Category Archives: Modified

Mark Wertz Doubles Down in Modified’s After Emotional Return to Racing at Langley Speedway

Mark Wertz celebrates win number one with custom and honorary Shawn Balluzzo checkered flag during his victory lap Saturday night 7.25.20 (Photo: Sara Langley)

Hampton, VA – With a sold-out crowd for the second straight week, the Modifieds were back in action at Larry King Laws Langley Speedway with twin 30 lap features. Last races winner, Matt Carter, set the fastest time of the day in qualifying with a 16.123 (88.197 MPH) to set on the pole. That lap being four-tenths faster than the entire field proving he’d be the man to beat for the night. Mark Wertz, Adam Medek, Chase Burrow, and Chris Johnson rounded out the fast five. With the passing of Shawn Balluzzo two weeks ago, the speedway paid homage to the 11-time champion with the missing man formation during the pace laps. The cars lined up double file with two laps to green but left the first position open for Balluzzo. The scoreboard lit up with 48’s, and flagman Shane Snyder waived a checkered flag with a 48 printed on it.

The field went back normal and got ready for the green flag. The first caution didn’t take long as it came on lap 1 for Jamie Sample having problems. Next restart and Carter shot to the lead down the backstretch with Wertz right in line with him. Medek got stuck on the outside causing him to fall back to the fifth position. The second caution would come out this time for Medek going for a loop in turn one. During this caution period, leader Matt Carter’s machine lost power and came to a stop on track, ultimately ending his hopes of winning the first race. We would later learn transmission issues sidelined the defending race winner. This handed the lead over to Wertz. With 10 laps to go, Wertz had opened the lead up to half a straightaway over Michael Johnson. A late-race charge for Gdovic let him battle Michael for second. The checkered flag flew and Mark Wertz picked you his first Modified win on the season.

With the NASCAR mandated eight-car invert, Eric McPherson inherited the pole with Adam Medek, Chase Burrow, Brad Adams, and Chris Johnson the new starting five. Instead of starting eighth Wertz dropped to the rear of the field. Once the green flag was displayed, Medek jumped to the lead while McPherson fell to third. Burrow would also fall back to sixth after a rough start. The first caution came out for Matt Carter looping it around in turn one. Under caution, this time Chris Johnson had issues and pulled his machine to pit road ending his night.

On the ensuing restart a pileup happened in turn two involving McPherson, Burrow, Carter, Gdovic, and Shawn Adkins. Winner of the first race Wertz, merely missed the incident to continue his hopes of winning again. Gdovic and Adkins were able to continue while everyone else’s night was over. Medek took off with the lead once again on the restart. Michael Johnson slid up the track out of turn two slowing all the momentum Wertz had. Wertz made his way around Michael for second on lap 15 and set his sights on Medek.

With five laps to go, Medek was holding a lead that made it seem like he’d get the win, however, that lead would disappear as the caution lights came on for Adkins spinning in turn one. Wertz took the cone to lineup on Medeks outside for the restart. Wertz made the outside line work and cleared Medek going into turn two for the lead. Mark Wertz would hold on and double down and win the second 30 lap feature of the night for the Modifieds.

“Hey I am semi-retired so I love this one,” Wertz said in victory lane following an emotional moment with the Balluzzo family. “Sorry to see Matt broke but that was good racing. This one is for my buddy. Can’t thank Corvette Parts enough, Dunkin Donuts, Bubba Johnston for letting me run his car, Pro turf. My crew worked hard today, we knew we were kinda behind, [these] wins are getting hard to get so I’ll take one. I actually gotta thank the Hubbard family tonight. That last race I didn’t use up the right rear about halfway through that one. I was really having to eggshell the pedal and I just kept thinking Dixieland, Dixieland, Dixieland! Lift early, roll, and it really paid off!”

 

Larry King Law Modified Race 1 Results;

  1. #19 Mark Wertz; 30
  2. #38 Michael Johnson; 30
  3. #64 Rick Gdovic; 30
  4. #36 Chris Johnson; 30
  5. #3 Brad Adams; 30
  6. #0 Chase Burrow; 30
  7. #29 Adam Medek; 30
  8. #16 Eric McPherson; 30
  9. #50 Grant Blasingame; 30
  10. #44 Shawn Adkins; 30
  11. #49 Todd Whitesell; 30
  12. #78 Matt Carter; 14
  13. #18 DJ Valente; 14
  14. #28 Jamie Sample; 1

 

Larry King Law Modified Race 2 Results;

  1. #19 Mark Wertz; 30
  2. #29 Adam Medek; 30
  3. #38 Michael Johnson; 30
  4. #64 Rick Gdovic; 30
  5. #3 Brad Adams; 30
  6. #50 Grant Blasingame; 30
  7. #49 Todd Whitesell; 30
  8. #44 Shawn Adkins; 30
  9. #36 Chris Johnson; 6
  10. #0 Chase Burrow; 6
  11. #16 Eric McPherson; 6
  12. #78 Matt Carter; 6
  13. #28 Jamie Sample; 2

 

[Featured Photo courtesy of Mark Wertz Racing]

Kern: 11-time Modified Champion Shawn Balluzzo Returns Home; Earns Title of Guardian Angel

Wait a minute…. that title can’t be right? It is supposed to read Shawn Balluzzo returns to Dale Lemonds victory lane. Or, Balluzzo Earns First Victory of 2020. Or, Balluzzo Dominates Modified Feature in Triumphant Win…

Well if you stop and think about it the title to this piece isn’t really far off. Shawn did essentially return to victory lane – more than likely greeted by Dale Lemonds himself. He picked up one of life’s ultimate victories – to finally ditch that infamous limp down pit road to stand with his Father as he triumphantly watches over his family from above.

I never thought in the short time I have been covering races that I would witness something like this. Clearly, I understand that racing is a very dangerous sport, and everyone involved knows this. – trust me I know this and respect this. However, I have also witnessed this sport change over the last twenty-some years and the evolution of safety has been crazy. Plus Shawn was like Iron Man, The Energizer Bunny, and Humpty Dumpty all in one! He would pancake the wall, get out the car yelling and screaming, and chuck water bottles at you. He fell off a ladder away from the racetrack injuring himself AND STILL RACED! Shawn even got back into the cockpit of his race car when doctors gave him the worst news I imagine a father can get – your daughter has cancer. Not only did he still race but he still won.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be typing something like this. Matter of fact I sit here looking at this mostly blank piece of paper and still struggle to not only accept what happened this past Saturday night at the local short track that started everything for me but also what happened to the man and my family that not only introduced me to life in racing on the other side of the fence but honestly saved my life during the absolute worst time of my life when Terri essentially took me in as one of her own.  I struggled for a few days with myself if I should even publish something like this but because of the same things I just mentioned above felt that I should.

I’ll never forget the moment I mentioned above, the day that I knew I wanted to do more than just watch the racecars at Langley Speedway. It was towards the end of my sophomore year at Kecoughtan School. I had made a new friend by the name of David McIntosh (around the race track we all know him as Christopher).  Found out that his dad was a driver at the track. The dude with the mouse on his car is how I told him I knew what he was talking about.

As our friendship grew in school we would also hang out at the track when he wasn’t on pit road – which if you know Christopher wasn’t all that much. Till one night he needed a ride somewhere, come to find out that somewhere was his dad’s race shop. I remember that night like it was yesterday. Walking into that shop on 48th street almost 15 years ago. Seeing your No. 48 Late Model inches from my face on jack stands, lined up with Todd & Gene’s cars. Literally, star-struck to be that close, to touch an actual racecar. Then, for some reason to this day, I still don’t understand, you trusted Christopher and I to change the rear end while you built the motion simulator.

I had never been happier to lie on a dirty concrete floor and get covered in 90-weight gear oil. Then over some time, you let us do some bodywork. THEN I was invited to come down one Saturday night and hang out in the pits. I remember it was raining that day and my father had decided he wasn’t going to risk going out in the rain and the races not get in. I was thinking do I want to risk going and spending the money for it to rain. Well, I am glad that I ended up going.

That Saturday night you gave me an electric impact and the job of making sure your tires got on and off the car, stacked in the right spot, and cleaned off. It was that moment holding that impact, loosening and tightening those lug nuts that I was hooked. I wanted to be more than just a fan in the stands and I will forever be grateful and thankful for trusting a dorky 18-year-old kid with a bowl cut and no gloves to your tires that one summer night.

When I transitioned to the media side of things you were always available to me. At the track, at your house, at your shop, over the phone while you were either cutting vinyl or out putting it up somewhere. You offered me food and drink on race days. You never refused an interview. I called you and ordered 100 of my very first TWR bumper stickers; you legit printed me over a thousand. You printed a badass canvas for my wife and I to remember our wedding day. And later on in life allowed my crazy little girl to play around your pit stall with her best friend – your granddaughter.

I spent a lot of time over the Balluzzo house, watching and growing up with your kids. Feeling like I was legit a member of your family. I was blessed with a brother I never had and felt like I earned two sisters to help watch over and protect thanks to you and Terri. I got to watch you dominate Langley like it was easy. Laughing at you and Big Dave banter on the radio, writing countless stories of the 48 returning to victory lane. 2020 has been one of the most trying years in a lot of our lives and this past weekend just made it that much harder. I couldn’t let 2020 go by without one final story of Shawn Balluzzo.

Your family means a lot to me and for that, I will always be grateful to have known you. To use a quote from one of my all-time favorite movies; “Remember, kid. There’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die…”I think it is safe to say that you were both a Hero to many and a Legend of Langley Speedway. Just do me one favor, make sure you whip up on old them guys up there like you did down here.

A celebration of life for Shawn will be held at his home track of Langley Speedway this Thursday starting at 7 PM EDT. Speedway officials will open the grandstands starting at 6 PM to all of those who would like to come pay respect to him and his family. A stream of the service can also be found on the speedway Facebook page for those who cannot attend.

Matt Carter Opens 2020 Season with Two Victories; Langley Speedway Loses a Local Legend

Matt Carter in victory lane after winning both Modified features July 11th at Langley Speedway. (Bill Carnes/Given to Fly Photography)

Hampton, Va – The Larry King Law Modifieds opened their 2020 season at none other than Larry King Laws Langley Speedway with twin 50 lap feature events. Matt Carter, following a scary accident last season where he broke his leg, returned to action to try and dethrone Shawn Balluzzo as the “Modified King.” Balluzzo on the other hand, set out to grab his 12th championship. Mark Wertz, who hasn’t raced in the modified division in a few years, also made his return after a limited schedule last season.

In an impressive field of 16 cars, Matt Carter set his machine on the pole with a 16.030 (89.158 MPH) with Shawn Balluzzo, Chris Johnson, Brandon Gdovic, and Mark Wertz made up the fast five. With the field going double with one to go, the fans were in for an exciting showdown. Once flag-man Shane Snyder threw the green flag, Carter shot to the point and took off. Balluzzo fell in line to second as Brandon and Chris went door to door for third. Wertz had cleared Adam Medek – a Southside Speedway regular – for the fifth position. Medek had issues early and ended up parking his machine on lap 3.

Wertz put himself into the battle for third with C. Johnson and B. Gdovic coming to lap 5. The three cars somehow managed to go three-wide down the front stretch resulting in Wertz and B. Gdovic making contact. Brandon ended up pulling his car to pit road which ended his night on lap 8. By lap 10. Carter had a full straightaway lead over Balluzzo while C. Johnson and Wertz battled for third allowing Balluzo to pull away and chase after Carter.

Carter worked through lap traffic easily as he lapped up to the sixth position when the caution came out for Grant Blasingame going for a spin in turn one. Bunching up the field with 10 laps to go. On the restart, Carter got the perfect start and sailed into turn one. Wertz took the cone and settled into second with Balluzzo falling to third for a brief moment. Wertz didn’t let Carter get too far before Balluzzo made the move back to Wertz inside. Balluzzo made a little contact with Wertz in turn one to clear him for second.

With the checkered flag flying for the first time this season Matt Carter took the win going flag-to-flag. Shawn Balluzzo, Mark Wertz, Chris Johnson, and Jamie Sample rounded out the top five finishers – the only cars on the lead lap.

With the NASCAR rule to invert at least the top eight from the first race, that put another Southside Speedway regular, Michael Johnson and Roger Sawyer – brother to Elton Sawyer– on the front row. Brad Adams and Jamie Sample made your row two with Chris Johnson and Matt Carter in row three. Mark Wertz moved to the rear of the field. On the start Sawyer went into turn one with Adams in tow. Michael Johnson did not get a good start at all and held up the entire top row. Chris Johnson would take over third down the backstretch as M. Johnson fell back to battle for fifth. Jamie Sample was hot on C. Johnson’s rear nerf bar for third as Balluzzo had made his way to fifth to battle Michael.

Adams managed to get a good run on Sawyer and eventually took the lead on lap 10. Sample ended up with problems on his machine as he parked it for the night. The first of two cautions during the second race would come on lap 12 after a battle for the second position between Balluzzo and C. Johnson. The two veterans would touch wheels sending the No. 48 machine up and over Johnson’s nose and into the turn two wall. The red flag would be immediately displayed to allow safety personnel to the scene. Balluzzo was transported to a local hospital where he would later succumb to his injuries.

After the extended red flag, NASCAR officials shortened the 50 lap feature to 30. Matt Carter would pick off the final few positions to pick up back to back victories to start his 2020 season.

Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway announced Monday afternoon to honor the memory of Shawn Balluzzo there will be a celebration of life at the track this Thursday, July 16th at 7pm. The service will be open to the public with grandstand gates opening at 6pm. Family and friends of Shawn will speak with Langley Speedway track chaplain Rev. Tom Potter leading the service. For those who cannot attend, the track will be streaming the service live on Facebook. The family is encouraging all attending to dress in race day attire. Additionally, a Go Fund Me has been created by family friend Matt Miller, please see all the details at the link >> Click Here to Donate.

 

Credit: Dinah Marie Photography

 

 

Race 1 Results;

  1. #78 Matt Carter; 50
  2. #48 Shawn Balluzo; 50
  3. #19 Mark Wertz; 50
  4. #36 Chris Johnson; 50
  5. #28 Jamie Sample; 50
  6. #38 Michael Johnson; 49
  7. #51 Roger Sawyer; 49
  8. #5 Kyle Fowler; 49
  9. #47 Rick Gdovic; 49
  10. #16 Eric McPherson; 49
  11. #3 Brad Adams; 49
  12. #50 Grant Blasingame; 48
  13. #49 Todd Whitesell; 46
  14. #64 Brandon Gdovic; 8
  15. #18 DJ Valente; 8
  16. #29 Adam Medek; 3
  17. #44 Shawn Adkins; 0

Race 2 Results;

  1. #78 Matt Carter; 30
  2. #19 Mark Wertz; 30
  3. #47 Rick Gdovic; 30
  4. #5 Kyle Fowler; 30
  5. #51 Roger Sawyer; 30
  6. #50 Grant Blasingame; 30
  7. #16 Eric McPherson; 30
  8. #49 Todd Whitesell; 29
  9. #29 Adam Medek; 18
  10. #38 Michael Johnson; 15
  11. #3 Brad Adams; 12
  12. #36 Chris Johnson; 12
  13. #48 Shawn Balluzo; 12
  14. #28 Jamie Sample; 11
  15. #18 DJ Valente; 9

CHRIS HUMBLET SCORES THE VICTORY IN THE SEASON OPENER FOR THE AFFORDABLE AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR MODIFIEDS AT DOMINION RACEWAY

Thornburg, VA – The green flag finally flew for the 2020 season at Dominion Raceway with an infield full of race cars and the grandstands empty of race fans. The schedule included Modified 35, Twin 35’s for the Virginia Racers, UCAR 25, Any Car 20, and Mini Stock 25.

The main event Saturday night was the Affordable Automotive Repair Modified for 35 laps. Chris Humblet set quick time in qualifying with a lap 15.795. Tony Fowler spoiled an all Humblet front row with a second-place qualifying effort. After a redraw of 3, Jimmy Humblet led the 11-car field to the green flag.

Jimmy Humblet jumped out to an early lead followed by Chris Humblet and Tony Fowler. The caution came out 8 laps into the event when Hartley spun off turn 4. Fowler limped his machine down pit road with a terminal issue that sidelined him for the rest of the event.

The race’s final caution flew one lap later when Lowe turned Edgerton off the exit of turn 3. On the restart, Jimmy Humblet jumped back out to a commanding lead and looked to be in control of the race. That is until the leaders caught lap traffic with 10 laps to go. Lap traffic gave the elder Humblett all kinds of issues and opened the door for Chris Humblet to dive low off turn 2 making it 3-wide and took the lead. Chris Humblet never looked back and maintained a lengthy advantage over his dad and took the checkered flag for the season opener. Mike Rudy came home in the third position followed by Peyton Ferree and Wayne Hartley rounding out the top five.

The first race of the afternoon was first of two scheduled 35 lap races for the Truckin Thunder Virginia Racers. Davey Callihan set quick time in qualifying with a lap of 16.433. With a 5 car redraw after qualifying, Richard Storm and Zach Lightfoot assumed the front row and lead the 14-car field to the green flag.

The race started with a great door-to-door battle between Storm and Lightfoot. Storm would appear to take the advantage on the bottom, but Lightfoot stayed strong on the outside with some great side-by-side racing.

Bradley Kilby started making a move from his third starting position. Kilby caught Lightfoot and took the lead and he and Lightfoot separated themselves from the field 10 laps into the race.

The caution flag flew on lap 25 when Kilby got into the back of the lapped car of Barry Moore. Lightfoot and Logan Clark took the cone to start out the outside line. On the restart, Kilby jumped out the lead and pole-sitter Callihan and Lightfoot battled hard for the second position. It was another great door to door battle, but this allowed Callihan to check out on the field and secure the victory in the season opener for the exciting Virginia Racer’s division. Zach Lightfoot came home in the second position followed by Logan Clark, Davey Callihan, and Richard Storm rounding out the top five.

The second scheduled event for the Virginia Racer’s was canceled due to a storm cell that moved into the area.

Next week the action resumes at Dominion Raceway when the Late Models get their season started with two 60 lap events. Also, on the program is Virginia Racers 35, Dominion Stock 40, UCAR 25, INEX Legends 25, and INEX Bandos 25.

 

Affordable Automotive Modifieds

  1. Chris Humblet
  2. Jimmy Humblet
  3. Mike Rudy
  4. Peyton Ferree
  5. Wayne Hartley
  6. Mike Carte
  7. Kayla Surles
  8. Lauren Edgerton
  9. Jake Lowe
  10. David Blankenship
  11. Brandon Harding
  12. Tony Fowler
  13. Warren Lipford

 

Truckin Thunder Virginia Racers

 

  1. Bradley Kilby
  2. Zach Lightfoot
  3. Logan Clark
  4. Davey Callihan
  5. Richard Storm
  6. Mike Bedner
  7. Keith Carpenter
  8. Andrew Lang
  9. Barry Mooer
  10. Robb Almy
  11. Robert Almy
  12. Ryan Rector
  13. Reid Murphy
  14. Cole Bruce

Shawn Balluzzo’s Win Streak Comes to an End in Modified Night Cap at the Hands of Brandon Gdovic; Bounty Still in Tact After Balluzzo and Gdovic Split Twins

Hampton, VA– All good things eventually come to an end. For Shawn Balluzzo that would be his undefeated 2019 season. However, the $1,000 bounty is still up for grabs after Balluzzo picked up win number fifteen in the opening 40-lap feature.

Balluzzo admitted in victory lane following his flag-to-flag win in the first race that was the hardest he had to drive holding off Gdovic for 40-laps. What he didn’t know was race number two was going to be even more of a challenge. After electing to go to the rear in victory lane Balluzzo was already facing an up hill battle while Brandon Gdovic had to pass just three cars to assume the lead doing so in just eight laps.

Once out front and in clean air Gdovic set a pace that was unmatched by no one as we watched Balluzzo tear through the field – breaking into the top five by just lap ten. That was about the time Balluzzo’s luck ran out while taking a peak under Jamie Sample for second. The two must have touched which cut down Balluzzo’s right-front tire and sent him lackadaisical into the turn two outside wall drawing the first caution of the second feature. He was able to get to pit road and a new tire put on but starting once more in the rear of the field proved to be an issue. Just a handful of laps later several cars pile up in turn four forcing Balluzzo to get on the binders hard, locking up the tires and getting hit by a couple other cars trying to avoid. He was deemed part of the caution and not eligible for the cone.

Meanwhile, Gdovic was money on each of the following restarts really using the power of a brand new car to his advantage. The only real challenge for Gdovic came on the final restart – which was also the final nail in the coffin for Balluzzo – when the 48 was able to take the cone and start on the outside. After a flat tire, contact with the wall, flat spots, and contact with others, there was nothing left in the tank. Gdovic cleared the field into one and Sample cleared Balluzzo going into three. Gdovic would drive away creating more than a five-second gap over the rest of the field. Balluzzo was able to get around Sample in the closing laps to secure second. Danny Harrell and Eric McPherson rounded out the top five.

“I wish Shawn could have been able to get up there so we could have battled a little more,” Gdovic commented in victory lane. “Not really sure how the bounty deal works but if they give it to us then great. It was really fun to come back home and race. Glad my dad let me help get a little race trim here and get things figured out. The PPM boys built an awesome car. I just have to thank them, my mom and dad, ComServe Wireless and WindStax for all the support throughout the years.”

Gdovic has been absent from Langley Speedway for a few years now dipping his toes in both the K&N Series along with a few races in the NASCAR Xfinity series before his most recent success in the Lamborghini Trofeo series.

“You have to compare this win in a different way,” Gdovic said. “This my Hometrack so it’s special on a different level to come back home after a few years and see familiar faces. Short-track racing on a Saturday night is some of the best racing is at every night.”

Balluzzo earned the right to lead the field to the green to kick of Pete’s Towing night after laying down a 16.356 (86.941 MPH) second lap. Gdovic, who was fastest all day in practice lined up to his right side. Jamie Sample, Danny Harrell, and Rick Gdovic made up the starting five. From the drop of the green flag, it was the Balluzzo and Gdovic show. Balluzzo was able to keep Gdovic at bay even after several solid shots to the rear bumper. Danny Harrell, rookie Grant Blasingame, and Eric McPherson rounded out the top five. Todd Whitesell, Rick Gdovic, and Peyton Ferree completed the top eight finishers to set the invert.

“It was fun I have to say that,” Balluzzo commented about the final ten laps of the first forty-lap feature. “Brandon did a great job. All of these guys are doing a great job they have got their game going on. I am having a harder and harder time every week staying ahead of them.”

Brandon and I have been bantering back and forth,” Balluzzo commented about the social media post coming into the weekend in regards to the bounty out for him. “It’s just all in good fun, I hope he realizes that. It was great out there tonight and I know the fans have got to be loving all this with all that’s been going on and its been getting more interesting.”

 

Larry King Law Modified Race 1 UNOFFICIAL Results;

  1. #48 Shawn Balluzzo; 40
  2. #64 Brandon Gdovic; 40
  3. #95 Danny Harrell; 40
  4. #7 Grant Blasingame; 40
  5. #16 Eric McPherson; 40
  6. #49 Todd Whitesell; 39
  7. #47 Rick Gdovic; 39
  8. #23 Peyton Ferree; 39
  9. #19 Bubba Johnston; 26
  10. #28 Jamie Sample; 25
  11. #98 Matt Morgan; 9
  12. #3 Brad Adams; 9
  13. #18 DJ Valente; 9

 

Larry King Law Modified Race 2 UNOFFICIAL Results;

  1. #64 Brandon Gdovic; 40
  2. #48 Shawn Balluzzo; 40
  3. #28 Jamie Sample; 40
  4. #95 Danny Harrell; 40
  5. #16 Eric McPherson; 40
  6. #3 Brad Adams; 40
  7. #47 Rick Gdovic; 40
  8. #7 Grant Blasingame; 39
  9. #23 Peyton Ferree; 39
  10. #49 Todd Whitesell; 39
  11. #98 Matt Morgan; 21
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