Denny Hamlin Showdown, more Late Model races highlight Langley Speedway 2018 scheduleDaily Press (Newport News, Va.) — Marty O'Brien Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
Nov. 14--When asked to describe the 2018 schedule at Larry King Law's Langley Speedway, track assistant manager Curtis Hughes does it best when he says, "There will be more, more of everything."
That begins on March 10 with the first of two Day of Destruction events. The track has never featured more than one in a season, but because the stands fill annually to watch the dozen competitions designed to encourage wrecks, it will close the season with a second on Oct. 20.
In between, Langley fans will be offered more Late Model Division racing than in many years. Langley has scheduled 27 Late Model points races, beginning with Opening Night on March 31.
Two additional Late Model races will highlight the track schedule: the highly anticipated Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown on April 19 and the 10th annual Hampton Heat 200.
The Hampton Heat, scheduled for July 21, annually draws in excess of 7,000 fans. The Hamlin charity race is expected to attract even more because Hamlin, annual participant Kyle Busch and a host of other Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series stars are expected to compete against the best local and regional Late Model drivers.
Otherwise, the expansion of the schedule for Langley's popular Late Model Division should provide a weekly attendance boost. This past season, just 21 Late Model races were scheduled and only 16 were run because of rain.
Crowds are significantly larger when Late Models are on the Saturday night race cards, particularly when regional heavyweights travel to compete against a Langley Late Model group considered one of the nation's best. Track owner Bill Mullis thinks the schedule structure should provide visiting drivers incentive to visit -- not only to prepare for the Hampton Heat.
"By beefing up the Late Model schedule with 75-lap twin races on 13 dates, out-of-town drivers will come more often," Mullis said. "If we were having just one race, the prospect of driving multiple hours, then getting a flat tire can make them hesitate.
"But with two swings at it per night, they know if something happens they can fix the car and get a second chance."
Mullis said the effort by NASCAR weekly track owners to standardize engines and other parts should also help. He said that varying individual track rules meant that 14 different engines were allowed at weekly tracks this year.
"Five of those have been phased out and within two or three years all but three will be phased out," Mullis said. "What that means is that drivers can afford to travel now because they can run the same engine.
"Shocks, weights, carburetor packages and plates, and bump stops will all be standardized."
Other highlights include the K&N Pro Series East visit on April 28. In recent years, the series stop at Langley has featured NASCAR rising stars Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Darrell Wallace Jr., Daniel Suarez and William Byron.
Track officials also expect big crowds for the annual NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour visit on June 23 and the next week, June 30, when the touring Virginia Sprint Series highlights the yearly fireworks show ahead of the Fourth of July.
Langley being Langley, there's plenty more. In addition to Late Models, the track features 10 other weekly divisions: Modified, Grand Stock, Super Street, Super Truck, Pro Six, UCAR, Legends, Bandolero, Winged Champ Kart and Enduro.
Championships in the 11 divisions will be decided on Oct. 6 and Oct. 13, with the championship-deciding Late Model 100 highlighting the second week.
"I'm really looking forward to a great 2018 season, because there are so many big events, a bigger Late Model schedule and our other really exciting weekly race cards," Mullis said. "I think it's a phenomenal schedule."
O'Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963 and on Twitter @MartyOBrienDP
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