But even the opportunity to showcase his talent in the No. 33 Chevrolet his uncle Joe Falk is purchasing from Richard Childress Racing is a long way from making it in the big time. C.E. Falk acknowledges as much.
It's a sentiment, however true, that former Langley Speedway owner Wayne Wyatt says is a huge problem in NASCAR's upper echelons. He surveys the Cup scene and spots more empty seats at three-hour races with plummeting TV ratings and competition hardly worth watching on some 1 1/2 mile tracks.
Wyatt puts a large part of the blame on the increasing reality that drivers bring a multi-million dollar sponsor with them to get a Cup ride. Instead, he said, talent-shy drivers make up more than half the fields at Cup races, while great talents at tracks such as Langley never get a sniff at a Cup race.
"Can you imagine what the NBA would be like if Michael Jordan was turned away because he didn't have the money to play?" Wyatt asked. "It would be a bunch of no-talent rich kids, which is what you see in a lot of the Cup cars.
"A guy like Denny Hamlin (a Langley regular in 1997-98, when Wyatt was track co-owner) who makes it on talent is one in a million."
But it is exactly that state of affairs, Wyatt said, that makes the $10 general admission at Langley Speedway such a great bargain.
"You're not always seeing the best talent on Sundays, so people have to realize they have a great racing itch they can scratch at their local short tracks," Wyatt said. "On Sunday (in Sprint Cup races), you're seeing boring races on cookie-cutter tracks, where the only racing worth watching is the first two laps and last two laps.
"Every Saturday night at your local short track you get to see tempers flaring, fenders flying and fans on their feet watching door-to-door action. And you get to see the best talent in the country.
"Nowadays the next Jimmie Johnson stays at your local short track because he never gets the money to race in Sprint Cup."
Auto Week columnist Al Pearce says it's been that way for decades. Pearce, who's covered Sprint Cup racing and the local scene for almost 45 years, agrees with Wyatt that numerous Langley drivers could've made their marks in the upper echelons of stock-car racing if they'd had the opportunity.
"I was talking to a former Cup winner this past weekend at Martinsville, and he said it's amazing how many got to this (Cup) level because they had money, and how many didn't make it here because they didn't have money," said Pearce, a former Daily Press and Times-Herald motorsports writer. "Elton Sawyer (Langley's other winner of three consecutive Late Model titles) devoted his entire life to making it, and he made it pretty far.
"Phil Warren, Danny Edwards Jr., Greg Edwards and Mike Buffkin all certainly had the talent to race in Cup, but they had full-time jobs. Does C.E. Falk have the ability to race in Cup if given the right opportunity? Absolutely."
But C.E. Falk will start the season at Langley Speedway on Saturday against many of those talented guys who haven't gotten even the opportunity he could get at Martinsville in the fall: Danny Edwards, Greg Edwards, Mark Wertz, Nick Smith, Woody Howard, Casey Wyatt and Shawn Balluzzo.
The spotlight might not be as bright as it is in Cup, but he knows the competition will be high caliber.
"With all of the great drivers here, Langley is like NASCAR's old IROC race of champions," Falk said. "Danny Edwards and Greg Edwards ran in the Nationwide Series and a lot of other drivers out here could've run in the Truck Series for sure.
"Langley Speedway is a hidden diamond. If you want to see a good race, be there on Saturday."
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday.
WHERE: Langley Speedway, N. Armistead Ave and Dale Lemonds Lane, across from the NASA Langley Wind Tunnel.
WHAT: Six stock car races (Late Model 100, Super Truck twin-20s, UCAR 25, Pro-Six 30, Champ Kart 20).
TICKETS: $10, $8 military and seniors, $5 ages 6-12, $25 family pack (two adults, two children).