PELETIER, NC – Veteran racer Mark Wertz saved his best for last, surging from third to first in the final lap of a chaotic Late Model race to score the victory at Carteret County Speedway on Saturday night.
Wertz was running in the fourth position in the closing laps of the race, which had been dominated by Chris Burns when a late-race caution set up a two-lap shootout. Coming to the white flag, Brandon Clements was able to muscle his way past Burns and then Burns and Boo Boo Dalton tangled in turn one, as the caution came out to set up an overtime finish.
Because the caution was called for a separate incident, Burns retained the lead position, where he had been running at the last officially scored lap. Wertz, who restarted third on the final overtime attempt, was able to get past Dalton, Clements, and Burns on the last lap of the race – making the pass on Burns in the final corner. The win came in Wertz’s first start at Carteret County Speedway.
“Sometimes the fastest car doesn’t always win,” Wertz, 50, from Chesapeake, Virginia, said. “The saddest part is, the car is a whole lot better than I am. I needed a race here. As the race went on, I started realizing more and more what I had to do. We got that long run there and I was slowly creeping up on Boo Boo. Stuff happens. I hate to see it for these guys who run here every week, but we came here to race, and I got to capitalize and, thank God we did it. That four-and-a-half-hour ride’s worthwhile now.”
Wertz is a two-time Late Model champion at Langley Speedway in Virginia, a track which Carteret shares many characteristics with, and he had the help of three-time Carteret County Speedway winner Connor Hall. Chris Burns ended up finishing second while Brandon Clements, Tyler Horne, and Boo Boo Dalton rounded out the top-five.
Burns may not have won the battle, but the 27-year-old from Swansboro, North Carolina, went on to win the war, clinching his second Late Model track championship.
“We had a pretty good car in the race, we just didn’t need to see that caution on lap 74, but it is what it is,” Burns said. “We’ll move on to the next one. Overall, it’s been a pretty good year for us. Overall, we only had one race where we didn’t finish. The car’s just been really good this year and we’ve been able to put a lot of solid runs together. Tonight, I felt like we had a car to win, but it’s racing.”
Burns had clinched the championship by taking the green flag in Saturday’s race. His championship was confirmed in postrace technical inspection.
- Mark Wertz
- Chris Burns
- Brandon Clements
- Tyler Horne
- Boo Boo Dalton
- Tim Allensworth