CE Falk technically didn’t lead a single lap but he won the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 on Saturday night at Martinsville Speedway.
For the entirety of the regularly scheduled 200-lap main event, the annual Late Model Stock Car spectacular was a competitive but otherwise procedural affair. Then came overtime and everyone remembering that a $25,000 check and a Ridgeway grandfather clock was on the line.
First, Josh Berry spun off the nose of Peyton Seller on the front row to burn the first of three attempts at NASCAR overtime. Then Layne Riggs took Sellers and Bubba Pollard three-wide, crashing them both and forcing NASCAR to disqualify him for aggressive driving.
On the final attempt, several drivers crashed well behind the front row of CE Falk and Corey Heim, leaving NASCAR to determine a winner based on the rule book.
That meant that whoever crossed the start-finish line to take the final green flag was declared the winner. That was Falk.
“We all come here wanting to win it, but we know winning here is like winning the freaking lottery, and we did,” Falk said. “We were up front all night long, and we did it. It takes a lot of hard work, and lots of really caring people, and we all want that thing really, really bad.
“You only get one shot at that thing. Jimmie Johnson gets two shots at it every year, so maybe it’s a little toned down for the Cup race. But for us Late Model guys, this it, this is the Daytona 500.”
The controversy was that Falk hadn’t led a single lap and that Heim was actually the leader at the time the yellow came out — but that’s not the listed way to determine the leader based on the event’s rule book.
It was especially frustrating for Heim who now has been the leader at the end of the race three times without getting the check and trophy. He swept both ends of an August doubleheader at South Boston Speedway but was disqualified for rear skew.
“Congratulations to C.E.,” Heim said. “They wanted it just as much as I did, if not more. Somehow, I’ve now won three Late Model Stock races but not actually winning them. That’s hard to accept. We won this race.
“I don’t know how many times I have to keep crossing the line first before we get a trophy for it.”
Race director Lynn Carroll met with the media after the race to explain how he decided Falk the winner over Heim — a process that took 15 minutes after the final crash to deem official.
“When a caution comes out, that lap that they crossed the line for the restart was the lap of record for those cars,” Carroll said. “So, we scored those cars the way they came across that green flag lap, minus the cars involved in the caution. Any caution we have, the restart is based on the last completed lap, minus the cars involved in the caution.”
Those 15 minutes lasted a lifetime for Falk.
“They were terrible, man,” Falk said. “One, I thought they would take it away from me. I knew the rules and I knew I had to beat him to the line and we did.
“And then, some truck ran into me on the backstretch, and I’m like, ‘what the heck?’ But really, the way my career has gone, I pretty much counted on getting screwed. I just told my guys on the radio, if it didn’t go our way it was okay, the car rolls back on the trailer, thank God.”
In traditional Martinsville fashion, there were a lot of angry drivers.
Berry was upset with Sellers.
“There are a lot of talented race cars drivers here tonight like myself, Bubba Pollard and CE Falk that should be racing on Sundays like Preece and Hemric are going to get to do,” Berry said. “Peyton Sellers
is not one of those drivers.”
Pollard marched to Riggs’ pit stall with the entire state of Virginia behind him, saying ‘I just want to talk to the kid, because he needs to learn right from wrong’ but was kept from having the conversation.
“And right here is why I don’t race Late Model Stocks,” he said.
“I’m just trying to win the race,” Riggs said afterwards. “Peyton Sellers can go in there and wreck Josh Berry with no penalties to him and I get black flagged and people trying to fight me.”
And most everyone was mad at Carroll for a variety of rule changes during the course of the weekend.
Sellers finished fifth, enough to complete the Triple Crown championship between the South Boston 200 and the Hampton Heat.
Finishing behind Falk and Heim was Brandon Pierce, Trevor Ward and Sellers. Completing the top-10 were Justin Carroll, Ty Gibbs, Kres VanDyke, RD Smith and Kevin Neal.
The complete results can be found below.
1 02 C.E. Falk, III
2 78 Corey Heim
3 42 Brandon Pierce
4 97 Trevor Ward
5 26 Peyton Sellers
6 57 Justin Carroll
7 18 Ty Gibbs
8 15 Kres VanDyke
9 16 R.D. Smith
10 07 Kevin Neal
11 41 Woody Howard
12 01 Philip Morris
13 8 Thomas Scott
14 6 Lee Pulliam
15 77 Blake Stallings
16 54 Jeremy Burns
17 2 Trevor Noles
18 61 Justin Hicks
19 88 Josh Berry
20 17 Stacy Puryear
21 25 Derrick Lancaster
22 73 Bruce Anderson
23 12 Austin Thaxton
24 82 Timothy Peters
25 99 Layne Riggs
26 86 Bubba Pollard
27 0 Matt Leicht
28 11 Jeff Oakley
29 87 Mike Looney
30 23 Myatt Snider
31 5 Dexter Canipe, Jr.
32 08 Tyler Hughes
33 14 Ryan Repko
34 75 Ryan Millington
35 84 Colin Garrett
36 04 Jonathan Findley
37 31 Mike Darne
38 27 Tommy Lemons, Jr.
39 22 Bobby McCarty
40 71 Kyle Benjamin
41 20 Grayson Cullather
42 24 Mason Diaz