Langley Speedway News
Wertz Posts 6th Late Model Win in NEXTEL 75
Sep 3, 2007 - updated Sep 3rd, 2007 5:37pm
Web posted by Gary Daughtrey
Hampton, Va. --
Mark Wertz took the lead on lap 32 and rolled to his sixth victory of the season in the NEXTEL 75 for the Crossroads Fuel Service Late Models, the headlining event of Saturday evening’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program at Langley Speedway.
Greg Edwards was fastest in the afternoon qualifying session, lapping the .395-mile oval at 87.031 mph. He shared the front row with his brother, division points leader Danny Edwards. Wertz and Casey Wyatt lined up in Row 2, while Dean Shiflett and Mark Claar occupied Row 3.
Per track rules, as the winner of the last two races, Nick Smith had to start from the outside of Row 4. He actually turned in the fourth-quickest qualifying effort.
Smith’s bid for three straight wins took a heavy hit on the opening lap when he spun into the infield off the backstretch. He dropped to the back of the pack as the field gathered for a complete restart.
Heading for the second green flag, Greg Edwards failed to come up to speed immediately and the inside line quickly stacked up behind him. Just past the start/finish line, Ross Clements and Craig Eastep went spinning toward the inside wall and the caution flag flew again.
On the third try at a start, everyone launched cleanly. Danny Edwards remained on his brother’s flank and nosed ahead to lead lap 1. He gained the clear-cut edge in Turn 1 on the second circuit. Greg Edwards settled into second, followed by Wertz and Wyatt.
The third caution flag waved on lap 3 when Eastep encountered problems in Turn 2. As the field slowed, Jeff Shiflett arrived on the scene and looped his car. He lost his left-rear tire on the way to the pits and had to limp in on the rim. His crew went to work, returning him to the track for the restart.
Back under green, Danny Edwards quickly fashioned a two-length advantage over Greg Edwards, stretching it to 3-1/2 lengths as the field rumbled onto the backstretch.
On lap 5, Wertz drove under Greg Edwards in a bid for second place. He nosed ahead at the end of lap 6 and cleared Edwards on lap 7, leaving the door open for Wyatt, who completed the pass for third on lap 8. Dean Shiflett was next in line and he scooted ahead of Edwards on lap 9.
While positions were changing hands deeper in the field, Wertz was busy tracking down the leader. By lap 23, he and Danny Edwards were bumper-to-bumper and up by a full straightaway over third-place Wyatt.
On lap 30, Dean Shiflett and Greg Edwards bypassed Wyatt to take over third and fourth, respectively.
Wertz went after Danny Edwards for the top spot on lap 32. He ducked underneath the leader at the end of the frontstretch, drew even in the turn and roared ahead off the second corner. Within three laps, he had already pulled away by three car-lengths.
Clawing his way from the back of the pack, Smith gained a top-five spot on lap 37, powering past Wyatt through Turns 1 and 2.
The last of the race’s four yellow flags was unfurled on lap 42 when Gary Weeks cut down a right-front tire heading into Turn 1. Setting the lineup for the restart, Wertz was the leader, separated from second-place Danny Edwards by a lapped machine. Another lapped car fell in line between Edwards and third-place Dean Shiflett.
Returning to green, Wertz took advantage of the buffer and bolted to a three-length lead. Behind him, Smith was on the move, snagging fourth place from Greg Edwards on lap 44.
As lap 50 went on the board, Wertz began to edge away from Danny Edwards, extending his lead to four car-lengths. Smith’s charge to the front also seemed to wane as Dean Shiflett put some distance between himself and the fourth-place runner.
Entering the final 10 circuits, however, both Danny Edwards and Smith seemed to come to life. Edwards closed to within two lengths of Wertz for the lead, while Smith filled Dean Shiflett’s mirror for third.
At the finish, Wertz managed to keep Danny Edwards at arm’s length and won by 0.380-second — about two lengths. Shiflett was third to the line, fighting off Smith in the closing laps. Greg Edwards completed the top five.
Wyatt, Eastep and Jeff Shiflett were sixth, seventh and eighth, in that order, the final drivers on the lead lap at the end. Mitch Sarvis was a lap down, in ninth, and Bobby Spivey was two laps back, in 10th.
In Victory Lane after the event, Wertz celebrated the end of a three-race winless drought: “I feel like I’ve been gone forever from up here. Y’know, a lot of guys were making a lot of changes this week and we’re kinda stuck in hole right now. We can’t really make the changes ‘til over the winter and I told my guys, this week, we’re just gonna have to go work and find something that works. So, we threw something at the car every practice today. Man, when the green flag dropped, Greg missed a gear and I said, ‘Oh, no! I don’t want to mess this car up yet.’ But, we had a really good car. I appreciate Danny giving me the room he gave me once we got going. Hats off to my crew for sticking by us. I wish the 21 (Smith) coulda been up there, so we coulda found out how we stack up against him. I’m sure he’ll be back next week, but we’ve gotta take the wins when we can get ‘em.”
Second-place Danny Edwards offered a tip of the cap to the race winner: “We were a little better tonight, but Mark definitely stepped it up and he was definitely better tonight. It was feeling pretty good for the first 20 laps or so, but we were a little bit free there in the first 20 and it just got worse. But, we were able to hang on and we could see the checkered flag fall, so that’s better than what we’ve been doing for the last few weeks. We’re starting to figure it out. The guys on this team have been working hard, sticking with me and giving me a good race car each week. Hopefully, we can get us some more wins before the season’s over. I think we’re knocking on the door now, so, hopefully, we can get a little better.”
Turning to the battle for the track championship and the impact of the American Racer brand tires, Edwards continued, “It is a concern, I think. Mark and myself have talked about it. I mean, we’re racing for this championship and it could very easily come down to bad luck for either one of us. Having a flat tire or a tire come apart or something that we can’t control. We’re doing the best we can to keep our car running up front and, apparently, he’s doing the same. It might come down to a luck deal.”
Speaking of tires, third-place finisher Dean Shiflett was sporting a flat tire when he pulled up for his post-race interview. “I think it happened to me with about 10 to go there. The thing started freeing up a little bit, the steering started feeling a little tighter. It was like, ‘Man, this thing ain’t feeling just right no more.’ I didn’t know the tire was flat, though. Good run for us tonight. Man, we needed it. We come over here Tuesday and practiced and we done a lot of stuff to this thing. I tried some stuff that I used to do on the Grand Stock car and, by golly, it worked on the Late Model.”
With his victory, Wertz halted Smith’s two-race winning streak, delivered the 18th win of the year for Dodge and shaved another two points off of Danny Edwards’ division lead. With four races to go, Wertz now trails Edwards by 26 points, 944-918
In the evening’s other feature events:
In the 50-lap B&C Seafood Modified race, Joe Scarbrough started on the pole, at 84.961 mph, and wired the field for his third win of the year, and his first since April 28.
Scarbrough grabbed the lead on the opening lap of the event, pulling ahead of his front-row colleague, Shawn Balluzzo. Bubba Farmer quickly filled the void to the inside of Balluzzo and moved into second place on lap 2. A.J. Winstead emerged from the shuffle in fourth, followed by Buster Horne.
On lap 8, Balluzzo reclaimed the second spot, slipping past Farmer in Turns 1 and 2. The exchange allowed Scarbrough to build a three-length lead. Soon, though, Balluzzo had made up that ground and was hunting for an opening.
For the remainder of the caution-free event, Balluzzo followed closely in Scarbrough’s tire tracks, never falling more than a couple car-lengths behind. He couldn’t muster a winning pass, however, as Scarbrough held on to win by 0.231-second — just a single car-length. Farmer tailed Scarbrough and Balluzzo to the stripe, in third, while Winstead and Rusty Wood completed the top five.
Like Nick Smith in Late Models, Steve Dill came into Saturday’s 50-lap Med Express Urgent Care Super Street feature on a two-race winning streak and had to start eighth. Unlike Smith, though, Dill overcame the less-than-ideal starting spot and scored his fifth win of the season, gaining sole possession of the points lead in the process.
Dill was the fast qualifier, at 75.143 mph, but retreated to the outside of Row 4 for the start, handing the pole position to Ritchie German.
German paced the first two circuits before giving way to co-points leader Tommy Sweeney. Ricky Derrick tagged along with Sweeney and took over second place, dropping German to third.
While the shuffle was going on at the head of the field, Dill was steadily moving forward. He gained two positions on the opening lap, then cracked the top five on lap 2. He moved up to fourth on lap 7, then overhauled German for third on lap 15. On lap 19, he pulled off a high side of Derrick in Turns 1 and 2 to pick up second. By the halfway mark, he and Sweeney were nose-to-tail.
Dill stalked Sweeney until lap 36 when he drew alongside the leader on the backstretch. A lapped car, though, loomed in his path. In Turns 3 and 4, that slower machine slid up the track in front of Sweeney and Dill took advantage, gaining the clear-cut edge off the fourth corner.
Once out front, Dill drove away from his pursuers. By the finish, his winning margin had grown to 1.811 seconds over Sweeney. Derrick was third, followed by German and Jeff Shannon. With just one more race on the ‘07 Super Street calendar, Dill now holds a slim, two-point lead over Sweeney, the defending division champ.
Don McLaughlin led from pole to checkers to post his second win in a 25-lapper for the Peninsula Hardwood Mulch INEX Legends. Jeremy Cook shared the front row with McLaughlin and held down the runner-up spot for the first 16 circuits. On lap 17, though, he gave way to division leader Ryan Crites. Nick Smith tagged along with Crites and moved into third, dropping Cook to fourth.
While the scramble for second played out in his mirror, McLaughlin widened his lead to half a straightaway.
Over the closing laps, Crites was able to trim a few car-lengths from the leader’s advantage. It wasn’t nearly enough, though, as McLaughlin sailed to a 0.849-second win. Smith was third to the line, followed by Cook and Steve Keesee.
With a drafting boost from Ryan Hudgins, Dwain Smith scored his first win in a 20-lap contest for the Kim Jusino, Realtor HRKC Pro Winged Champ Karts.
Smith started on the pole, at 60.837 mph, and bolted from the pack at the initial green flag with Hudgins in tow.
Cory Millard, the outside pole starter, drifted back to third before secure drafting help from series points leader David Phelps. Working in tandem, they rapidly closed in on Smith and Hudgins.
The four-way battle for the lead evaporated on lap 15, however, when Millard looped her kart off Turn 4. She quickly pointed her machine in the right direction and continued as the caution flag stayed under wraps. With the miscue, though, she dropped from third to 10th and left Phelps without a drafting partner, allowing Smith and Hudgins to open a half-straightaway lead.
Phelps eventually picked up a drafting push from Casey Wyatt, his teammate, and Spencer Saunders. By that time, though, Smith and Hudgins were long gone.
The two leaders maintained their tight formation until the final circuit when Hudgins made a bid for the win. Smith held him off at the line by just less than a kart-length, winning by 0.093-second. Phelps, Wyatt and Saunders rounded out the top five, almost three seconds behind the top two.
CROSSROADS FUEL SERVICE
LATE MODELS - 75 laps
Fin. Pos. (Car #) Driver; Laps Compl.
1. (40) Mark Wertz; 75
2. (26) Danny Edwards; 75
3. (06) Dean Shiflett; 75
4. (21) Nick Smith; 75
5. (27) Greg Edwards; 75
6. (29) Casey Wyatt; 75
7. (2) Craig Eastep; 75
8. (01) Jeff Shiflett; 75
9. (88) Mitch Sarvis; 74
10. (15) Bobby Spivey; 73
11. (12) Ross Clements; 73
12. (38) Kim Forrester; 72
13. (7) Mark Claar; 68
14. (48) Shawn Balluzzo; 54
15. (20) Gary Weeks; 41
Pole: G. Edwards - 87.031 mph.
B&C SEAFOOD MODIFIEDS - 50 laps
Fin. Pos. (Car #) Driver; Laps Compl.
1. (30) Joe Scarbrough; 50
2. (57) Shawn Balluzzo; 50
3. (11) Bubba Farmer; 50
4. (99) A.J. Winstead; 50
5. (69) Rusty Wood; 50
6. (36) Chris Johnson; 50
7. (6) Buster Horne; 50
8. (5) Michael Leech; 49
9. (84) Donnie Medlin; 49
10. (65) Jimmy Kibler; 49
11. (39) Toby Davis; 49
12. (16) Ernie Dettbarn; 48
13. (27) Andy Kemp; 46
14. (33) Rob Wells; 45
Pole: Scarbrough - 84.961 mph.
MED EXPRESS URGENT CARE
SUPER STREETS - 50 laps
Fin. Pos. (Car #) Driver; Laps Compl.
1. (3) Steve Dill; 50
2. (11) Tommy Sweeney; 50
3. (0) Ricky Derrick; 50
4. (10) Ritchie German; 50
5. (81) Jeff Shannon; 50
6. (5) Jason Moore; 50
7. (21) Randy Akers; 50
8. (16) Chris Flowers; 49
9. (86) Jessica Wood; 49
10. (15) Dale Parro; 49
11. (54) Jason Langley; 49
12. (2) Rod Busitzky; 49
13. (8) Dennis Nagle; 48
14. (14) Larry Venable; 48
15. (03) Jerry LaMontagne; 48
16. (09) Harry VanGuilder; 47
17. (38) Jeff LaBeau; 46
18. (13) Bobby Bradley; 46
19. (41) Richard Ellis; 45
20. (58) Doug Woodyard; 39
21. (18) Dennis Nowak; 17
22. (12) Sean Calway; 14
Fast Qualifier: Dill - 75.143 mph.
(As winner of the previous two races,
Dill had to start eighth.)
PENINSULA HARDWOOD MULCH
INEX LEGENDS - 25 laps
Fin. Pos. (Car #) Driver; Laps Compl.
1. (21) Don McLaughlin; 25
2. (00) Ryan Crites; 25
3. (12) Nick Smith; 25
4. (27) Jeremy Cook; 25
5. (0) Steve Keesee; 25
6. (9) Steve Causey; 25
7. (8) Jamie Price; 25
8. (22) Brian May; 25
9. (30) Joe Hendricks; 25
10. (16) Chris Peterson; 25
Pole: McLaughlin - 78.076 mph.
KIM JUSINO, REALTOR HRKC PRO
WINGED CHAMP KARTS - 20 laps
Fin. Pos. (Kart #) Driver; Laps Compl.
1. (33) Dwain Smith; 20
2. (29) Ryan Hudgins; 20
3. (46) David Phelps; 20
4. (45) Casey Wyatt; 20
5. (1) Spencer Saunders; 20
6. (8) Danny Wyatt; 20
7. (81) Jeremy Grogg; 20
8. (25) Adam Chalkley; 20
9. (18) Cory Millard; 20
10. (6) Greg Burgess Jr.; 20
11. (99) Chris O'Brien; 20
12. (27) Rob Cotic; 20
13. (23) Greg Burgess; 20
14. (77) Eddie Mitchell; 20
15. (17) Greg Shaffer; 20
16. (02) David Millard; 20
17. (28) Bobby Peach; 20
18. (52) Phillip Clarke; 19
19. (10) Daniel Millard; 19
20. (21) Jason Houck; 2
Pole: Smith - 60.837 mph.