Brandon Gdovic drove a Limited Late Model to victory at South Boston in his teens. This year, to far more national acclaim, he won at Greenville Pickens Speedway in South Carolina in the K&N Pro Series East, the top feeder to NASCAR's upper echelons.
Langley Speedway? No wins. Not en route to Rookie of the Year honors in the Late Model Division at the track in 2010 or in either of his trips here the past two years in a K&N car.
"It's kind of funny," he said of the streak, which, in fact, probably entails only about 20 races total. "I really need to get back here in a Late Model and try to get a win.
"I'd like to win here Saturday, because it's a hard place to get around and it has a lot of history. It would be a prestigious thing to say you won here."
Gdovic, 21, a Yorktown native, gets his chance on Saturday to rewrite history, when he runs his Toyota Camry in the K&N Pro Series East Visit Hampton VA 175 at Langley. The flag on the 175-lap, 70-mile race drops at about 8:30 p.m., sandwiched between four of the track's divisional races.
Gdovic's history at Langley is pretty good. With a veteran group of short-track heavy hitters including C.E. Falk, Greg Edwards, Woody Howard, Danny Edwards Jr. and Mark Wertz in the Late Model Division in 2010, drivers and fans felt Gdovic acquitted himself well on his way to seventh place in the division.
When he returned the next summer as a rookie in K&N Pro East, he started nicely and was running in the top 10 when he was spun out. He hit above his average in his second K&N race here, in 2012, finishing fourth during a season he ended up ninth in the standings.
Gdovic appears poised for his best shot ever at a Langley win. An engine failure in the series' most recent race in Iowa aside, he's run very well of late and comes into the race in fourth place in the standings. His string of strong runs began with the win at Greenville Pickens, followed by a 10th at Pensacola, a second in Richmond and a third at Bowman Gray.
"It's been a combination of things," said Rick Gdovic, Brandon's dad, car owner and a former K&N driver. "The cars have gotten better and he's getting better coaching and seems to be taking to it as he gets more experience.
"We've added a new crew chief and new engineers and improved the team."
Another sign Gdovic could be ready for a strong showing on Saturday was his good practice run on Friday. During a rain delay, Gdovic said he was in the top five fastest, evidence that the new asphalt won't challenge his mastery of the 4/10-of-a-mile oval.
"We had a pretty good test here a couple of weeks ago," he said, adding that his team has a good motor for this race. "Before, if you were down on power (at Langley) that was probably a good thing, but with the extra grip here you're going to be able to run wide open and you'll need the power."
Gdovic says he doesn't feel any more pressure to win at Langley than elsewhere, though he admits he will probably feel more disappointment than usual should he not win. If he does win, though, the celebration is apt to be lively.
"We're definitely going to have a lot of people in the pits and at the track who are counting on us," Rick Gdovic said. "We want to bring the trophy home locally.
"We'd also like to prove that Langley is a great experience for drivers on the lower levels, and a great training ground for young drivers like Brandon on their way to the upper levels."
K&N at Langley
WHAT: 175-lap (70 mile) K&N Pro Series East stock-car race.
WHERE: Langley Speedway, N. Armistead Ave and Dale Lemonds Lane in Hampton.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday (green flag for K&N race about 8:30 p.m.).
TV: SPEED Channel (delayed broadcast at 3 p.m. June 27).
AUDIO: Live at nascarhometracks.com.
NOTEWORTHY: Four Langley divisional races are also scheduled: Winged Champ Kart 20, Pro Six 30, Grand Stock 40 and Modified 50.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun