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Langley Speedway

Langley Speedway News
Pena notches 2nd K&N Pro Series win in VisitHamptonVA 175
Jun 19, 2011 - updated Jun 19th, 2011 12:37pm
Web posted by Gary Daughtrey

Hampton Va. --

NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
at Langley Speedway - Hampton, VA
VisitHamptonVA 175
Race Report
Saturday, June 18, 2011

HAMPTON, Va. (June 18) — Sergio Pena of Winchester, Va., took the lead for good on lap 117 and rolled on to his second victory of the season as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East made its Langley Speedway debut with the running of Saturday evening’s VisitHamptonVA 175.
Third-generation driver Coleman Pressley was quickest in qualifying for the race, at 86.502 mph, and earned his second Coors Light Pole Award of the year. Alex Bowman shared the front row with Pressley, while Matt DiBenedetto and Pena made up the second row. Michael Cherry completed the top five on the 26-car starting grid.
As the race got under way, Bowman gained a slight edge over Pressley and swiped the lead at the end of lap 1. On the second circuit, though, Pressley battled back to the inside of Bowman and seized the clear-cut advantage as they exited Turn 4.
Behind the leaders, things weren’t going well for title contender Brett Moffitt. The Grimes, Iowa, driver started eighth, but fell off the pace in the opening laps with a cut tire. He came to the attention of his crew, the tire was replaced and he returned to the fray, two laps down.
Meanwhile, at the front, Bowman was under attack from Pena, who grabbed the runner-up position on lap 4 and brought DiBenedetto along with him. The exchange allowed Pressley to extend his lead to more than two car-lengths. By lap 11, however, Pena had chopped that gap down to just half a car-length.
The first caution flag flew on lap 17 for Brandon Gdovic’s spin in Turn 1. As the field bunched for a double-file restart, Pressley, Pena, DiBenedetto, Bowman and Cherry made up the top five.
Back under green, at lap 20, Pressley cleared Pena off Turn 2 and quickly fashioned a two-length edge. Behind them, Max Gresham, winner of the previous week’s race, made his way into the top five for the first time, picking off Cherry on lap 30.
By lap 34, Pena, with DiBenedetto in tow, had closed to within a car-length of Pressley’s rear bumper. Three lengths separated the lead trio from fourth-place Bowman, who was another three lengths ahead of fifth-place Gresham.
Pena pushed his machine to the front for the first time on lap 44. He ducked to the inside of Pressley as they entered Turn 1 and completed the pass off Turn 4. Just two laps later, he had already driven away by three lengths. Meanwhile, Bowman and Gresham were beginning to close on Pressley and DiBenedetto.
Pena made a bold move on lap 51 when he went three-deep on the backstretch to rid himself of two lapped machines. Pressley wasn’t as fortunate in navigating the traffic, though. On lap 53, he found himself boxed in and could only watch as DiBenedetto, Bowman and Gresham all scooted by, dropping him to fifth. With positions swapping hands in his mirror, Pena opened a half-straightaway lead.
The second yellow flag flew on lap 63 for Tanner Berryhill’s spin in Turn 2.
On the restart, at lap 68, Pena cleared DiBenedetto at the flagstand and brought Bowman and Gresham along with him. At lap 75, Pena led by three lengths over Bowman, who was busy holding off Gresham and DiBenedetto. Three more lengths separated that threesome from fifth-place Pressley, who had his hands full with Chase Elliott.
On lap 77, Elliott, the teenage son of NASCAR all-timer Bill Elliott, ducked under Pressley in Turn 1. He finished off the pass in Turn 3 on the following circuit and made his first appearance on the top-five leaderboard.
The battle for second, third and fourth heated up on lap 79 when DiBenedetto tried to snag third from Gresham. Gresham fought him off, then turned his attention to Bowman, grabbing the runner-up spot on lap 80. DiBenedetto came along with Gresham and took over third.
As Gresham bypassed Bowman and began to drive away, it soon became obvious that he was closing ground on Pena, who had enjoyed a three-length advantage.
By lap 84, Gresham had erased that gap and he went after Pena on the backstretch, coming away with the top spot off Turn 4. DiBenedetto and Bowman also freight-trained past Pena, who fought off Elliott and slipped back in line, in fourth.
On lap 88, DiBenedetto took a run at Gresham for the lead, driving underneath him at the end of the backstretch. Gresham kept his machine cranked up on the outside, though, and held DiBenedetto at bay as they closed in on Michelle Theriault’s slower car.
The fans rose to their feet on lap 90 when, instead of settling into single-file formation, Gresham and DiBenedetto split Theriault on the backstretch with Gresham going high and DiBenedetto taking the low route. Gresham emerged from the scramble with his lead intact. Nearly lost in the shuffle, Pena was on the move again, slipping past Bowman for third.
By lap 97, Gresham had pulled away by four lengths over DiBenedetto, who saw Pena growing larger in his mirror. On lap 103, Pena scooted by DiBenedetto on the backstretch to reclaim second place. He immediately set off after the leader.
On lap 116, Pena nosed under Gresham on the back straightaway. The two went side-by-side for a lap before Pena used lapped traffic to his advantage and regained the lead on lap 117.
The extended green-flag run came to an end on lap 119 when Joey Gase spun off Turn 4, prompting the third caution period. In short order, three more yellow flags slowed the event, at laps 128, 135 and 144. During the stretch from laps 119-147, just 12 green-flag laps were recorded.
Lining up for what would turn out to be the final restart, Pena and Gresham went 1-2, followed by DiBenedetto, Elliott, who had moved into fourth, and Bowman. Meanwhile, lurking deeper in the field, was Moffitt, who had twice benefited from the “Lucky Dog” pass and was back on the lead lap with a stout race car.
Back under green, at lap 148, Pena quickly cleared Gresham, who was left in a side-by-side battle with DiBenedetto. Behind them, Moffitt was plowing his way through the field, cracking the top five on lap 160.
Also, on lap 160, DiBenedetto swiped second place from Gresham, only to have Gresham return the favor on the next lap, bringing Elliott along, to third, and leaving the door open for Moffitt, who was suddenly a serious contender for the win.
On lap 162, Moffitt dispensed with Elliott and took over third place. Within two laps, he was all over Gresham for second and took the spot on lap 165. All the while, Pena must have been smiling at the scuffle in his mirror as he pulled away by almost half a straightaway.
Over the closing laps, Moffitt’s rally seemed to plateau. He trimmed a car-length or two from Pena’s advantage, but it was a clear case of “too little, too late,” as Pena strolled to the checkered flag.
At the finish, Pena was the winner by 1.430 seconds — about six lengths — over Moffitt. Gresham was third, while DiBenedetto and Elliott completed the top five.
Bowman headed up the second five, in sixth, followed by Pressley, Corey LaJoie, Darrell Wallace Jr. and D.J. Shaw. In all, 18 cars were on the lead lap and all 26 starters were still running at the finish.
In Victory Lane, Pena was ebullient after his second win in the Commonwealth (He had won earlier this season at South Boston Speedway.): “This is just so great. It’s put me back up in points quite a bit, I believe. Y’know, we’ve had some bad luck the past few races and, luckily, we were able to pull it through here. I gotta thank my crew chief, Matt Goslant, and everybody at Revolution Racing, the Drive for Diversity program put on by NASCAR. All of them did such a great job. It’s unreal. My second win in Virginia, my hometown... not really my hometown, but close enough, right?”
Commenting on his competition at the end, Pena continued, “Yeah, y’know, Moffit came back. He had a heckuva race. I know he had some trouble, early on. But, he had a heckuva race to come back and finish second. Congratulations, Brett! Y’know, when I won at South Boston, it was the same people behind me, Gresham and DiBenedetto, so I was hoping it was gonna be a repeat of that and, luckily enough, it was.”
Asked about his first race experience at Langley Speedway, Pena exclaimed, “Oh, my gosh! If you haven’t driven here, it’s just hard to explain how to get around here. It’s really tough, especially on those restarts. Sometimes, it would take about two laps to get back in my rhythm because, especially Turn 2 and the wall coming out here in 4 is tough. But, that’s what makes it exciting. And, not only can you pass on the inside, but you can pass on the outside here. It was just an awesome race, an awesome track. I feel so blessed to win here. It’s just amazing.”
In his post-race comments, Moffitt noted the struggles to rebound from his early misfortune: “It was my fault. I got a little too close to the 2 car (Ryan Gifford), but we recovered from it and that’s what championship teams are made of. I was praying for a caution there (at the end of the race). My stuff was worn out, but I was just praying for a chance to get to him (Pena). But, we’ll take second after all that.”
In the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East standings, Gresham has moved into the top slot, 17 points ahead of DiBenedetto. Wallace, the leader coming into the event, dropped to third, followed by Moffitt and Pressley. Pena, in 12th at the beginning of the night, vaulted to sixth, only one point behind Pressley. Bowman, LaJoie, Eddie MacDonald and Andrew Smith complete the top 10.
After Saturday’s race at Langley, its third in as many weeks, the series will take a short breather before returning to action on Friday, July 15, in the New England 125 at the “Magic Mile” — New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Highlights from the VisitHamptonVA 175 will be broadcast on SPEED on Thursday, June 30, at 6 p.m.

In the evening’s other featured events:

The KeesVacations.com Modifieds ran a pair of 25-lap sprints and Mike Rudy swept the doubleheader to notch his first two victories of the season.
Shawn Balluzzo earned the pole for the first of the twin features, qualifying at 84.860 mph. Rudy was second-fastest, followed by Chris Johnson, Jimmy Humblet and Robbie Babb. Cameron Patrick, who came into the night with a four-race winning streak, didn’t post a lap and started near the tail of the 16-car field.
As the cars circulated on the pace laps, Johnson headed to the pits, giving up the third starting spot. He rejoined the rear of the field prior to the green flag. Babb moved up to third on the grid, while Joe Scarbrough slipped into the fifth position.
On the start, Balluzzo and Rudy dueled side-by-side with Balluzzo nosing ahead at the end of lap 1. He finally cleared Rudy in Turns 1 and 2 on lap 3. Rudy dropped in line behind Balluzzo and began to stalk the leader. Meanwhile, they were steadily pulling away from third-place Babb.
After tailing Balluzzo for the first 14 circuits, Rudy launched a bid for the top spot on lap 15, driving to the inside of the leader. He completed the pass as they headed into Turn 1 to begin lap 16. Just three laps later, Rudy had already manufactured a five-length advantage.
The first caution flag appeared on lap 20 for Joed Bruce’s spin in Turn 4. As the field gathered for a restart, Randy Monroe Jr. gave up the fourth spot in line, choosing to pull alongside Rudy.
While Monroe couldn’t overtake Rudy, he did manage to slide in line ahead of Balluzzo. After only one green-flag lap, the second, and final, yellow flag flew for Johnson’s spin off Turn 4.
On the last restart, Monroe poked the nose of his machine underneath Rudy as they roared into Turn 1. They battled neck-and-neck until lap 23 when Rudy regained command. As Rudy pulled away, Balluzzo moved to the inside of Monroe, swiping second on lap 24.
At the finish, Rudy was the winner by 0.622-second — about three lengths — over Balluzzo. Monroe was third, followed by Humblet and Patrick, who rallied from the 14th starting spot to take fifth.
The lineup for the 25-lap nightcap was determined by the finishing order of the first race, placing Rudy and Balluzzo on the front row.
The first attempt at a start went awry, resulting in the race’s only caution flag.
Finally under way, Rudy and Balluzzo race wheel-to-wheel until they reached Turns 3 and 4 where Rudy motored ahead. Balluzzo slipped into second, followed by Monroe, Patrick and a side-by-side tussle between Humblet and A.J. Winstead, which Winstead eventually won.
Balluzzo stayed within a couple car-lengths of Rudy for the first handful of laps. On lap 8, though, Rudy suddenly extended his advantage to four lengths and began to ease away. By the time the crossed flags were displayed, his lead had grown to nearly half a straightaway.
Passing the halfway mark, Patrick zeroed in on Monroe, looking to gain the third spot. Soon, though, he began to lose touch with Monroe, who maintained a solid grip on the position.
At the finish, Rudy was the winner by 1.351 seconds over Balluzzo. Monroe collected his second third-place finish of the evening, while Winstead and Humblet rounded out the top five.
In position for a top-five run, Patrick fell badly off the pace in the closing circuits and limped home in 10th.

In the 40-lap Pepsi Grand Stock race, Mark Claar assumed the lead on the third circuit and sped on to the victory, becoming the division’s first two-time winner this season.
Rodney Boyd claimed the pole, at 77.136 mph, sharing the front row with Ricky Derrick. Claar lined up third, followed by Robbie Parker and Carl Livingston.
As the race got going, Derrick held firm on the outside and nosed ahead to lead laps 1 and 2. On the third circuit, though, he and Boyd tangled and spun in Turn 2, bringing out the first caution flag, earning both drivers a trip to the back of the pack and handing the lead to Claar.
The second caution flag appeared when officials were unsatisfied with the ensuing restart.
Back under way, Claar dashed out front, while Paul Lubno, who had moved up from seventh to restart on the outside, tucked into second place. Parker, Brandon Hinson and Mark Frye completed the top five.
The third caution flag flew on lap 11, erasing Claar’s advantage over Lubno, which had grown to nearly half a straightaway. Bunching for a restart, Boyd and Derrick broke out of line, eager to reclaim a place near the top of the running order.
As the race resumed, Claar and Lubno dispensed with Boyd, who dropped into third place. Derrick, meanwhile, slid into the seventh spot.
On lap 12, Boyd overtook Lubno for second and quickly pulled to within two lengths of Claar. Behind them, Hinson grabbed fourth from Parker, who lost another spot to Derrick on lap 15.
The last of the race’s four caution flags waved on lap 16 when Michael Waters and Frye tangled in Turn 2. Gathering for another restart, everyone was content with their positions and stayed in single-file formation.
Back under green, Claar gained a slim, one-length edge over Boyd into Turn 1, stretching the advantage to two lengths as they rolled down the backstretch.
Behind the lead duo, Hinson snagged third place from Lubno on lap 19 and brought Derrick along with him, to fourth. One lap past the halfway mark, Derrick scooted past Hinson to move into third.
Meanwhile, at the front, Claar enjoyed a six-length lead over Boyd, whose car was beginning to show wisps of smoke as he entered the turns. Half a straightaway separated second-place Boyd from third-place Derrick.
Still smoking, Boyd managed to trim a car-length or so from Claar’s lead. It was clear, though, that he didn’t quite have the “oomph” to challenge for the win.
With the white flag in the air, white smoke suddenly belched from beneath the leader’s machine. Claar gutted out the final circuit, however, winning by 1.854 seconds. Boyd was the runner-up, followed by Derrick, Hinson and Livingston.
• • •

NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
at Langley Speedway - Hampton, VA
VisitHamptonVA 175
Race Results
Saturday, June 18, 2011

VisitHamptonVA 175
Fin. Pos. (Car #) Driver; Laps Compl.
1. (4) Sergio Pena; 175
2. (00) Brett Moffitt; 175
3. (18) Max Gresham; 175
4. (15) Matt DiBenedetto; 175
5. (9) Chase Elliott; 175
6. (16) Alex Bowman; 175
7. (14) Coleman Pressley; 175
8. (07) Corey LaJoie; 175
9. (6) Darrell Wallace Jr.; 175
10. (37) D.J. Shaw; 175
11. (62) Andrew Smith; 175
12. (8) Michael Cherry; 175
13. (71) Eddie MacDonald; 175
14. (98) Chad Boat; 175
15. (03) Cody Hodgson; 175
16. (27) Cale Conley; 175
17. (51) Brandon Haley; 175
18. (96) Ben Kennedy; 175
19. (12) Julian Albarracin; 174
20. (97) Tanner Berryhill; 174
21. (64) Rick Gdovic; 173
22. (08) Clay Campbell; 172
23. (2) Ryan Gifford; 172
24. (46) Brandon Gdovic; 172
25. (66) Joey Gase; 171
26. (45) Michelle Theriault; 169
Pole: Pressley - 86.502 mph.

Race #1
Fin. Pos. (Car #) Driver; Laps Compl.
1. (8) Mike Rudy; 25
2. (48) Shawn Balluzzo; 25
3. (03) Randy Monroe Jr.; 25
4. (11) Jimmy Humblet; 25
5. (20) Cameron Patrick; 25
6. (99) A.J. Winstead; 25
7. (44) Robbie Babb; 25
8. (08) Joe Scarbrough; 25
9. (1) Anthony Kincaid; 25
10. (36) Chris Johnson; 25
11. (87) Darrell Vance; 25
12. (77) Joed Bruce; 25
13. (17) Lauren Edgerton; 25
14. (71) Hunter Slayton; 22
15. (31) Chuck Britt; 15
16. (57) Robbie Davis; 4
Pole: Balluzzo - 84.860 mph.

Race #2
Fin. Pos. (Car #) Driver; Laps Compl.
1. (8) Mike Rudy; 25
2. (48) Shawn Balluzzo; 25
3. (03) Randy Monroe Jr.; 25
4. (99) A.J. Winstead; 25
5. (11) Jimmy Humblet; 25
6. (71) Hunter Slayton; 25
7. (36) Chris Johnson; 25
8. (44) Robbie Babb; 25
9. (1) Anthony Kincaid; 25
10. (20) Cameron Patrick; 25
11. (77) Joed Bruce; 25
12. (08) Joe Scarbrough; 25
13. (87) Darrell Vance; 24
14. (17) Lauren Edgerton; 23
15. (31) Chuck Britt; 17
16. (57) Robbie Davis; 5
Pole: Rudy - based on Race #1 finish.

Fin. Pos. (Car #) Driver; Laps Compl.
1. (7) Mark Claar; 40
2. (9) Rodney Boyd; 40
3. (8) Ricky Derrick; 40
4. (81) Brandon Hinson; 40
5. (77) Carl Livingston; 40
6. (01) Chris Hott; 40
7. (67) Paul Lubno; 40
8. (30) Chris Spangler; 40
9. (40) Andrew Condrey; 40
10. (2) Michael Waters; 40
11. (19) Robbie Parker; 40
12. (71) J.R. Smith; 39
13. (29) Mark Frye; 30
14. (5) Bubba Carr; 13
15. (54) Billy Newman; 10
Pole: Boyd - 77.136 mph.

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