Loftin dominates at Stadium to win Advance Auto Parts
By Tommy Bowman/ JOURNAL REPORTER
Brian Loftin finished last night what he wasn't able to complete last year.
Loftin led all the way to win the Advance Auto Parts 199, leaving behind memories of a late-lap crash while trying to pass for the lead in last season's NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race at Bowman Gray Stadium.
The victory was the second of the season for Loftin on the Southern Modified Tour and eighth of his career. It was his second win at Bowman Gray Stadium, which tied his father, Bobby Loftin, on the track's all-time victory list. Loftin's other win at Bowman Gray came in 1999 in the stadium's Modified Division.
"We knew we had a good race car, but after a few laps we knew no one could touch it," said Loftin, who held off runner-up Burt Myers in the closing laps. "This thing was on a rail."
Loftin, from Lexington, had a shot at victory in last year's tour race at Bowman Gray. But he finished in a tangle with Frank Fleming while trying to pass for the lead with five laps left.
"This definitely helped make up for that," Loftin said. "We were able to cash in."
Myers, who won last year's tour race at the stadium and also won in 2005, began pressuring Loftin a bit with 30 laps left, but Loftin had enough to inch away. And Loftin held on after a final caution and green-white-checkered restart that extended the race length to 202 laps.
"It seemed like every wreck had to happen right in front of us and we had to drive through it," Loftin said. "I hated to see every caution because our car wasn't that good for about the first three laps but after that I don't think anybody could touch it."
Myers said: "He was better than me in the corners…. I was hoping I had a shot at him at the end, but I probably tried a little too hard and overshot the corner on the restart. Brian was strong and the draw is such a big deal at a place like this. At Caraway, it's not that big of a deal because you've got plenty of room. Him drawing the pole helped him a lot, but I don't want to take anything away from Brian. He had a very strong car."
Loftin, who was seventh-fastest in qualifying Friday night, started from the pole position as result of a draw for starting order. He pulled away at the initial green flag, leaving behind outside pole sitter Brian King.
King, trying to hold on to the second spot heading into the first turn on the opening lap, got in a tangle with L.W. Miller.
Miller, the defending Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion, had to restart at the rear of the 26-car field and later lost a lap as result of a penalty for rough driving.
Miller recovered to finish eighth and held on to his lead in the season standings, although Loftin cut his deficit from 36 to 11 points heading into the tour's next race on Aug. 22 at Caraway Speedway.
Myers, the fastest in qualifying, started fifth but jumped to second with aid of the collision between King and Miller.
One of 11 caution periods triggered some fireworks when Jay Mize clipped Jonathan Brown and sent him sailing into the guardrail. Brown retaliated during the caution period and slammed into Mize, disabling both cars with less than 50 laps left.
Before last night's race, 81 balloons were released by drivers in memory of Brian Pack -- a regular competitor in Bowman Gray Stadium's Modified Division as well as on the Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Pack, who drove car No. 81, died in a motorcycle accident on July 25.
Whelen Southern Modified Tour
Note: Ran 202 laps because of cautions (green-white-checkered rule).
1. (1) #23 Brian Loftin, Lexington , N.C. , Chevrolet, 202 laps, $2,000.
2. (5) #1 Burt Myers, Walnut-Cove , N.C. , Ford, 202, $1,800.
3. (7) #83 Tim Brown, Cana , VA. , Chevrolet, 202, $1,325.
4. (8) #14 Bobby Hutchens, Lexington , N.C. , Chevrolet, 202, $1,050.
5. (15) #47 Andy Seuss, Hampstead , N.H. , Dodge, 202, $1,000.
6. (12) #18 Zach Brewer, Winston-Salem , N.C. , Pontiac , 202, $950.
7. (24) #25 John Smith, Mount Airy, N.C., Chevrolet, 202, $1,050.
8. (3) #36 L.W. Miller, Mooresville , N.C. , Pontiac, 202, $690.
9. (16) #44 Brandon Hire, Winston-Salem , N.C. , Chevrolet, 202, $590.
10. (21) #72 Brent Elliott, Denton , N.C. , Chevrolet, 202, $550.
11. (19) #02 Buddy Emory, Petersburg , VA. , Chevrolet, 202, $525.
12. (11) #7 Thomas Stinson, Chester , VA. , Chevrolet, 202, $500.
13. (14) #70 Al Hill, Jonesvillle , N.C. , Chevrolet, 198, $485.
14. (13) #07 Frank Fleming, Mount Airy, N.C., Pontiac , 194, $460.
15. (18) #69 Junior Miller, Pine Hall , N.C. , Dodge, 176, $445.
16. (2) #17 Brian King, Burlington , N.C. , Chevrolet, 173, $430.
17. (20) #98 Rich Kuiken, Jr., Staffordville , N.J. , Chevrolet, 170, $420.
18. (6) #4 Jason Myers, Walnut Cove, N.C., Ford, 152, $410.
19. (17) #8 Jay Mize, Clemmons , N.C. , Chevrolet, 176, $400.
20. (4) #53 Johnathon Brown, Winston-Salem , N.C. , Dodge, 151, parked, $390.
21. (25) #49 Scott Rigney, Mount Airy , N.C. , Pontiac , 151, handling, $380.
22. (22) #31 Gene Pack, Myrtle Beach , S.C. , Chevrolet, 151, electrical, $360.
23. (23) #5 Randy Butner, Pfaffton , N.C. , Chevrolet, 151, accident, $340.
24. (10) #71 Dean Ward, Winston-Salem , N.C. , Chevrolet, 31, engine, $320.
25. (9) #28 George Brunnhoelzl, Babylon , N.Y. , Ford, 29, engine, $300.
26. (26) #99 Kevin Powell, Winston-Salem , N.C. , Ford, 4, engine, $300.
Time of Race: 1 hours 21 minutes 35 seconds
Margin of Victory: .234 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: B.Myers (67.725 mph, 13.289 seconds)
Caution Flags: 11 for 69 laps.
Lead Changes: 0 among 1 drivers.
Lap Leaders: B.Loftin 1-202.
Standings: 1. L.Miller, 648; 2. B.Loftin, 637; 3. T.Brown, 583; 4. B.Myers, 578; 5. F.Fleming, 562; 6. A.Seuss, 559; 7. J.Myers, 542; 8. B.King, 534; 9. B.Hutchens, 497; 10. B.Hire, 495.