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Philip Morris Dominates for First Hampton Heat 200 Victory

Andy Marquis/

Philip Morris led wire-to-wire in Sunday’s Hampton Heat 200 at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway to pick up the victory, his first in the summer highlight.

His win came one year after being involved in an accident in last year’s Hampton Heat 200 – the kind of bad luck that carried through to Martinsville and Southern National in the fall months.  Morris has been focused on winning races but has put extra emphasis on winning in Late Model Stock Car racing’s majors as well.

“Nobody has worked harder than us,” Morris said.  “We really want it.  We really worked hard for it.  My engine builder is full bore on this thing.  I’m in the gym every day running six miles on the elliptical.  I’m trying not to let down anywhere.  I don’t want to let these guys down and they don’t want to let me down.  That’s what it’s going to take is everybody doing their job.  We get to Martinsville and I think it will show.”

With a win in the Hampton Heat 200 behind him, and the growing inevitability that he will win a record-tying fifth NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship this season, Morris is already looking ahead to the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway on September 29th.  Many of the competitors he will race against at Martinsville were in the field on Sunday – with one glaring exception.  That exception is Lee Pulliam, who Morris has a lot of respect for.

“I wouldn’t want to have it any other way,” Morris commented.  “That guy’s a class act.  I know he’s the same way.  We both want to be on the track when you win a race.  That guy relies on his faith just like me.  It’s going to come down to the Lord and if we’re out front, it will be two guys racing pretty hard for a win and it wouldn’t be any better unless it was him.”

Peyton Sellers, who won the Hampton Heat 200 in 2013, ended up prevailing in an intense battle for second which lasted throughout much of the race.

“With 10 to go, I was like, do I want a caution or not,” Sellers stated.  “End of the day, I believe I was okay with second because Bobby McCarty was mighty strong behind us.  Thomas Scott was strong too.  I was content riding home in second there.  I knew I had a car that could ride with Philip if you put me up next to him, but he got such a big lead.  Once I got clear of those guys, I had to just set my pace and run it and we did.  We were consistent the last 30 laps of the race and Philip was too.”

Like Morris, Sellers also has his sights set on Late Model Stock Car racing’s crowned jewel event at Martinsville Speedway.

“Martinsville is our main focus right now,” Sellers explained.  “We’re points racing next week at South Boston with Philip Morris, the 2018 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion, so we have to be on our game for sure.  Man, it’s good right now.  We got the points lead last week at South Boston.  Got a second here, qualified second.  A lot of momentum going into Martinsville so we’ve got to put our car on jack stands, go over every nut and bolt and get it ready for the big show.”

Both Morris and Sellers are now tied in the Virginia Triple Crown championship which will be decided at Martinsville Speedway in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300.  Sellers won at South Boston in the first leg of the Triple Crown back in July over Morris.

CARS Response Energy Late Model Stock Tour championship points leader Bobby McCarty finished third.  After the race, McCarty was mildly upset with the result, thinking he had a car that could have won the Hampton Heat 200 for the second consecutive season.

“Nobody showed patience,” McCarty said.  “I was the ball and everybody else was the bat.  That’s fine.  I like winning races the right way.  I don’t want to wreck somebody to win a race because to me, it doesn’t mean anything.  We salvaged a third-place finish.  I’m definitely not happy with it, not by a long shot.  Considering that I was the ball and everybody else was the bat, we’ll take it and go home.”

Thomas Scott raced his way up from an 11th place starting position to finish fourth while five-time Langley Speedway track champion and current points leader Danny Edwards, Jr. rounded out the top-five.

“To come from 11th, where I started, I think I fell back to 12th for a while and drove back up to the top-five there that first half,” Scott said of his surprising fourth-place effort.  “It felt really good.  I had just such an awesome car … This is unbelievable.  The year that I’m having, being third in state points and racing for a title at South Boston in the top-three.  It’s been a dream come true.”

Much of the on-track action, and extracurricular activities, took place during the middle stages of the event.  First, an incident on the backstretch on lap 113 collected Cameron Bowen, Tyler Huges, and Colin Garrett.  After the caution came out, Bowen drove overtop Hughes’ car and Hughes then retaliated moments later. Both drivers were parked by Langley Speedway officials for their actions.  When they got out of their cars, both Hughes and Bowen shouted pleasantries at each other.

The second notable incident happened on lap 130 and involved Mark Wertz, Connor Hall, Casey Wyatt and Woody Howard.  When the cars got together, Wyatt ended up getting some hang time before his car came to a rest on the backstretch.  When the race restarted on lap 138, it went green to the finish.

Hampton Heat 200 Results:

  1. Philip Morris
  2. Peyton Sellers
  3. Bobby McCarty
  4. Thomas Scott
  5. Danny Edwards, Jr.
  6. Austin Thaxton
  7. Timmy Phipps
  8. E. Falk, III
  9. Brenden Queen
  10. Justin S. Carroll
  11. Nick Smith
  12. Terry Carroll
  13. Grayson Cullather
  14. Brandon Pierce
  15. Matt Bowling
  16. Justin T. Carroll
  17. Craig Eastep
  18. Maddy Ryan Mulligan
  19. Chris Johnson
  20. Mark Wertz
  21. Woody Howard
  22. Casey Wyatt
  23. Connor Hall
  24. Colin Garrett
  25. Tyler Hughes
  26. Cameron Bowen
  27. Garrett Bunch
  28. Rodney Boyd
  29. Thomas Marks
  30. Duane Shreeves
  31. Greg Edwards

Marquis comes from St. Charles, Maryland and has a widespread background in journalism, having covered politics in Washington and Maryland as well as nearly every form of auto racing, including NASCAR, IndyCar, AMA Motocross and IHRA Drag Racing. Now living near Emerald Isle, North Carolina, Marquis covers Late Model Stock Cars and Super Late Models in the Carolinas and Virginia.

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