Defending champ wins as Langley goes green for ‘09

Published 8:25 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Beginning his quest for a third straight track championship, Danny Edwards Jr. turned in a dominating performance to notch the victory in the Hampton Roads Toyota Dealers 100 for the Crossroads Fuel Service Late Model Stock Cars, the featured event of Saturday evening’s season-opening NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program at Langley Speedway.

Edwards bagged the pole position in qualifying, touring the .395-mile oval at 87.551 mph. C.E. Falk was second-quickest, only 23-thousandths of a second off Edwards’ pace.

As the race got under way, Edwards leaped ahead of Falk and took the lead into Turn 1. Before the first lap was in the books, however, trouble broke out as Paul DeBolt, Dean Shiflett and Greg Edwards piled up at the end of the backstretch. All three drivers were relegated to the sidelines for the duration, while the rest of the field lined up for a complete restart.

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Under green for a second time, Edwards pulled out front as the pack exited Turn 2. Woody Howard rushed to fill the void to the inside of Falk and came away with the runner-up position. Howard and Falk battled over the second-place spot throughout the 100 laps.

On what would turn out to be the final restart, after a caution flag on lap 63, Falk latched onto Edwards in a bid for the lead. He was able to stay with Edwards for a couple laps, but the leader began to ease away. Meanwhile, Howard was closing on Falk.

At the finish, Edwards was the winner by 1.277 seconds over Falk. Aaron Adams overtook Howard on lap 97 to snag third. Howard was fourth, while Jeff Shiflett, Mark Wertz, John Staton, Wesley Falk, Tiffany Daniels and Shawn Balluzzo completed the top 10.

In Victory Lane after the race, Edwards said, “it’s been a long winter. Just glad to get back out here and get started again. Lot of anxious moments. We let one slip by at the end of last year, the last race of the season, got involved in a wreck there, had to rebuild the car, so we were unsure about how it was going to run this year. But, I think tonight eased my mind a little bit.”

In Saturday’s other feature events:

Thanks to a pre-race miscue by fast qualifier Shawn Balluzzo, Chris Johnson landed on the pole for the start of the 50-lap B&C Seafood Modified feature. It was the only lucky break he’d need as he showed the way from flag-to-flag to pick up the win.

Balluzzo was tops in time trials. As the field circulated prior to the initial green flag, Balluzzo suddenly pulled out of line. He had taken to the track without his fire-resistant gloves — a Langley requirement — and had to wait for a crew member to retrieve them. He rejoined the tail of the field, while Johnson moved up to the inside of Row 1.

Balluzzo raced through the field and gained second place on lap 46. At the finish, time ran out on Balluzzo’s as Johnson won by four lengths.

Ryan Nester started on the pole and led all the way to win the 50-lap Atlantic Power Sweeping Super Streets.

As in the Modified event, missing gloves factored into the outcome as several drivers, including four of the top six, had to pull into the pits before the race to pick up the safety gear, losing their starting spots in the process.

At the finish, Nester was the winner by better than half a straightaway over Randy Sample.

Pole starter Tommy Nixon paced the 25-lap Med Express Urgent Care Super Truck race from green to checkers to pick up the victory.

At the checkers, Nixon was the winner by nearly half a straightaway over Brad Adams.Robbie Davis was third, followed by Paul Hogge Sr. and Chase McAdams.

After weathering a tough 2008 season, Randy Prillaman greeted the 2009 EZ Auto of Newport News UCAR campaign with guns a-blazin’. He set a division record in qualifying and backed it up with a flag-to-flag victory in the 25-lap feature contest.

Greg Pass provided a constant challenge for the race winner, finishing just three lengths back. Adam Florian, who won the final two races of ‘08, was third to the line.

With a drafting boost from David Phelps, Jeremy Grogg moved out front on lap 15 and rolled to victory in a 20-lapper for the Rhonnda Claiborne, Realtor HRKC Pro Winged Champ Karts.

Chuck Weeks started on the pole and led the first 14 circuits before giving way to the Grogg/Phelps tandem.

Phelps rode Grogg’s bumper until the final lap when he swung wide off Turn 4. He couldn’t overtake Grogg at the checkers, though, finishing 89-thousandths of a second behind.