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Third-generation racer has eyes on more firsts
May 21, 2006 - updated May 21st, 2006 10:48pm
Web posted by Jason Jordan

Hampton, Va --

Featured in the May 20, 2006 print edition of the Daily Press, Hampton Roads VA.

Casey Wyatt gained his initial Late Model stock car victory two weeks ago and is looking for his second.

With 30 laps to go in his 75-lap Late Model race at Langley Speedway last Saturday, Casey Wyatt was exactly where he wanted to be, in fourth place.

After all, with the different camshaft and cylinder heads inside the engine of his new car, Wyatt has about 100 more horsepower, which plays to his strategy of hanging around the top five and making a late push for first.

That worked on May 6 when he gained his first Late Model stock car victory. But, a week ago, just as he moved to within two car lengths of the leader, he was involved in a wreck and blew a tire.

"I was just about to start setting up the second-place guy," Wyatt said. "We were optimistic about what the outcome could've been."

Wyatt's father, Wayne, added: "I think there was about a 90-percent chance that we could've won our second race."

Wyatt will try for win No. 2 tonight in the Late Model 75-lapper at Langley.

"It won't be easy," Wyatt said. "It's never been easy since I started racing."

That was when he was 8, racing competitively on go-karts, traveling as far as Charlotte, N.C., to compete.

"The speed drew me in," Wyatt said. "I was 8 years old doing 45 mph, and when I was 12, I was doing 80 mph. That's all on a go-kart."

When he was 14, Wyatt started racing cars. Wayne Wyatt, a former owner of Langley, pulled a few strings to let Wyatt race a Chevy S10. That season, Wyatt said, he became the youngest driver to win a race at a NASCAR-sanctioned track. "It was pretty cool because the race I won was on national television," Wyatt said. "My dad's insurance went way up, but it was worth it." Such a feat could almost be expected from a third-generation racing fiend. Wyatt's grandfather, Pop, began racing when he came back from serving in World War II in the 1940s, traveling from town to town to race. "He raced from the beaches in Daytona to the wooden tracks in Maine," Wyatt said. "I've been around it all of my life, so racing is really not a hobby; it's a way of life."

Wyatt has three other brothers, two older and one younger, all of whom race or have raced.

"Casey's been the one that has gotten the opportunity and stuck with it," Wayne said.

And it has paid off. Despite taking 2003 and 2004 off to study mechanical engineering at Old Dominion, Wyatt has won two races and four poles, and has 36 top-10 finishes and 14 top-fives in 57 starts since 2000.

"We've been known to have the toughest competition on the East Coast," Wyatt said. "Guys that have had over 100 wins come to Langley and never get one win."

Wyatt celebrated his first stock-car win ritualistically, hitting up a local pizza joint with crew members and family. But Wayne warned his son not to overdo it.

"The saying goes that you're no better than your last run," Wayne said. "I told him that we couldn't get too happy about that win if we want more."

Wyatt wants plenty more, and with a win under his belt early in the season, it looks feasible that he'll get just that.

"I think the other guys are definitely keeping their eye on me even more now," Wyatt said. "Any week it could be one of us, but I want it to be me." «


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