Newbie News is a series that introduces the next generation of up-and-coming racers in NASCAR. This edition will provide some updates on two of the most promising "newbies," Austin Langenstein and Chase Elliott.
Langenstein, whose father Charlie has been recently honored as the Northeast Modified Hall of Fame Mechanic of the Year and who currently works in the No. 48 and No. 24 shop of Hendrick Motorsports, has been forging his own path in racing over the summer at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Langenstein competed most recently in the Ninth Annual Spooktacular, a 100-lap race on the 1/5 mile oval at Lowe's. The field had over 85 cars, with drivers and teams from seven different states as well as Canada.
Langenstein had a solid practice session, turning in a fourth fastest time. He then raced in the first 50 lap segment, starting in eighth, falling back to 11th and then charging back up to fourth place.
"A lot of those guys tried to win the race on the first lap," Langenstein said. "I just kept my composure and took care of business. My plan was to save my car and be sure that we had something for the finish."
Langenstein's plan worked well. On the second 50-lap segment, he moved into third and then second, settling in behind Legends graduate Dillon Bassett.
Try as he might, Langenstein was unable to pass Bassett so took the checkered flag in second. "I could close the gap in the corners, but in the front and back stretches, he just ran away from me," Langenstein said of the race winner.
The race ending was not without controversy. Several competitors protested the finish, saying that Bassett had gone a lap down and had been black flagged for contact with another racer.
But when all was said and done, the race results stood and Langenstein took home the second place honors. Langenstein's father counseled his son, "You have to trust the officials to get it right. Besides we wouldn't want our team to win a race that way."
While Langenstein was pleased with his finish, he was most happy that his grandfather got to see it and enjoy the race. "This was the first time he had seen me race because lately he's been a little under the weather," Langenstein said.
"The support we get is amazing," Langenstein continued. "We counted well over 60 people, friends, relatives and sponsors attending this one raace just to support me and my team."
"It makes me want to do my best, to be the best, and that's what it's all about."
While Langenstein was running the Spooktacular, Chase Elliott, son of famed Awesome Bill from Dawsonville, was making his World Crown Debut. In his No. 9 Ford, Elliott participated in the annual World Crown 300 at the new Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, GA.
Thirteen-year-old Elliott was the youngest driver in the 38-car field for the race. Elliott showed his skill, starting the race from the pole and running up front for much of the competition.
Unfortunately, Elliott felt a tire vibration and had to make several pit stops. This took the young driver off the lead lap and he finished in the 13th position.
"Our race strategy was great and we were right up front with 50 to go, exactly as planned when I felt the vibration," Elliott said. "I knew I had to bring the car in. It just wasn't worth taking a chance of wrecking."
"I am disappointed," Elliott continued. "I think I had something for them and would have liked nothing better than to show them that here at home. But it just wasn't my day."
Elliott's father Bill spotted for his protege. "I was proud of how Chase ran with mainly veteran competition," the elder Elliott said. ""He really showcased our team's ability and equipment all weekend."
Both "newbies" will continued their racing in the upcoming weeks. Langenstein is headed off to Rockingham Speedway for a two day road course event. This will be his first time racing at "The Rock."
Elliott will next compete in the legendary Snowball Derby in early December at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. Elliott, who will turn 14 years old on Nov. 28, will be his first attempt to qualify for this prestigious Late Model race.
Stay tuned for future updates on both Langenstein and Elliott, as well as introductions to other "newbies" making their way up in NASCAR.