Despite a disappointing finish in the first leg of the Virginia Triple Crown at South Boston Speedway, Mark Wertz, driver of the Keen Parts/Dunkin Donuts machine, has already turned his attention to Langley Speedway and Hampton Heat on July 20.
At South Boston, teams had to battle a day-to-night transition when setups on the cars were for full night time conditions.
For Wertz, the first half of the Thunder Road Harley-Davidson 200 went OK.
“We missed qualifying pretty bad,” Wertz said. “I free’d the car up too much. I got way too loose. I started 25th, but we worked ourselves up patiently. In the first 100 laps, we had a goal set. We were close. We had gotten up to 13th before I got spun with 15 to go before the break. I raced back to 15th.
“We made a couple of small adjustments based on the first half. Knowing that place and knowing it grips up, it tends to get tighter. When the second half started, everything took off OK, but then we were fortunate enough to miss the first big wreck but unfortunate to not miss the second big wreck. I got collected in that.”
Once the second half of the race went green, Wertz was able to miss the first big wreck on the front stretch but unable to miss the second big wreck on Lap 124, which ultimately ended his day.
On social media following the race, Wertz expressed frustration with Ty Gibbs. During the race, Wertz and Gibbs had two particular run-ins. The first incident between the two occurred when Gibbs made contact with Wertz, Brandon Pierce and Ryan Wilson and on the Lap 124 caution flag when Gibbs turned Travis Scott.
Wertz explained his frustration to Short Track Scene with Gibbs Monday.
“I guess the biggest part of my frustration is, I understand short track racing,” he said. “I have been doing it for 32 years. I just don’t understand the lack of patience and/or driving through somebody in the middle of the straightaway or on corner entry. I guess coming from the lineage he comes from that we would have seen a little more of that out of him.
“Obviously, things have cooled off a little bit, but it doesn’t fix my race car. I have a lot of respect for the car owner and the crew. I just wish the driver would have been a bit more patient and more poise and talent in this particular event.”
Wertz believes that with Gibbs being 16-years-old, he needs to learn a little bit more patience and car control, which will be learned in Late Model Stock.
“I’m definitely not knocking the kid as I do understand his age as I was there one time myself. I just really would have liked to have seen more maturity or an attempt at maturity out of him. I think a lot of the other drivers Saturday night kind of have the same feeling, but the weekend is over. We will leave grudges at the racetrack and move on.”
As the Virginia Triple Crown moves to Langley Speedway, Wertz hopes to not see the same amount of carnage in the second half as seen at South Boston, but he doesn’t rule it out.
With the Virginia Triple Crown being decided based on average finishing position, Wertz finds himself about 18 spots behind Peyton Sellers after the South Boston 200. With Langley being a home track, he hopes previous notes will transfer to the race.
“Hopefully with Langley being one of my home tracks, we can dig out some notes,” he said. “We finished fourth in the grassroots race back in April. I am hoping some of the stuff we learned from this year’s track conditions can turn into a decent finish for that.
“I think if I can salvage a top-five out of it, it would definitely help us with the Triple Crown being that I am 18 in the hole now. I definitely hope home track advantage will help a little bit too. We won three races there last year. I am hoping some of that knowledge we learned will segue into this year.”
Editor’s note: Ty Gibbs was asked for comment before this story was published but did not respond before publish time