Peyton Sellers beats Langley Speedway regulars to earn $10,000 in Hampton Heat 200

HAMPTON – The notion that non-regulars can't win a Late Model race at Langley Speedway has officially moved into the "myth" category. Former Late Model national champion Peyton Sellers of Danville won the sixth annual Hampton Heat 200 on Saturday, making it the second consecutive year an outsider has won the biggest weekly race at Langley.

Langley regular Nick Smith, who won the inaugural Heat in 2008, qualified on the pole, led much of the race and appeared to be in control with 15 laps to go. But on the backstretch following a lap 186 restart, Sellers put the front bumper to Smith to move him aside, and led the final 14 laps to Victory Lane and a $10,000 first-place check.

"The good Lord put us right there at the end," said Sellers, the 2005 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champ. "I have no regrets there at the end.

"I made a late dive on Nick and he was committed and his spotter couldn't tell him. That's what it's all about, $10,000.

"This is unbelievable to see this many people at a short track race."

An estimated 6,000, the largest crowd at Langley in years, crowded in to see the largest field – 30 cars – in the six-year history of the Heat. They received some consolation in seeing Langley drivers finish in the second-through-sixth positions, as C.E. Falk bumped Smith aside for third, followed by Mark Wertz, Dude Gibbs and Brenden Queen.

Smith, who has won five races this season at Langley, captured the pole for the Heat for the second time in three seasons with a blistering 15.508-second lap (91.692 mph). It was easily the fastest qualifying lap since Smith turned a 15.292 (92.990 mph) on opening night in April, a week before the track slowed down the cars by going to a new rubber compound on the right side tires.

"I'm really pumped up about that time," Smith said. "I wasn't expecting to run a (15.508), so I'm a little shocked."

Smith was not happy with Sellers’ late-race move but said he understood it.

“That’s part of short-track racing,” Smith said. “He took the only shot he had at winning, but then he thanked God afterward. I didn’t know God was the front bumper of his race car. Guys used to get black-flagged for doing that.

“Still, I’m pretty happy with what we accomplished as a first-year team in the Heat with the support of Towne Bank and Bluewater Yacht. We sat on the pole, led halfway and definitely had the fastest car all weekend.”

Camping World Truck Series star Timothy Peters qualified second, followed by Langley's Matt Waltz, Sellers, Langley rookie Queen and defending track champion Greg Edwards.

Smith led the first 33 laps, before giving way to Peters, who won a heat race Wednesday in the Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway in Ohio – NASCAR first for a major touring series on dirt in 43 years. Peters stayed on the point until Smith passed him back for the lead on the 86th circuit.

Smith led at the 100-lap mark, when the drivers worked on their cars during the planned 15-minute break. Sellers showed strength late in the first segment, moving up to second halfway in, followed by Waltz, Peters, Ben Rhodes, Falk, Gibbs and Wertz.

The biggest surprise of the first half was the form of defending champion Matt Bowling, who was 19th at the halfway mark and would finish 20th. Greg Edwards dropped out early with transmission problems and finished 28th. Waltz, who ran in the top three the first 135 laps, dropped back with mechanical problems and finished 17th.

Smith ran on the point early in the second segment, before Sellers passed him on the 125th lap. But when Smith passed him on 162 and pulled away to a huge lead, it appeared he was on his way to a second Heat victory.

Two quick cautions later (there were 12 overall), Sellers made his move on Smith, then held off two-time Heat winner Falk on a green-white-checkered finish to further debunk the myth that Late Model outsiders can't win at Langley. He'll attempt to do so again when he returns in a year.

"We had the opportunity to go to Motor Mile," Sellers said of the Radford track that ended up canceling Saturday because of rain. "We're second in points up there and we've got a really good car up there.

"But we made the commitment to come here because the people of Hampton and the people at Langley Speedway have treated us so good in the past. This is awesome to be in Victory Lane."

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