Two in a row for FlorianPublished 9:25pm Tuesday, July 31, 2012
By Gary Daughtrey
Special to the News-Heraldrelease
South Boston Speedway regular Matt Bowling snagged the lead on lap 148, and then survived a series of late-race restarts to capture the $10,000 top prize in the fifth annual Hampton Heat 200 for the late-model stock cars event at Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program at Langley Speedway.
The victory was just Bowling’s second in a late-model event and yielded his biggest career payday.
Greg Edwards was the fast qualifier, earning the Carl’s Racing Products Pole Award, at 87.637 mph.
Edwards took the lead on the start, while two-time defending race winner C.E. Falk emerged from an early duel with Bowling to grab second. Falk quickly closed on Edwards and pushed his machine to the front for the first time on lap 12.
Edwards regained the top spot on lap 35 and pulled away by as much as half a straightaway during a green-flag run that lasted until lap 67. Caution flags on laps 68, 86 and 98 brought the event to the halfway break, cut from 15 to 10 minutes as lightning flashed in the distance.
As the leader at lap 100, Edwards claimed a bonus payout from the Racing For Hope Foundation. Back under way, only one more lap was completed before the complexion of the race took a wild swing. In Turns 1 and 2 on lap 102, Edwards and Falk locked horns and the leader spun, bringing out the caution flag and earning both drivers a trip to the back of the pack.
The incident handed the lead to Kenny Forbes, who showed the way until lap 148 when Bowling took command.
The final quarter of the race was interrupted by yellow flags on laps 159, 167, 190 and 196, setting up a “green-white-checkered” sprint to the finish as the event headed for overtime. Lining up for the final green flag, Bowling was out front, followed by Wes and C.E. Falk. Forbes was fourth, while longtime Late Model standout Brandon Butler was fifth.
Coming to the green flag, to begin lap 202, Bowling appeared to spin his tires, giving C.E. Falk, who was restarting in the outside lane, a momentary advantage. Fearful of drawing a black flag for jumping the restart, though, Falk settled back alongside Bowling, who gained the clear-cut edge as they raced off Turn 4 toward the white flag.
At the finish, Bowling was the winner by two car-lengths, denying C.E. Falk’s three-peat bid. Wes Falk was third, while Butler and Forbes rounded out the top five. After dominating the first half of the event, Edwards, the division points leader, came home in sixth.
In the Pro Sixes event, Suffolk’s Landon Florian grabbed the lead on the 17th circuit and sped to his second win in a 30-lapper. Steve Williams started on the pole and paced the first 16 circuits before giving way to Florian.
Casey Sipe was second at the finish, five lengths back, followed by Nelson Moody, Bobby Hall and Williams. Landon Florian is from the Driver section of Suffolk and enjoys sponsorship from Sawyer Automotive in Suffolk.