Danny Edwards Jr. makes a lap around Langley Speedway prior to his pole-winning qualifying run for the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown (Photo: Dinah Mullins)

Over 30 Late Model teams and drivers arrived at Langley Speedway on a sunny, but cold afternoon to participate in the first Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown since the event went on hiatus after 2015. Hamlin and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch, along with Late Model veterans Philip Morris and Peyton Sellers were all predicted to claim the pole for the charity event, but it would be a different local racer who would lead the 33-car field to the green flag.

After posting the 16th fastest time in the final Late Model practice session of the day, Poquoson, Virginia native surprised many people when he clocked in a lap of 15.359, which earned him the pole for the evening’s 200-lap Late Model feature. Edwards’ long background in auto racing includes starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, ASA National Tour, and the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series, but he has also been one of the most successful Late Model drivers in the history of Langley Speedway, winning five track championships between 1989 and 2008, and is hoping to outrun some of the best Late Model drivers in the country and bring home a victory in front of his home crowd.

Starting alongside Edwards on the front row will be Denny Hamlin, who was able to revive his charity event that raises funds for children suffering from cystic fibrosis after plans to bring the race to Langley Speedway in 2016 fell through after the track briefly ceased operations. Despite being the event organizer, Hamlin has only brought home the checkered flag once in the charity race, which came at Richmond Raceway in 2012, but Hamlin was one of the fastest cars in both practice sessions at Langley, and will look to bring home a win at the track that helped build the foundation for his NASCAR career.

Lined up behind Edwards and Hamlin in 3rd will be 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, who holds the record for the most victories in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown with three. Busch teamed with Nelson Motorsports for this year’s Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown, and proceeded to post the quickest time in both Late Model practice sessions, which quickly established Busch as an early favorite to pick up his fourth victory in the prestigious charity race.

Timothy Peters, who held on to win the last Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown after Josh Berry and Lee Pulliam made contact with each other late in the race, will start 4th for the Late Model feature, while Ty Gibbs rounded out the Top 5. 2010 Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown winner CE Falk III will start sixth, with Peyton Sellers, Nick Smith, Connor Hall and Justin T. Carroll completing the Top 10.

2018 Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown Qualifying Results:

1. 26 Danny Edwards Jr.- 15.359
2. 11 Denny Hamlin- 15.400
3. 51 Kyle Busch- 15.411
4. 12p Timothy Peters- 15.413
5. 18 Ty Gibbs- 15.415
6. 02 CE Falk III- 15.436
7. 26s Peyton Sellers- 15.440
8. 12s Nick Smith- 15.464
9. 77 Connor Hall- 15.467
10. 57c Justin T. Carroll- 15.484
11. 01 Philip Morris- 15.491
12.2s Myatt Snider- 15.503
13. 8 Tyler Hughes- 15.505
14. 83 Matt Bowling- 15.510
15. 2v Ryan Vargas- 15.525
16. 03 Brenden Queen- 15.527
17. 88b Doug Barnes- 15.586
18. 6 Ruben Garcia- 15.600
19. 24d Mason Diaz- 15.629
20. 98 Nicholas Sanchez- 15.631
21. 16m Brett Moffitt- 15.642
22. 41 Woody Howard- 15.643
23. 92 Casey Wyatt- 15.652
24. 55 Mark Wertz- 15.667
25. 22 Grayson Cullather- 15.674
26. 4c Chase Cabre- 15.677
27. 57j Eddie Johnson- 15.729
28. 90 Terry Carroll- 15.786
29. 24g Colin Garrett- 15.853
30. 91 Justin S. Carroll- 15.869
31. 16j Bubba Johnston- 16.020
32. 00 Chris Johnson- 16.069
33. 94 Cody Carlton- 16.153