place Dill. Soon, though, Dill had made up the ground and was filling Sweeney’s mirror.
Dill grabbed the second spot on lap 27, but Sweeney wasn't quite ready to concede the battle. He regained the position on lap 44. The exchange allowed Ganoe to stretch his advantage to better than half a straightaway.
Just as Ganoe was taking the white flag to begin his final circuit, trouble erupted on the backstretch. Jeramie Wood, running ninth, spun and was slammed, head-on, by J.T. Brown in a fiery collision. The third, and final, caution flag (which was soon traded for a red flag) waved as rescue personnel and track officials rushed to the accident scene.
Wood was quickly removed from his car and treated by emergency workers. They had a more difficult time, however, extricating Brown. After a deliberate and concerted effort, Brown was taken from his car, his head and neck supported by a collar, and placed on a stretcher for an ambulance ride to the hospital.
After a lengthy cleanup process, the field gathered for a “green-white-checkered” finish.
On the final restart, Ganoe opened a two-length lead on the backstretch. By the finish, his winning margin had grown to three car-lengths over Sweeney, who notched his second straight runner-up showing. Dill was third, followed by German and Parro.
The final Super Street standings (pending official verification) showed Dill winning the championship by 10 points over Ganoe, 644-634. Tony Spivey was third with 552, followed by Kenny Wood with 518 and Scott Finch with 498.
Bill Mullis took the lead for good on lap 23 and posted his first win of the season in the 25-lap Hillco Building Maintenance Mini Truck contest.
John Hollis led the afternoon qualifying rounds, at 72.131 mph, and started second after an inversion of the top two. Mullis lined up on the pole, while Charlie Barclay and Carl Livingston made up Row 2. Hugo Belfiore, needing to finish fifth or better to clinch the championship, qualified ninth, but moved up to seventh when Scott Roser, the scheduled fifth-place starter, was unable to compete.
As the race got under way, Hollis grabbed the lead from Mullis. He paced the first two circuits before Mullis moved to the front for the first time on lap 3. On lap 5, Hollis regained the top spot and brought Barclay along with him, dropping Mullis to third. Belfiore, meanwhile, had moved up to fifth on lap 2.
Hollis enjoyed a five-length lead over Barclay when the first caution flag appeared on lap 20. In that incident, fourth-place Livingston tangled with a lapped truck and spun in Turn 2, collecting sixth-place Tommy Nixon and ninth-place Bill Wallace. Belfiore, running behind Livingston, narrowly avoided the wreck.
Back under green, Barclay went after Hollis for the lead, ducking low off Turn 2. He was ahead by half a length at the stripe and cleared Hollis on lap 21.
Two laps later, the second, and final, caution flag flew when Hollis made contact with Barclay in Turn 1, sending him for a spin. Both Hollis and Barclay were relegated to the rear of the field. Lining up for the last restart, Mullis, Belfiore and Ross Clements occupied the top three spots.
Under green for the final time, Mullis pulled away from the pack as Belfiore was bypassed by Clements.
At the finish, Mullis was the winner by three truck-lengths over Clements, who turned in his best run of the year. Belfiore was third, followed by Dale Bridwell and Evan VanLeeuwen. Barclay and Hollis ended up seventh and eighth, in that order.
With his third-place outing, Belfiore claimed the ‘05 Mini Truck title (pending official verification) by 16 points over Barclay, 740-724. Hollis was third with 722, followed by Mullis with 572 and Roser with 552.