Austin Langenstein, son of Hendrick Motorsports mechanical director and Modified Hall of Fame mechanic Charlie Langenstein, experienced the highs and lows of racing during the road course portion of the Lowe's Winter Heat Series in 2010.
In the first road course race of the season Langenstein had a rough start and ended up with a rare DNF. But the following week, Langenstein, in his No. 7 FIREFOLD.com Bandolero, beat the best of the best and ended up with the trophy in Victory Lane.
"I had a really good feeling coming to the track today," Langenstein said. "What happened last week was one of those things that happens in racing. At one time or another it happens to every racer."
Langenstein's dad and team owner affirmed the young racer's sentiments.
"The car was strong last week and I'm confident Austin would have won the feature had the sprocket held up," Charlie Langenstein said. "But that was last week and this week he came out with a win."
Langenstein started off the winter season with a good practice session. He took the green flag in fourth place on the grid for the first of the two heat races and was able to drive the car to the checkered flag while avoiding many potential opportunities to trade paint with his fellow competitors.
"The car was spot on and once I was able to put the others behind me, I just focused on maintaining a smooth rhythm on every lap to the checkered flag," Langenstein said. He urged his crew not to change a thing on the car for the next race, as he was so pleased with how the car was feeling and responding.
Langenstein, however, had his hands full in the second heat race, starting in the sixth position. After getting a good start, the young racer had to avoid a slower car in turn seven. He stood on the brakes and sent his car spinning.
Langenstein was able to keep his car running but lost several positions before he could get back on the track. He was able to make his way back up through the field, but again had to dodge several big wrecks and a great deal of competitive racing to put his car into contention to take the checkered flag.
Langenstein's patience paid off and after dodging several other on-track incidents, Langenstein was again able to claim the checkered flag.
"Winning a race like this, with all the adversity, is a great feeling," Langenstein said. "After I spun out I thought I was out of the picture."
Finishing first in both heat races put Langenstein on the pole for the feature race. "Starting on the pole on the road course is a huge advantage," Langenstein said.
Langenstein took full advantage of his pole position, opening up a significant lead after the green flag flew. But the lead was not to last, with a bad wreck in turn six bringing out a full-course red flag about half-way through the event.
After the wreck was cleared, the pace car brought the field around for a single file restart. Langenstein led the pack and never looked back, scoring his first road course victory in the Winter Heat Series and his first win in the new year.
"I knew Austin was a force to be reckoned with on the road course," Langenstein's father Charlie said. "Even though last week was a DNF, Austin was challenging for the lead when the sprocket broke and ended his day."
"This week, same car and he dominated."
"Driving the road course challenges you and it's fun," young Langenstein said. He then dedicated his win to his team, his family, his sponsors, as well as "everyone who believed in me."
"They all deserve to enjoy this," said Langenstein enthusiastically, clutching his trophy tightly in his hands.
For more information about Austin Langenstein, visit his website at www.austinlangenstein.com.