With the 2009-2010 Winter Series underway at Lowe's Motor Speedway, up-and-coming racer Austin Langenstein, driving his No. 7 FIREFOLD.COM Bandolero, held his own during the oval portion of the Series.
Langenstein, 15-year-old son of Charlie Langenstein and a third generation racer, competed on the oval portion of the Winter Series against 25 other racers from seven different states and Canada.
The first round of the Winter Series, scheduled for December 5th, 2009, had to be rescheduled due to rain. The Series ran instead on December 12th.
Langenstein had a fast car in the first round, scoring the outside pole with his second fastest lap in time trials. With this great starting position, Langenstein had high hopes for a good finish in the first round.
Unfortunately, a good finish was not meant to be as the young racer got hung out by another, less experienced driver on the very first lap. Canadian racer Ryan Macintosh moved up the track into Langenstein's path, hooking his left corner and sending him off the track into the hay bales.
“Macintosh made a right hand turn down the front stretch and drove into my left front tire," Langenstein said. “I almost had the car saved until I hit the mud puddle, which
sucked my car into the outside safety barrier.”
Langenstein's car was severely damaged, with a cut tire and a bent tie rod. "I knew we were done for the day," Langenstein said. “Maybe if I had stayed on the gas when Ryan hit me I might have been able to bull my way past him and keep on racing, but then I probably would have taken Macintosh out, and that’s not how I race."
Although Macintosh apologized to Langenstein after the race, the young driver failed to finish the race, scoring an uncustomary DNF.
Langenstein was determined to have better finishes in the second and third rounds of the oval course racing in the Winter Series. Weather again played a factor, however, and the second and third rounds were combined into one race with a double feature format that ran on December 19th.
Although the track was wet and the temperatures chilly, Langenstein posted the fourth fastest qualifying time. After the green flag flew, Langenstein worked his way forward and by lap five in the race had moved up to the second position.
But on lap nine, Langenstein tangled with race leader John Holloman while trying to make the pass for the lead. Holloman pinched Langenstein off, sending him sliding through the mud to bring out the caution.
Langenstein restarted in the 18th position but raced hard to finish in the third position. “The race track was a mess on the bottom and Holloman made contact with me," Langenstein said. "We were racing for position and I just ran out of time."
In the second feature of the day, serving as the third race in the Winter Series, Langenstein again had a good qualifying effort, starting in the sixth spot. Langenstein raced his way forward to finish second, right behind his nemesis Holloman.
“John Holloman has been very good and his three wins speak for themselves”, Langenstein said. "I feel like I can beat him clean, but unfortunately circumstances didn't allow me to prove that. At least not yet."
Langenstein and the other drivers competing in the Winter Series will now move on to the road course portion of the competition. This will take the drivers through January 2010 in the Winter Series competition.
“We have five more races remaining, which will take us to the end of January," Langenstein said. "And all of those races will be on the road course."
"I honestly believe we can win all of those races and put this team right back into the thick of the points mix," Langenstein said confidently. "When we get back to racing on January 9th, I'm planning to make the points battle with Holloman a true classic."
"And I can't wait."