Story by: Mason Dunn/ Contributor

Hampton, VA(July 16, 2009) — Twenty-seven cars made the trip out to Langley Speedway for the second Hampton Heat 200 event on Saturday and when it came to race time a heat wave came over the Hampton, VA bull ring.

Nick Smith, who won the 2008 version of this event in the James Long owned 21 Chevy, returned to Langley with his Dave Atkinson owned 88 Chevy and began his campaign to defend by winning the pole with a lap time of 16.345 at an average speed of 86.994 MPH.. The rest of the top five from qualifying were CE Falk, Paul DeBolt, Danny Edwards and Woody Howard. Track newcomer and Late Model veteran Stacy Puryear qualified his Sears owned Ford in seventh with a time of 16.486, only just over a tenth off the pole time.

Smith took the early advantage on the start over front row partner CE Falk as the top five got single-file and began to tick laps off the counter. The event was interrupted by problems for the 44 Toyota of Robbie Babb twice on laps 5 and 13 as he spun first off of Turn 2 and then off of Turn 4.

Back under green on lap 16 Smith reopened a two-length margin over CE Falk, while Woody Howard started to hound DeBolt for the third spot on the track which he would take on lap 18. Falk would make a bid for the lead on lap 22 ducking underneath of Smith off Turn 4 and taking the lead cleanly in Turns 3 and 4 on the following lap. This brief battle allowed Howard to close in on Smith’s bumper making it a three-car battle for the lead.

The caution flag would be displayed for a third time as Wes Falk would go for a spin in Turn 1 and make contact with the outside wall. This caution would breath another caution as on the ensuing restart Stacy Puryear, who was running eighth at the time, lost his engine while going through Turns 1 and 2 in a big pile of smoke.

On the following restart the top three of Falk, Smith and Howard made a break from the rest of the field as Danny Edwards would launch a bid for the fourth spot on the track. On lap 58 Edwards made the pass and stranded DeBolt on the outside stumbling him from fourth all the way back to 16th spot on the track. Meanwhile, Mark Wertz was on the move as he had climbed from his 11th place starting position up to the rear bumper of Edwards and making the pass for fourth over Edwards on lap 61.

Nearing the halfway break the leaders were encountering lap traffic which Falk continued to navigate effectively maintaining a four car length advantage over second place Smith. The caution flag waved on lap 101 signifying the 15-minute break for adjustments. At the mid-point the top five consisted of Falk, Smith, Howard, Wertz and D. Edwards.

The field would undergo a double-file restart to begin the second half of the race. Falk shot out to retain the lead on the restart and Howard rushed to follow his tracks underneath of second place Smith. Smith and Howard would battle for three laps before Howard would win the battle and take over second on the track before turning his attention to chasing down Falk.

Rick Gdovic and Bobby Spivey would tangle in Turn 4 prompting the yellow flag to appear for the sixth time in the event on lap 111. Twelve laps later Jeff Shiflett and Mitch Sarvis would lock horns in Turn 3 prompting the seventh yellow flag of the event.

On the restart, Falk, Howard and Smith continued their trend of bolting from the pack but on the backstretch it would be only Falk and Howard opened up a few car length gap as Smith was distracted with a mirror-full of fourth place Danny Edwards.

On lap 134, Edwards would poke his nose underneath Smith in a challenge for the spot and the two made contact in Turn 1 sliding them both up the track and opening the hole for Wertz who used the chance to move up into third. The incident wasn’t over as Smith would loop his machine and collect Greg Edwards. Due to damage from the incident Smith was unable to continue as the motor began to overheat.’

Four laps later the final caution of the event would be displayed as DeBolt and Gdovic made contact in Turn 1 sending Gdovic for a spin. During the final restart Falk shot to an immediate two-length advantage, but as soon as he opened it Howard closed it.

Wertz lost his spot in third as he had to make evasive actions to avoid the slowing machine of Paul DeBolt who was trying to make his way down pit road. The front of the field stayed pretty much single-file until lap 183 when Howard would launch his best challenge agains Falk for the lead as he drove under Falk on the exit of Turn 2 and took the position away on the exit of Turn 4.

Falk would not go away quietly as he drove back underneath Howard on lap 185 and would stay there for about five laps before Edwards caught the pair and made a three-wide look on the front stretch before being forced back in line by an approaching lapped car.

Edwards continued to hound Falk for the runner up position for the closing laps as Howard used the lap traffic to open up some breathing room between him and the battle for second.

Howard brought home the win by 1.001 seconds over Falk, with Edwards finishing third, while Wertz came home in the fourth spot. Eddie Johnson was the hard charger of the night as he overcame his 19th starting spot to bring his 57 Chevy home in the fifth position, beating Greg Edwards by half a car-length at the stripe.

The win was a much needed lift of spirit for Howard whom had been facing struggles of late. When talking of the efforts by him and his team Howard said, “We’ve been working hard and it ain’t showed. And, we finally had to put a clip on the car ’cause we got in that wreck (on June 20) and, I mean, I guess that was the problem the whole time, I don’t know. But, it definitely drove a whole lot better tonight than it ever has. It doesn’t even feel like the same car. James Long has real good cars, so I’m just happy I could finally get him back in Victory Lane.”

Meanwhile Falk was dejected about the loss but knew exactly what went wrong, “The right-front gave up. I went too hard, a little too quick, right there with 30 to go and I just burned it up. It’s my fault.”

The silver lining for Falk is the fact that although he didn’t get the much desired win, he did put another two points on his lead over second place Danny Edwards bringing his lead up to a 26-point advantage, 432-406.

1. (21) Woody Howard; 200
2. (40) CE Falk; 200
3. (26) Danny Edwards; 200
4. (55) Mark Wertz; 200
5. (57) Eddie Johnson; 200
6. (27) Greg Edwards; 200
7. (06) Dean Shiflett; 200
8. (05) Doug Godsey; 200
9. (90) Terry Carroll; 200
10. (61) KC Cunningham; 200
11. (4) Matt Waltz; 200
12. (1) Kyle Waltz(R); 199
13. (17) John Staton; 199
14. (02) Jordan Wood(R); 197
15. (01) Jeff Shiflett; 197
16. (97) Matt Midgett; 197
17. (80) Mitch Sarvis; 196
18. (64) Rick Gdovic; 192
19. (41) Wes Falk; 167
20. (34) Paul DeBolt; 154
21. (88) Nick Smith; 134
22. (47) Bobby Spivey; 123
23. (96) Bruce Livingston; 102
24. (10) Casey Wyatt; 101
25. (48) Shawn Balluzzo; 71
26. (84) Stacy Puryear; 42
27.. (44) Robbie Babb; 9

Top 12 in Points:
1. CE Falk, 432
2. Danny Edwards, 406, (-26)
3. Greg Edwards, 368, (-64)
4. Mark Wertz, 364, (-68)
5. Wes Falk, 316, (-116)
6. Jeff Shiflett, 310, (-132)
7. Woody Howard, 302, (-130)
8. Shawn Balluzzo, 282, (-150)
9. Dean Shiflett, 270, (-162)
10. Kyle Waltz(R), 258, (-174)
11. Terry Carroll, 246, (-186)
12. Matt Waltz, 242, (-190)
Wins: CE Falk(5), Danny Edwards(2), Greg Edwards(1), Woody Howard(1)