Casey Wyatt making progress halfway through Late Model racing season at Langley Speedway

After 22 years of experience behind the wheel at Langley Speedway, Late Model driver Casey Wyatt knows when to tip his hat to his opponents.

The trio of Greg Edwards (five wins this season), Matthew Waltz (six) and Nick Smith (one) make up the most likely contenders to top the standings.

But Wyatt, 30, hasn't given up on the 2014 season yet — there's still more to learn.

"Greg and Matt have been the strong ones this year and they've got it really figured out," Wyatt said. "But we've made a lot of changes. Some stuff has worked and some hasn't. It's just a matter of getting enough time on the track to get to where we need to be."

Team Wyatt has broken into the top five seven times in 10 races so far this season. It might be able to crack the top three more consistently if the team can figure out how best to race on the new track surface, put down at Langley last year.

The idea of the new asphalt was to make it last longer, according to Casey's father Wayne. For this season, at least, it's made for a tougher time getting around corners and finding the right line on the racetrack,

Wayne Wyatt said the recent cold winter has made the surface more rigid than usual.

"A new asphalt is always fast, but over the winter, I don't know if it's gotten harder, but it's really changed a lot," he said. "It's very temperamental. If it gets rain on it, it changes. If it sits in the sun all day, it changes. It seems that the elements affect it more than any other I've seen in a long time."

That's not an excuse, Casey Wyatt said, not that he's had anything to apologize for. Wyatt is in fourth place in the Late Model standings, just 44 points behind leader Edwards. Wyatt said he's been testing different adjustments to his car, as well as staying conscious of where he is on the track at any given time.

"Usually, the bottom groove is the fastest groove," Wayne Wyatt said. "But this year, more people have been running in the second groove, because it seems to have more traction. The bottom groove has lost some of its bite."

Casey Wyatt will be looking to pick up his first win Saturday at Langley. He's scheduled to race in twin 75-lap races on a night that also features twin 20-lap Super Street races. Qualifying is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and invocation will be at 6:55 p.m.

Whether Wyatt's able to implement his adjustments this year or carry over what he's learned into 2015, he's feeling confident. He'll be using a new motor this week, which will replace the one he's been using since the beginning of 2013.

"We've got a fresh motor already, the car has been making progress, getting faster and faster on an average lap run," he said. "Some guys got back over the track changes quicker than others, but we're getting there, too."

Thackham can be reached by phone at 757-247-7422.