A season of firsts for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will continue with the inaugural VisitHamptonVA 175 at Langley Speedway on Saturday, June 18.
Langley will be the third of four tracks to play host to NASCAR’s top developmental series for the first time in 2011. While NASCAR stock cars have a long and storied history at the costal Virginia oval, Saturday’s event will be yet another milestone for both series and track.
As the K&N Pro Series East makes its third and final trip to Virginia this year, the championship picture is starting to come into focus. Now past the halfway point of the season, four drivers have started to break away from the pack.
The only driver with a top-10 finish in all six races, Darrell Wallace Jr. brings a slim five-point advantage to Langley on Max Gresham. The second-year drivers has the fewest top-five finishes of the title contenders, but he’s yet to finish worse than sixth.
While Wallace was expected to contend after a third-place finish in 2010, Gresham is perhaps the surprise of the group with five-consecutive top-five finishes entering Langley, including a victory last week at Gresham Motorsports Park. He had two wins as a rookie last year, but just four top 10s total.
Matt DiBenedetto sits third in the standings, just 12 points back of Wallace. He’s made the most of his return to the series with four top fives, and he appears to be warming up with the weather as he won two weeks ago at Bowman Gray Stadium and finished second at Gresham.
Preseason championship favorite Brett Moffitt is hanging in there – 84 points down – despite two weeks that he’d rather forget. After his second win of the year at Iowa Speedway, Moffitt took a one point lead on Wallace to Bowman Gray, but was involved in a couple of accidents and limped home 16th. He then cut a tire with 14 laps to go at Gresham and finished 16th there as well.
Wallace is now the only driver to hold the points lead for two-straight races this year and the first trip to Langley will provide yet another challenge for him and the rest of the competition as they continue the championship quest.
Stock Cars Return to Langley … The last NASCAR stock car series to visit the historic short track was the NASCAR Goody’s Dash Series in the 1999 season finale. The first touring series to run there since that time was the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, which debuted there in 2010.
Gdovic’s Homecoming … Many of the stops along the K&N Pro Series East schedule feature homecomings for series drivers, and this week it will Brandon and Rick Gdovic that will have the home track advantage. Rick, the father, competed a handful of years at Langley prior to joining the East this year and was a two-time winner of the track’s Sportsman of the Year Award. Brandon, the son, competed at Langley in 2010.
Busy Stretch … The VisitHamptonVA 175 will be the last of three-straight weeks of racing for the K&N Pro Series East. For a series that many times does not even feature races two weeks in a row, this is the first time that there have been three-consecutive race weeks since July of 2008.
Tune-In Reminders … The VisitHamptonVA 175 will be broadcast live on NASCARHomeTracks.com via Speed 51 Radio ... The Slack Auto Parts 150, held on June 11 at Gresham Motorsports Park, will air on SPEED on Thursday, June 16 at 6 p.m.
The Race … The inaugural VisitHamptonVA175 at Langley Speedway will be the seventh event in a 12-race schedule this year for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, and the last of three trips to the state of Virginia.
The Procedure … The starting field is 30 cars, including provisionals. The first 26 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 175 laps (70 miles).
The Track … On property that was originally a .8-mile horse track, the racing surface was cut in half and made exclusively an auto racing facility in 1950. The track, which played host to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from 1964-70, was converted to asphalt in 1968.
Home Tracks: Langley Speedway
Langley Speedway is one of the oldest weekly racing facilities in the nation, and is one of nine tracks that have been a sanctioned member in each of the 30 years of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
Langley has a total of 10 divisions that compete throughout the season on alternating weeks, headlined by the Late Models. C.E. Falk III, the defending track champion, once again leads the way in 2011 thanks to wins the last two weeks. Between Langley and South Boston Speedway, Falk had compiled 296 points as of June 7 and ranked ninth nationally.
The Modified and Grand Stock divisions will share the race card with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East on June 18.
25 For 25
The 2011 season is the 25th in series history. From its days as the Busch North Series, to the present-day NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, there are countless moments that have come to define the series. Each week we will take a look back at those moments and figures that have defined the series.
Father & Son: With the K&N Pro Series East heading to Langley Speedway this week – the home track of Rick and Brandon Gdovic – we take a look at a pair of father and son duos that made it on the series’ all-time wins list.
The most successful father and son combination was Kelly and Ryan Moore, with 29 combined victories. Like the Gdovics, Kelly and Ryan competed head-to-head in the first two of Ryan’s three full seasons in the series. In 33 races where they raced together, Kelly and Ryan both finished in the top 10 13 times. Ryan nabbed his two wins in 2005, the first season that Kelly stepped back to a part-time schedule.
Unlike the Gdovics and the Moores, Martin Truex and Martin Truex Jr. competed in just one race together, the Busch 125 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2000. Senior finished fifth that day to Junior’s 29th, in his first race at the ‘Magic Mile.’ It took Martin Jr. little time to join his father on the series’ all-time wins list, however, as he won the second visit to Loudon that season. The pair combined for six series wins.
Last Time Out: Slack Auto Parts 150
The second installment of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Gresham Motorsports Park proved to be just what the fans needed after sticking out a rain delay of more than two hours. Max Gresham thrilled the hometown fans at his family’s track by holding off hard-charging Darrell Wallace Jr. and Matt DiBenedetto during a green-white-checker finish for his third career win and first of 2011.
Race Notes: Andrew Smith took home three of the four contingency awards in the race and recorded a career-best finish of third … Corey LaJoie finished fifth to mark the second time in his young career he has registered back-to-back top-five efforts … In just his third career start, Chad Finchum finished seventh for the second race in a row … Dylan Presnell finished eighth in his series debut … Other drivers with career-best finishes include: Benny Gordon (10th), Daniel Suarez (14th), Tanner Berryhill (18th) … Following a caution-marred debut for the K&N Pro Series East at the fast half mile a year ago, the 2011 edition saw just six yellow flags for 32 laps.
Up Next: New England 125
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will return to its unofficial home track with the New England 125 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 15 in Loudon, N.H. The 2011 New England 125 will mark the 55th event in K&N Pro Series East history at the ‘Magic Mile,’ the most at any facility in the series’ 25-year history.
Ryan Truex captured both races in Loudon a year ago and Brett Moffitt was the pole winner both times. With Truex’s move up to the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Eddie MacDonald and Matt DiBenedetto are the only two drivers expected to enter the upcoming race that have NHMS wins to their credit.
The K&N Pro Series East will be joined in Loudon on race weekend by the NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The East will have afternoon practice and qualifying on Thursday and the green flag on Friday at 5 p.m.