South Boston Speedway News
Wertz Would Love for 100th Career Win Be His First At South Boston
May 13, 2016 - updated May 13th, 2016 7:40am
Web posted by Mike Smith
Southboston, Va --
(May 10, 2016) – Mark Wertz is one-win shy of 100 career Late Model stock victories. None of those 99 came at South Boston Speedway.
He’d like for the two to intersect at South Boston Saturday night.
“I’m sitting on 99 wins. I’ve got a lot of seconds and thirds at South Boston and finished decent in a lot of big races there, but I’ve not won,” said the 47-year-old Wertz. “That first win, if we ever get it, is going to be huge. And I couldn’t think of any place better to get that 100th win than South Boston.
“It’s unreal the talent level at South Boston. To come and run in the top five is like winning at other tracks with Lee (Pulliam), Philip (Morris), Peyton (Sellers), McCarty (Bobby), Thaxton (Austin) and Bowling (Matt). I was telling someone the other day that when the green dropped at South Boston we had three national champions, a regional champion and three track champions in the top 10. It’s a Martinsville caliber field.”
Wertz would be the regional champion in that field; he won a pair of NASCAR regional championships in 2003 and 2004 before the format was changed. He also has four track championships, three at Langley Speedway and one at Southampton Speedway.
And even without a win he’s right in the middle of this year’s title battle at South Boston in second behind Bowling after registering four top-5 and eight top-10 finishes.
“A pleasant surprise is the best way to put it,” is how Wertz described the 2016 season so far.
It’s especially surprising considering Wertz had no intention of running South Boston on a regular basis until his home track, Langley Speedway, ran into problems and has yet to open for the season. Wertz’s shop is only five miles from Langley, but instead of that short jaunt, he and his team is making the three-hour drive on U.S. 58 across southern Virginia. And it’s a ride he plans on making for the rest of the season.
“We started coming to South Boston because Langley was shut down and we were waiting to see what was going to happen. But now we have ourselves in a positon to finish the season out at South Boston,” said Wertz, a 29-year employee of Newport News Shipbuilding.
Wertz said the air of uncertainty early in the season may well have helped propel him to such a solid start to the season.
“I think because we came up to South Boston just to get some racing in and to have some fun to start the year took some of the pressure off. Now we’ve just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing, taking each race as it comes and get out of the car what it will give and not try to get more out of the car than it will give.
Wertz’s title hunt was helped two weeks ago when he decided to take advantage of South Boston’s new passing points rule, dropping to 17th in the field at the start of the race. He climbed all the way to fourth and picked up 13 extra championship points.
“Our goal was to make it back into the top seven. We did a little better than our goal. We were pleased.”
Wertz admits the obvious, that it’s much more expensive to make the trip to South Boston than staying close to home. But, he says, South Boston’s efforts to make racing more affordable for competitors this season by limiting tire purchases to two a week and guaranteeing a minimum $500 payout has made the travel much easier.
“Is it more expensive? It is and it isn’t. Everybody at South Boston has put their best foot forward to help racers. The two-tire rule has helped balance out the cost of fuel and lodging for us,” said Wertz, who has sponsorship from Dunkin Donuts for the sixth season, along with 2 ½ Men Moving and Storage, Taylor Waste Services, Duragloss and Performance Graphics. “It’s a track where some guys who could only run four or five times a year could expand their schedule and now run every week.
“South Boston has made a statement more so than any other track. For South Boson to go from a track struggling to have eight or 10 cars a week to have 22 to 25 every week … that says a lot for what this track has done.”
Wertz says he just wants to stay focused for the rest of the season and keep doing what he’s been doing his entire career.
“The car has been good the last few weeks. I’m just trying to stay focused, race everybody clean and have the respect of everyone else. I’ve always tried not to have an asterisk by my name. I want people to remember me as a fair, hard racer.”
Racing returns to South Boston Speedway Saturday night with the Bojangles NASCAR Late Model 100 racing program.
There will be a 100-lap race for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Cars, twin 25-lap Limited Sportsman races, a 30-lap Budweiser Pure Stock race, a 15-lap Budweiser Hornets race and a 25-lap race for the touring Southern Ground Pounders series which features vintage Modified and Sportsman racers.
Registration opens at 2:30 p.m., pit gates open at 3 p.m. and practice will start at 4 p.m.Grandstand gates open at 5:30 p.m., qualifying starts at 6 p.m. and the first race takes the green at7 p.m.
Adult general admission tickets are $10 each, with youth ages 7-12 admitted for $5. Children ages six and under are free with a paid adult.