Turning a tough season around

Published 8:02 pm Monday, August 8, 2011

Robbie Babb, second from left, celebrates with his crew after his second win in the Twin 25-lap Modifieds class features Saturday night during Quaker Steak and Lube Night at the Races at Langley Speedway. Babb qualified on the pole and led all 25 laps in both races. He’s one of the longest-running competitors, racing in a variety of classes, over the years at Langley.

By Gary Daughtrey
Special to the News-Herald

HAMPTON — Veteran driver Robbie Babb picked up his first two wins of the season, leading all 50 laps of the Quaker Steak & Lube Twin 25s for the KeesVacations.com Modifieds, the featured events of Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program at Langley Speedway.

Babb led the charge in afternoon qualifying, clocking in at 84.482 mph.

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The opening 25-lapper got off to an inauspicious start with three caution flags flying before the first lap could be recorded.

On the fourth attempt at a successful start, Babb bobbled slightly coming to the green flag and he and Chris Johnson raced wheel-to-wheel into Turn 1. Off the fourth corner, Babb gained the upper hand. Johnson settled into second, followed by Shawn Balluzzo, Anthony Kincaid and Cameron Patrick.

By the sixth circuit, Babb had extended his lead to six car-lengths over Johnson. That margin remained fairly constant to the halfway mark. Another six lengths separated Johnson and Balluzzo.

The last of the race’s four yellow flags waved on lap 15 when Joed Bruce spun in Turn 2. For the ensuing restart, Patrick gave up his fifth spot in line and pulled alongside Babb.

Back under green, Patrick put up a good fight before giving way to Babb at the end of the backstretch. As the leader motored ahead, Patrick slipped into second, in front of Johnson and Balluzzo.

By the finish, Babb had stretched his winning margin to 1.479 seconds — nearly half a straightaway — over Patrick. Balluzzo was third, followed by Johnson and Mark Slye.

The lineup for the second 25-lapper was the finishing order of the first race. As the nightcap got under way, Patrick gained a slight edge into Turn 1. Babb battled back on the inside, though, and led by half a car-length at the end of the first lap.

Passing the halfway mark, Babb was up by nearly a full straightaway, while Patrick, Johnson and Balluzzo were nose-to-tail.

Babb won by 3.772 seconds — a full straightaway — over Patrick. Johnson was third, while Balluzzo and Slye were fourth and fifth.

“It’s been a pretty tough battle this year,” Babb said. “We had a couple bad races at the start of the year. Y’know, mechanical issues or whatever. I think we’ve got it turned around.”

In the evening’s other featured events:

In the 40-lap Heritage Motor Co. Super Street race, Ritchie German started on the pole and led all the way for his fourth win of the season.

Robbie Davis and Tommy Nixon divided the wins in a pair of 20-lappers for the Larry King Law Super Trucks.

In the 25-lap EZ Auto of Newport News UCAR feature, Chris Hildebrand moved out front on lap 16 and sped on to his second win of the season.

Doug Warren led from pole to checkers to post his fifth victory in a 30-lap feature for the Standard Welding Pro Sixes.

Benjamin Roudabush and series leader Wayne Falls split a pair of 20-lap features for the Virginia Mini Cup Racing Association, which was making its first appearance of the season at Langley.