Falk takes Langley season opener

Published 9:19 pm Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wes Falk stands in Victory Lane with, from left, a young Warren family cousin, Eddie Falk (Wes’s father), his mother Susan, and spotter Mason Dunn after his win in the Pomoco Auto Group 100 Lap event for the “EZ Auto in Newport News Late Model Stock Cars” at NASCAR’S Whelen All-American Series season opener at Langley Speedway in Hampton.

By Gary Daughtrey
Special to the News-Herald

Stealing a bit of his older brother’s thunder, Wes Falk assumed the lead in the closing laps and rolled to victory in the Pomoco Auto Group 100 for the Late Model Stock Cars event in Saturday’s season-opening NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program at Langley Speedway.

Greg Edwards claimed the pole position for the event, qualifying at 89.417 mph. Nick Smith lined up on the outside of Edwards on the front row. Mark Wertz and Brandon Gdovic occupied Row 2, while Danny Edwards Jr. and Shayne Lockhart made up Row 3. C.E. Falk, Wes’ brother, who carried over a nine-race Langley winning streak from last season, was seventh on the grid. Wes Falk launched from the ninth spot.

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As the race got under way, Greg Edwards bolted into the lead, pulling ahead of Smith, who quickly found Wertz to his inside. Smith fended him off to take the runner-up spot. By then, however, Edwards had already opened a six-length advantage.

The first caution flag waved on lap 9 when Gdovic and Casey Wyatt tangled in Turn 4. Gathering for a restart, Smith opted for the outside lane. He was joined up top by Danny Edwards Jr., Gdovic and Wyatt.

Back under green, Greg Edwards cleared Smith, while C.E. Falk slipped past Danny Edwards Jr. to take over fourth. Falk wasn’t finished, though, as he went after Wertz on the following circuit and came away with the third spot.

At the head of the field, Greg Edwards was on cruise control. By lap 16, his lead had grown to nearly half a straightaway over Smith.

The second caution flag flew on lap 48, when rookie Jeremy Grogg lost an engine in Turns 1 and 2. As the field prepared for the restart, C.E. Falk pulled to the outside lane, followed by Danny Edwards Jr., seventh-place Wes Falk and Wyatt.

As the race resumed, Edwards powered ahead of Falk, who slid into second, then gradually began to ease away. By lap 60, Edwards was up by six lengths and threatening to run off and hide. He was thwarted, however, when J.T. Jackson spun in Turn 3 on lap 62 to bring out the third yellow flag.

On the ensuing restart, Greg Edwards made his way ahead of Smith, who was positioned on his outside flank. In Turns 1 and 2, though, C.E. Falk, who had been following in Edwards’ tire tracks, came to life and pulled to the inside of the leader. Edwards maintained the top spot as they returned to the flagstand to complete lap 62, but, on the next circuit, Falk edged out front for the first time.

Clearing Greg Edwards, C.E. Falk gained a slim lead as Edwards remained parked in his mirror. The two dueled nose-to-tail until lap 82, when Edwards retook the point on the backstretch and began to drive away.

The complexion of the event took a drastic turn on lap 89, as three caution flags jumbled the running order and catapulted Wes Falk into the lead.

The last of the race’s seven caution flags came out on lap 93 when Wertz’s engine expired impressively at the end of the front stretch, collecting Smith in the process.

Bunching for what would turn out to be the final restart, Wes Falk was joined up front by Gdovic. Just behind them were Danny Edwards Jr. and C.E. Falk.

As the green flag reappeared, Gdovic hung tough on the outside and trailed by only half a car-length as the leaders returned to the flagstand. Wes Falk cleared him on lap 94, though, and quickly opened a three-length margin to put an end to the drama.

At the checkers, Wes Falk was the winner by 0.572-second over Gdovic. Danny Edwards Jr. was third, followed by C.E. Falk and Wyatt. Carroll was sixth, while Shreeves and Lockhart were seventh and eighth, respectively.

After dominating much of the event, Greg Edwards ended up ninth, the final driver on the lead lap. Jackson was shown in 10th, a lap off the pace.

In Victory Lane after the race, Wes Falk commented on the circumstances that delivered the win for him: “I just saw my brother and Greg just going at it, and I was like, ‘Just gotta wait.’ I knew one was gonna mess up. Just gotta wait. Just gotta wait.”