Brenden Queen can not help but smile whenever he thinks about the 2020 Hampton Heat.
After Corey Heim and Connor Hall were knocked out in a late accident, Queen held off a strong charge from Brandon Pierce on the final restart to score his first victory in Langley Speedway’s most prestigious race.
The circumstances for the 2021 edition of the Hampton Heat are much different for Queen, as he will look to defend his title against what is expected to be one of the strongest fields in the history of the race.
“We are trying to keep a positive attitude and look forward to being back on our home turf,” Queen said. “[Even] with the tire shortage, at least we are back to a track that we run every week and know what we need in the car.”
Queen is coming off his first real test against Late Model Stock competition outside of his home track in the Thunder Road Harley-Davidson 200 at South Boston Speedway, which attracted a stellar 37-car field.
Although Queen had plenty of optimism entering the race, he struggled to make his way towards the front and had to settle for a disappointing 19th place finish.
The 200-lap feature also gave Queen a good opportunity to evaluate some of his competition for the Hampton Heat. Among the drivers that have filed early entries include five-time South Boston champion Peyton Sellers and the driver who won this year’s Thunder Road Harley-Davidson 200 in Bobby McCarty.
Queen also believes that rookie Kaden Honeycutt will be a driver to monitor after his perfect race at Langley in June.
“How can you not think about Honeycutt with Justin Johnson’s team,” Queen said. “He’s been fast everywhere. He came to Langley and dominated the CARS [Tour] race.”
Apart from the outsiders, Queen fully expects Greg and Danny Edwards to be favorites for the Hampton Heat along with Hall as he tries to avenge his near miss from 2020.
Despite the stiff competition, Queen said that he is more than confident in his ability to perform at Langley with three victories at the track so far this year, as he did not visit victory lane in a points race once during his championship season in 2020.
Queen knows that the Hampton Heat will be much different than any weekly event at Langley in that it will be an endurance test of both physical and mental stamina.
“Hydration is big,” Queen said. “We just have to be smart and keep our head in the game all night long. We need to survive by keeping the fenders on [the car] and manage the tires all night to have a shot like last year.”
The 2021 Hampton Heat will be a challenging race for Queen but he firmly believes that his car will be fast enough to create another positive memory on Saturday evening.