Suffolk driver wins as Langley opens

Published 10:40 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2011

By Gary Daughtrey
Special to the News-Herald

HAMPTON — Saturday’s 2011 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season opener at Langley Speedway came to a premature end when showers descended upon the track during the Late Model Stock Car race, the fifth of six scheduled events.

Landon Florian, from Suffolk, celebrates with his dad Chris after winning the 25-lap UCAR feature Saturday night at Langley Speedway.

In the four races able to get in before the weather won, Suffolk teen Landon Florian won the 25-lap UCAR feature, Cameron Patrick won the 50-lap Modified race, Spencer Saunders won the 25-lap INEX Legends feature and Tommy Nixon won the 25-lap Super Trucks.

Email newsletter signup

Dating back to the end of the 2010 Langley season, Florian won his fourth straight UCAR feature with Saturday’s result. Florian muscled back into the lead on lap 24 to go on and win.

Florian started on the pole with Chris Hildebrand starting second and moving into the second spot behind Florian on the start.

Florian pulled away during a run of green flag laps from laps 4-15. The third yellow flag of the event flew on lap 16 and touched off an epidemic of “yellow fever.” Before the conclusion of the event, the yellow flag would make four more appearances.

On the final restart, at lap 22, Hildebrand finally got the drop on Florian, ducking underneath the leader at the flagstand and grabbing the lead into Turn 1.

Florian launched a bid to retake the top spot on lap 24. He poked a fender under Hildebrand into Turn 3 and rooted Hildebrand up the race track. The two leaned on each other all the way through the corner with Florian exiting Turn 4 in the lead as the white flag came into view.

At the finish, Florian was the winner by 0.366-second — about two lengths — over Hildebrand.

Patrick started on the pole and wired the field to win the Modified race in dominating fashion.

Passing the halfway mark, Patrick enjoyed a full-straightaway lead over Chris Johnson. That advantage vanished, however, when the race’s only yellow flag waved on lap 27.

Just eight laps after the restart, Patrick was up by six lengths. At the finish, Patrick was the winner by 3.275 seconds — a full straightaway — over Johnson.

In the 25-lap INEX Legends feature, Saunders scooted by Brian May in traffic on the 13th circuit and showed the way to the checkered flag.

May was the fast qualifier for the event and jumped out front on the opening lap of the race. Saunders started in the eighth position.

Saunders moved past Steve Ward for second on a restart early in the race. By lap 11, Saunders had closed to within two lengths of May’s rear bumper.

On the next lap, May ran up on a lapped car. Exiting Turn 4, May and Saunders were side-by-side with Saunders on the inside. Saunders nabbed the lead on lap 13 and brought Brad Hancock along with him.

Saunders gradually increased his lead over Hancock. By the finish, his winning margin had grown to about five lengths.

Tommy Nixon was the winner of a 25-lapper for the Super Trucks. He took the lead on the ninth circuit, then held on for the victory.

Over the final five circuits, Robbie Davis closed at the rate of about a truck-length a lap. Time and laps ran out on him, though, as Nixon won by 0.297-second — a single length.