It’s that time of year again and if you’ve been around the Late Model scene in recent years circling the Mid-Atlantic, by now you should have well heard of this championship race held each year at Langley Speedway called The Hampton Heat 200.

The race itself features a $10,000 payday to the winner who not only has to show the speed to win, but survival techniques as well. 200 grueling laps around its mere six degrees of banking measuring out to be .395 in length has the faster race teams cranking left throughout the entire lap. No time to relax, no time to get comfortable as hitting your marks are crucial to a successful lap.

Over 40 potential race teams are anticipated to participate in this year’s Hampton Heat which could knock off last year’s totals which featured thirty seven hot rods doing battle. Just what kind of drama lies in front of this year’s event, no one really knows but the racing I’ll promise will surely please.

Last year, we saw CE Falk once again back in Victory Lane winning this very event for the third time in its young seven year history. After starting 13th, Falk was able to work his way to fourth in the first half of the race when word quickly spread that due to coming down pit road to soon at the break. Race leaders Matt Waltz and Nick Smith were forced to the longest end of the line to serve their penalties. Falk would benefit by starting in the two spot on the front row. After a brief duel with Greg Edwards, Falk set sail and withstood some late race cautions to win.

Though Falk believed he caught a break, others thought it was a gift. But none the less, Falk was able to capitalize on the opportunity winning his third Hampton Heat 200.

Now that we have the low down a bit covered, let’s talk about the race and just what you have to do win like last year when thirty seven cars were on the track.

One of the things you’ll hear from the drivers harp on is tire management. Everyone is concerned about that right rear and just how the wear will be and not burning the tire up to soon. But if you ever been to a Hampton Heat race, not for one second am I ever buying into the tire management scenario ever again and here’s why. From the drop of the green flag, the rush to get into single file is huge. Everyone wants to quickly get in line to achieve the faster lap speeds and get away from any side by side battles that can hurt the car. Then it’s not long before the leaders will catch the tail end of the field and begin to put the field down a lap.

Lapping cars in this race is not easily accomplished without contact, this is the survival talk that you might have heard about and what the drivers make such a big deal of. It’s all about staying clean before the halfway. With just a fifteen minute intermission, it’s critical to use the time making race winning adjustments and not repairing damage. Back to racing, it’s all about that nose down tail up, lefter faster deal.

Hopefully the cautions fall right and you make all the right decisions going through traffic. Worrying about tire wear, worrying about fall off, I suggest worrying about getting caught up in somebody else’s mess. To me this race is all about survival and getting to run on a clean track for a clean lap. It will produce the best results; it will give you the best chance to win. That’s my opinion.

Alright, now the fun part, predicting the winner of this year’s Hampton Heat 200. The chances that I impress you with my pick are slim but what fun is it to be right all the time anyways. So I’m more then prepared for those who will think I’m crazy and hopefully you’ll appreciate the entertainment value in it. CE Falk returns again this year to defend his Hampton Heat title and has been nothing but money at Langley Speedway. In this event alone, Falk is a three time winner, in all seven events Falk has never finished outside of the top five. The total laps of this race since its beginnings are 1414 of which CE Falk has lead 665. Putting money down on Falk makes for a great choice but can he do it again this year?

Matt Bowling also returns and is the 2012 winner of the Hampton Heat 200. Nick Smith is the inaugural 2008 winner of the event and has his Late Model ready for battle. Early word on the street has Smith cranking some very fast laps and makes a good pick to consider.

Hearing now that Tommy Lemons Jr has a car built for this race and though the last time Lemons raced at Langley, he was in a wreck that destroyed his car. On that day, Lemons started on the pole in just his first ever appearance at Langley Speedway.

Though really we won’t know for sure till Saturday morning who else may show up to race, those are just some of the so called out of town drivers that will be competing. For the Langley regulars, Danny Edwards Jr is hot, winning the last three straight and has certainly peaked at the right time going into this event. Brother Greg Edwards has been struggling as of late but has maintained the series points lead in the Late Model division.

Great news for that race team is that they’re primary car is repaired from an earlier wreck and word has it that the car is full of speed. Brenden Queen, Tyler Hughes and Mark Wertz all stand determined to make their mark in this event. There could be a winner in that bunch I’ll promise you that. Of course, I almost forgot about Matt Waltz. Not really, hard to forget the guy who won 12 races last season at Langley Speedway. Matt Waltz is in a part time role competing at the track this year with one victory in his name. After last year’s misfortunes, you can bet Waltz has had the Hampton Heat 200 circled on his calendar for some time.

Truthfully, I hate to go on the line and pick the winner of this race. If the Langley regulars had an advantage I wouldn’t be so hesitate to make my pick. But Langley Speedway has proven to be grounds for success for anyone who’s determined and relentless in their efforts to win.

So here goes, I like them all and everyone I made mention can win this great race. As I mentioned earlier, survival in this race is the key. There are certainly other race teams to consider and I wish I could mentioned them all but I’m going with Danny Edwards Jr to win this year’s Hampton Heat 200. The five time Langley Speedway Late Model champion has the momentum and a revived confidence going into this race. Backing that up as winner of the last three straight, I’m going with the present instead of banking on the past but what if were all wrong. What if the future of this event presents us with a new winner? Let us know friends and fans, who you got to win this year’s Hampton Heat 200???