During a media event Friday afternoon for drivers competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Langley Speedway, Sergio Pena talked about his plans to attend Radford University next fall. A recent graduate of James Wood High in Winchester, Pena, 18, said he wasn't exactly sure of his racing future.
"You have to try out for my team every year," he said of Revolution Racing, the team that spearheads NASCAR's Drive for Diversity, a program designed to give minorities more opportunities in the upper-echelons of stock-car racing.
With a K&N win already under his belt this season at South Boston, Pena was asked if he might be asked to rejoin the team automatically if he won a second race.
"I'm not sure," he answered.
He'll get to find out now. Pena became only the second series driver to win more than once this season, when he finished first on Saturday in the VisitHampton 175. Pena led the final 59 laps after making a spectacular pass of Max Gresham for the lead going into Turn 4 on lap 117.
Pena used two lapped cars as picks to dive inside of Gresham, then consolidated his lead on the front straightaway. He used terrific restarts following four ensuing cautions to hold onto his lead.
Pena finished four car-lengths in front of Brett Moffitt, who rallied to finish second after falling two laps down with an early flat tire. Gresham and X Team teammate Matt DiBenedetto followed in third and fourth, with 15-year-old Chase Elliott — son of NASCAR legend Bill Elliott — rounding out the top five.
"It's unreal (getting) my second win in Virginia, my hometown," said Pena, a Toyota driver whose father is from Columbia. "Well, not really my hometown, but close enough.
"I feel honored to win at the second-longest (consecutively running) NASCAR-sanctioned track."
Pena's victory might very much have been helped by a mistake Moffitt, the series' other two-time winner this season, made on the second lap. After posting the fastest times in both practices, then qualifying eighth, Moffitt drove too aggressively attempting to pass Ryan Gifford for sixth.
Moffitt made contact with Gifford, a bump that resulted in flat left-front tire for Moffitt. Moffitt had to pit under green, lost two laps and dropped to the back of the 26-car field.
Moffitt would use two Lucky Dogs and a very fast Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota to surge back through the field to second. But he was unlucky that the race stayed green the final 27 laps, so he could not get closer than four car-lengths to Pena.
"I was praying for a caution," Moffitt said. "My stuff was worn out, but I was praying for a chance to get to him.
"We'll take second after all of that."
The event featured close racing throughout until Pena's late surge. Coleman Pressley, 22-year-old son of former Sprint Cup Series driver Robert Pressley, qualified on the pole and led all but one of the first 43 laps.
Pena then led for the first time, for 36 laps, before giving way to Gresham. Gresham held the lead until Pena's nifty pass that brought the large crowd on hand to its feet.
The race proved more difficult for some local favorites. Brandon Gdovic, the 2010 Langley Late Model Rookie of the Year, spun early and would finish 24th.
Brandon's father, Rick Gdovic, was involved in a lap 129 wreck and finished 21st. Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell spun on lap 94 and was 22nd.
Mike Rudy passed defending champion Shawn Balluzzo on the 16th lap of the first of twin Modified 25-lappers and held on for the victory. Rudy's win broke a four-race win streak by Cameron Patrick, who finished fifth.
Mark Claar started third, but took advantage of a collision between the top two starters, Ricky Derrick and Rodney Boyd, on the third lap of the Grand Stock 40. Claar led the rest of the way to win for the second time this season.Copyright © 2015, CT Now