HAMPTON, VA — Robbie Babb and Mike Rudy split the checkered flags in the Super Cuts Twin 30s for
the KeesVacations.com Modifieds, the featured events of Saturday evening’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program at Langley Speedway.
The lineup for the first race was determined via time trials and Babb topped the charts, circling the .395-mile oval at 85.870 mph. Anthony Kincaid was second-fastest, only 85-thousandths of a second off Babb’s pace. Casey Wyatt, Rudy and Shawn Balluzzo rounded out the top five on the grid.
As the opener got under way, Babb and Kincaid dueled until they reached Turn 4. Exiting the corner, Babb gained the upper hand and left the inside lane open for Wyatt, who moved up to second on lap 2. Kincaid dropped to third, while Balluzzo and Rudy went side-by-side for fourth.
In the early going, Babb was able to open a four-length margin over Wyatt, who was feeling pressure from Kincaid. Kincaid reclaimed the second spot on lap 9. Meanwhile, Babb extended his advantage to nearly half a straightaway.
The first caution flag waved on lap 11 when Cameron Patrick looped his machine in Turn 2. During the caution period, Wyatt made a visit to the pits and dropped from the top five. Gathering for a restart, Balluzzo and Rudy opted for the outside lane, joined up top by Darrell Vance, Patrick and Danny Harrell.
Back under green, Babb bolted ahead of Balluzzo, who quickly slipped into the second spot. Heading into Turn 1, though, Kincaid made contact with Balluzzo, sending him spinning and prompting the second yellow flag. Both Balluzzo and Kincaid retreated to the rear of the field.
The ensuing restart went awry when Rudy, launching from the outside, shot ahead of Babb before they reached the flagstand. The third yellow flag flew and the field slowed.
As the race resumed, Babb pulled ahead of Rudy for the top spot. Behind them, fourth-place Vance was under attack, giving way to Patrick, Wyatt, Kincaid and Balluzzo. On lap 14, Kincaid slipped past Wyatt for fifth. Two laps later, he overtook Patrick for fourth. Balluzzo was right behind, snagging fifth from Patrick on lap 17.
At the front, Babb enjoyed a five-length lead over Rudy. They were followed by third-place Todd VanGuilder. Deeper in the field, Balluzzo was sizing up Kincaid. Seeing the inside lane covered, he drove to Kincaid’s outside on lap 21. The two went door-to-door until lap 23 when Kincaid regained command in Turn 4.
On lap 25, Balluzzo took another stab at a high-side pass of Kincaid. Meanwhile, VanGuilder pulled into the pits, turning the Balluzzo/Kincaid tussle into a third-place battle. Balluzzo came out on top on lap 27, but faced a steep climb as Babb and Rudy were a straightaway ahead.
As for that lead duel, after trailing by five lengths with 10 to go, Rudy had sliced into Babb’s margin in the waning laps. His late charge came up short, though, as Babb held on to win by 0.323-second — about two lengths.
Balluzzo tailed the lead duo to the line, in third, followed by Kincaid and Patrick. Wyatt headed the second five, in sixth, while Vance was seventh, the final driver on the lead lap. Harrell was credited with eighth, a lap down. Early retirees VanGuilder and Adam Florian were ninth and 10th, respectively.
As he relished his first trip to Victory Lane in 2012, Babb noted his team’s efforts to overcome some early-season struggles: “We missed the mark the first couple of weeks. We really had to go home and do our homework. Really couldn’t figure out where we missed it. Me and my brother and everybody that’s helped on our car... we worked night and day on this thing, trying to figure out what’s going on with it. And, I think we might’ve hit on a little something, but I think we’ve still a ways to go.”
Babb also gave a special salute to engine builder Tommy Staton: “This is a loaned motor. We blew our motor up last year during the big Modified race and he’s been kind enough to let us use one of his house motors up until now, so this is really for him.”
The lineup for the second race was determined by the finishing order of the first, putting Babb and Rudy on the front row.
On the start, Babb and Rudy jousted side-by-side with Rudy gaining the upper hand as they raced off Turn 4 for the first time. Babb settled into second, followed by Balluzzo, Patrick and Kincaid.
On lap 3, Balluzzo suddenly slowed at the entrance to Turn 1 and pulled up high on the track, finally coming to a stop in Turn 2. With the yellow flag waving, he headed to the pits with a flat right-front tire.
As the field bunched for a restart, with Balluzzo still on the pit lane, Kincaid, Wyatt and Bobby Spivey motored to the outside lane to challenge the leaders.
Back under green, Rudy quickly dispensed with Kincaid, leaving him to scuffle with Babb for second. Babb won that exchange as he powered ahead of Kincaid at the end of the backstretch. Meanwhile, Balluzzo returned to the track, a lap down.
Through the first nine circuits, Babb was able to stay within a car-length or two of the leader. Exiting Turn 2 on lap 10, though, Rudy suddenly rocketed ahead by four lengths.
By the halfway mark, Babb had closed the gap a little. As the laps clicked off, however, Rudy gradually began to ease away.
At the finish, Rudy was the winner by 1.319 seconds — nearly half a straightaway — over Babb. Kincaid was third, followed by Wyatt and Matt Slye. Vance and Patrick were sixth and seventh, in that order, the final drivers to complete the entire distance. Balluzzo, Harrell and Florian rounded out the top 10.
The win was Rudy’s third of the season at Langley and his third of the weekend as he won two of three events at Richmond’s Southside Speedway on Friday night. It also vaulted him into first place in the division standings. He now leads Balluzzo by six points, 176-170. Kincaid is third, at 167, and Babb ranks fourth, at 154.
In Victory Lane after the event, Rudy made a special Father’s Day weekend dedication: “This race is for my dad. He passed away about three years ago. So, this is for him.”
Commenting on his run to the checkers, Rudy continued, “I know the 44 (Babb) was right there on me for a few laps and I didn’t know what we were gonna have. Our right-side tires were a little wore out, but they held up for me.”
In the evening’s other feature events:
Nick Smith kept his unbeaten streak alive in the 25-lap Cycle City Corp. INEX Legends feature. He moved out front on lap 4, then held on at the end to notch his fourth win of the season.
Defending division titlist Brad Hancock claimed the pole position, qualifying at 79.110 mph. Smith was the outside pole-sitter, just 37-thousandths of a second off Hancock’s standard. Steve Keesee, Brenden “Butterbean” Queen and Woody Howard were third through fifth, respectively, on the 14-car grid.
As the race got under way, Hancock and Smith battled door-to-door with Hancock eking out a half-length lead at the stripe. He cleared Smith on lap 2 as they motored down the back straightaway.
Smith rode in Hancock’s tire tracks until lap 4 when he grabbed the lead off Turn 2. Howard tagged along and picked up the second spot, while Hancock dropped to third. Meanwhile, Spencer Saunders, who started sixth, had advanced to fourth in the early going and joined the lead trio.
On lap 9, Saunders took a run at Hancock, but came up empty. Behind them, Queen closed in, looking to make it a five-car pack at the head of the field.
By the halfway mark, Smith had fashioned a three-length edge over Howard. Four more car-lengths separated Howard from Hancock, Saunders and Queen, who were nose-to-tail in third, fourth and fifth.
The only caution flag flew on lap 16 for Michael Gerdes’ spin in Turn 2. Lining up for the restart, Smith, Howard, Hancock, Saunders and Queen made up the top five.
Back under green, Smith grabbed a two-length advantage off Turn 2, while Hancock and Saunders moved up to challenge Howard for second. Soon, Queen became part of the mix.
On lap 16, Saunders and Queen double-teamed Hancock, moving up to third and fourth and dropping Hancock to fifth. Within a couple laps, Saunders had broken away from Queen and Hancock and was closing in on Howard.
Saunders made his move into the runner-up position on lap 22. He ducked underneath Howard in Turns 1 and 2 and pulled ahead at the end of the backstretch. The shuffle allowed Smith to extend his lead to four lengths, but Saunders was on the march.
At the finish, Saunders’ late-race surge came up a car-length short as Smith won by 0.215-second. Howard was third to the checkers, followed by Hancock, who scooted around Queen on the white-flag lap.
Adam Florian led all the way from the pole to post his first win of the season in a 25-lapper for the SavitaPets.com UCARs.
Florian paced the afternoon qualifying session, at 73.092 mph. Bill Eaker, Denver Alvis, Tim Wilson and Jason Michaud completed the top five on the 17-car starting grid.
As the green flag fell, Florian jumped into the lead, followed by Eaker, Wilson, Sammy Gaita and Michaud. Alvis failed to come up to speed and rapidly tumbled through the field.
The race was interrupted by three caution flags in the first six laps. The last incident, at lap 6, was triggered when Jesse Jones got out of shape off Turn 4 and careened into the frontstretch wall, collecting Richard Ellis. Bouncing off the barricade, Jones also clipped Derek Roberts, sending him into the outside wall just past the start/finish line. Alvis caught a major piece of the action, too. All four drivers were sidelined for the duration of the event and the red flag was displayed as extensive cleanup work commenced.
When the race resumed, Florian bolted ahead of the pack, leaving Eaker to tussle with Michael Joyner, who had restarted on the leader’s flank. Eaker cleared Joyner on the backstretch. By then, however, Florian had already gotten away by five lengths.
At the crossed flags, Florian enjoyed a half-straightaway margin over Eaker, who had distanced himself from third-place Wilson.
Florian maintained that half-straightaway advantage all the way to the checkered flag. At the finish, he was the winner by 3.391 seconds over Eaker. Wilson was third, while Joyner fought off Jon Largena to take fourth.
In the evening’s first feature event, a 20-lapper for the Xtreme Mechanical Services INEX Bandoleros, Ryleigh Lemonds rebounded from a mid-race spin and bagged her third victory in as many starts.
Madyson Mulligan started on the pole, at 64.537 mph, and paced the first 10 laps with Lemonds in tow. On lap 11, though, Lemonds went after the lead in Turns 1 and 2 and the leaders tangled and spun, bringing out the second of the race’s three caution flags.
As Mulligan and Lemonds retreated to the back of the pack, Evan Horne assumed the lead, followed by Bradley Wilson, Cameron Bowen and Lexi Perry.
Back under green, Mulligan and Lemonds swung to the high side and motored into third and fourth by the end of lap 11. The final caution flag appeared on lap 12 for Bowen’s spin in Turn 2.
On the restart, Horne quickly gained a two-length edge over Wilson as the field rolled into Turn 1. Lemonds and Mulligan were on the charge behind him, though.
Coming around to complete lap 12, Lemonds went three-wide with Mulligan and Wilson and grabbed second. She quickly ran down Horne and took the lead on backstretch on lap 13. Within two laps, she had already pulled off by nearly half a straightaway.
At the finish, Lemonds was the winner by 1.340 seconds over Mulligan. Wilson was third, followed by Horne and Bowen. Perry rounded out the field. All six starters completed the entire distance.
|< Prev||Next >|