Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rain can't dampen Langlois' spirits

Brendan Langlois, and the late model stock car he was
to have driven at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida.
By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor

When Brendan Langlois arrived at New Smyrna Beach, Fla., on Wednesday, it hadn’t rained in almost a month.
So, naturally, it poured on Saturday night, meaning his stock car-racing debut has been delayed.
Langlois, a 19-year-old from Kamloops, was to have driven for TRI Driver Development in the season-opening Pro Late Model 100 at New Smyrna Speedway, a half-mile high-banked asphalt oval that is home to the FASCAR series. In fact, he was to have started fifth in a 16-car field when the heavens opened.
“Apparently,” said Langlois, who flew into Florida a week ago, “it hadn’t rained for three weeks before this. It didn’t rain the whole time we were there until five minutes before the race was about to start, and it was coming down pretty good.
“It stopped and they started drying the track off and we thought we might get the race in, and then it started pouring rain again so they decided to call it.”
Not even a rainout could put a damper on Langlois’ weekend, though.
“No, it went really well,” he said.
Langlois spent Thursday and Friday testing and familiarizing himself with his car.
“I got really comfortable in the car again and was able to run some pretty quick laps, despite the heat out there,” he said. “That was really good.”
On Friday, he also took part in some practice sessions, meaning he was able to get out on the track with other cars. That allowed him to “work on driving around other cars, which is something I hadn’t been able to do yet.”
Drivers ran two-lap qualifiers Saturday and Langlois was to have started fifth. In fact, he said he was just 1/10th of a second off the pole.
He qualified behind four Florida drivers – Justin Larson, 24, of Safety Harbor, Rich Clouser, 29, of Palm Bay, Drew Brannon, 19, of Miami and Jamie Skinner, 34, of Port Orange. Skinner is the son of NASCAR veteran Mike Skinner.
“It was a pretty good weekend,” Langlois said. “It’s just unfortunate that the race got rained out so I didn’t get a race in.”
The FASCAR opener now is scheduled for Saturday, but Langlois won’t be there. He and his father, Norm, continue to look for sponsors. They hope to raise some funds so that they can “schedule another weekend that we can go down there and do another race to reaplace this one,” Brendan said.
And even though he didn’t get to run, he didn’t feel or see anything that would tell him he can’t drive at least at that level.
“It was definitely a good confidence boost,” said Langlois, who had tested at New Smyrna in November 2009. “I was able to run pretty well and get comfortable in the car again. It will definitely be a lot better going down there the next time. It’ll be a lot more fresh in my mind, instead of a two-year break.
“I learned a lot. That’s the biggest thing.”

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