Luke Fleming wins his first Southern Modified Tour

 

By Tommy Bowman

It would be hard to script a more memorable debut.

Luke Fleming, making his first start in NASCAR's Whelen Southern Modified Tour, pulled off a stunning victory in the crash-filled Advance Auto Parts 199 at Bowman Gray Stadium last night.

Fleming, recovering from being two laps down at one point, jumped from seventh place to the lead with 31 laps left after a nine-car pileup claimed the front runners.

He then held off George Brunnhoelzl III, the tour's points leader, and said that the victory couldn't have been sweeter.

Fleming had been suspended last week for the remainder of the season in Bowman Gray's weekly Sportsman Division after the car he was driving was found to have an illegally modified engine.

Fleming felt that he was unfairly penalized -- given that he wasn't the car owner -- and, having not been suspended by NASCAR, he decided to drive in last night's tour race in a car owned by his father, veteran Modified driver Chris Fleming.

He made a winning statement.

"It's kind of ironic," Fleming said. "If it wasn't for that (suspension), I wouldn't have won this… I've always known things happen unexpected and you just roll with the flow and see what happens. It definitely worked in my favor. I'm not going to call it all skill. I've been awfully lucky."

Fleming was joined in a post-race celebration by his father and his uncle, Frank Fleming, who got as high as second place last night before his car was involved in the nine-car pileup.

"I prayed the whole race," Chris Fleming said.

Luke Fleming, a 22-year-old Mount Airy driver who ran one full season in the stadium's Modified Division in 2006, said: "Pinch me and make sure this is real… This is unbelievable. It's like fulfilling a dream."

Only seven cars in the 20-car field survived until the end last night, and only three of those were in the lead lap -- Luke Fleming, runner-up Brunnhoelzl and third-place Gene Pack.

Brunnhoelzl started from the pole but lost the lead in the 23rd lap after a tangle with last year's race winner, Brian Loftin. He regained the lead in the 145th lap when John Smith, who led 105 laps, dropped out because of mechanical failure.

"I don't know if it was the fuel filter or what, but it started skipping," said Smith, a former weekly competitor at Bowman Gray. "I've had so many good runs here but finished second. And I believe this was the best car I've ever had here. It's disheartening… I had the car to beat, I think."

Brunnhoelzl's final lead was short-lived. He collided with L.W. Miller in a battle for the lead on the backstretch, triggering a pileup that crumpled several cars including Luke Flemings uncle. Luke Fleming, who had been helped by two "lucky dog" advancements to make use his lost laps, inherited the lead.

"I saw Frank and I wanted to know he was all right, with a car sitting on him and everything," Luke Fleming said. "I just tried to stay calm and not think about it once I took the lead. Daddy told me (over the radio) I better stay calm… I wasn't watching the rear view."

Brunnhoelzl kept the pressure on from that point, but Fleming had little trouble hanging on. "We came out of there second, I'll take it," he said. "We still have all four wheels kind of attached."

Brunnhoelzl's car was damaged a bit, but he said: "(Fleming) had a good enough car I wasn't going to get around him unless I turned him around and I wasn't going to do that… We might have had a little bit better car than him, but track position here is everything. I'm not going to turn somebody to win a race.

"Congratulations to him. That's great. To win your first tour race, that's pretty impressive."

Luke Fleming said: "I was just trying to play conservative all night. Daddy has a lot of hard work and money in this car… The car was perfect all night. It never changed."

Kyle Edwards led all the way in a 40-lap race for the Sportsman Division and picked up his second victory of the season. Steven Berrier finished second and Gary Ledbetter third.

Ledbetter extended his lead from 16 to 22 points over defending champion Ronnie Clifton in season standings for the Sportsman Division with two event dates remaining.

Joseph "Bobo" Brown won a 20-lap race for the Street Stock Division. Glenn Hamilton won a 15-lap Stadium stock race.

 

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2009 Points Standing

NASCAR Race Number 6

Unofficial Race Results For The Advance Auto Parts 199 - 08/01/2009

Bowman Gray Stadium - Winston-Salem , NC - 0.25-mile paved oval

Total Race Length 78 K - 199L - 49 M Purse: $24,806

Fin Str Car Driver Team Laps Points B/Points Total Award Status

1. (19) #13 Luke Fleming Jerry Hunt Auto & Truck Sales Chevrolet 199 180 $2,000 Running

2. (1) #28 George Brunnhoelzl III Oval Speed/ Fibrwrap/PT Ford 199 170 1,500 Running

3. (15) #31 Gene Pack Clubhouse/Wings-N-Things Chevrolet 199 165 1,125 Running

4. (14) #36 L.W. Miller John Baker Plumbing & Utilities Pontiac 197 160 1,050 Running

5. (20) #97 Bryan Dauzat O.B. Builders Chevrolet 192 155 1,550 Running

6. (16) #71 Dean Ward * Bibs Downtown Restaurants Chevrolet 189 150 1,000 Running

7. (7) #40 Frank Fleming Jerry Hunt Auto/Pro Health Center Pontiac 169 146 800 Accident

8. (5) #5 Randy Butner Tucson/Angel Clean Chevrolet 168 142 730 Accident

9. (3) #23 Brian Loftin L & R Transmissions/QMF Metal Solutions 167 138 990 Accident

10. (4) #14 Bobby Hutchens Team Texas Driving School Chevrolet 167 134 600 Accident

11. (12) #49 Scott Rigney Scott's Custom Cab./BAM Enterprises Chevrolet 160 130 575 Accident

12. (2) #1 Burt Myers Capital Bank Ford 151 127 550 Running

13. (10) #25 John Smith Tutterow Surveying/Rick's Home Improvement 145 124 540 Fuel Pump

14. (8) #47 Andy Seuss Advance Auto Parts/Q Racing Oil/Stuart Auto 141 121 535 Running

15. (18) #21 Tommy Neal Hunter Motorsports/Affordable Septic Chevrolet 116 118 530 Radiator

16. (17) #44 Rich Kuiken Jr. Flowmasters Testing & Balancing Chevrolet 96 115 525 Accident

17. (6) #4 Jason Myers Capital Bank/Moorefield & Trantham Ent. Ford 80 112 520 Accident

18. (11) # 02 Buddy Emory RCS Construction Chevrolet 69 109 510 Transmission

19. (9) #18 Zach Brewer DMC Auto Exchange Chevrolet 27 106 500 Handling

20. (13) #72 Brent Elliott Back Country Water Stoves Chevrolet 21 103 490 Accident

RACE STATISTICS

Fastest Qualifier: Brian Loftin, Time: 13.597 Seconds, Speed: 66.191 mph

Time of Race: 1 hrs., 16 mins, 10 secs Average Speed: 39.190 mph Margin of Victory: .397 Seconds

Caution Flags: Laps 22-25 (72 spins in Turn 2); 28-34 (47 hits wall in Turn 1); 56-63 (97 & 44 spins in Turn 2); 72-76 (02 stalls on track); 80-87 (13,1 get together in Turn 2; 14 & 4 also involved); 125-127 (97 spins in Turn 3); 146-149 (25 falls off pace); 162-166 (49 & 71 got together in Turn 4); 168-173 (14, 5, 40, 44 all got together on the backstretch); 176-178 (36 spins in Turn 2). 10 for 53 laps.

Lap Leaders: George Brunnhoelzl III 1-27, John Smith 28, Burt Myers 29, John Smith 30-34, George Brunnhoelzl III 35-38, John Smith 39-63, George Brunnhoelzl III 64, John Smith 65-72, George Brunnhoelzl III 73, John Smith 74-75, George Brunnhoelzl III 76-77, John Smith 78-83, George Brunnhoelzl III 84, John Smith 85-87, George Brunnhoelzl III 88, John Smith 89-127, George Brunnhoelzl III 128, John Smith 129-144, George Brunnhoelzl III 145-166, L.W. Miller 167, Luke Fleming 168-199.

Total Laps Led: John Smith 105, George Brunnhoelzl III 60, Luke Fleming 32, L.W. Miller 1, Burt Myers 1. 20 changes involving 5 drivers.

CONTINGENCY AWARDS

COCA-COLA MOVE OF THE RACE: Bryan Dauzat, 97 O.B. Builders Chevrolet

COORS LIGHT POLE AWARD: Brian Loftin, 23 L & R Transmissions/QMF Metal Solutions Chevrolet

FEATHERLITE "MOST IMPROVED DRIVER": Bryan Dauzat, 97 O.B. Builders Chevrolet

SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE RACE: Dean Ward *, 71 Bibs Dowtown Restaurants Chevrolet

Top 10 Driver Points: George Brunnhoelzl III 985, Andy Seuss 919, Brian Loftin 891, Frank Fleming 877, L.W. Miller 862, Burt Myers 862, Jason Myers 810, Gene Pack 789, John Smith 759, Buddy Emory 753

Next Race: Aug. 19 - Bristol Motor Speedway

* Denotes Sunoco Rookie of the Year Contender

 

SPORTSMAN DIVISION 20-LAP RACE (unofficial)

Driver (Hometown) Money

1. Kyle Edwards (King) $560

2. Steven Berrier (Germanton) 360

3. Gary Ledbetter (Lexington) 280

4. Tommy Neal (Walkertown) 220

5. Daniel Beeson (Kernersville) 190

6. Ronnie Clifton (Walkertown) 245

7. Barry Edwards (Pinnacle) 150

8. Derek Stoltz (Walkertown) 130

9. Scott Hall (Walkertown) 110

10. Steve Holleman (WSalem) 100

11. Taylor Branch (Lewisville) 90

12. Kenny Bost (Kernersville) 80

13. Robbie Brewer (Winston-Salem) 70

14. Mike Evans (King) 60

15. Jeff Garrison (Winston-Salem) 50

16. Steve Truell (Midway) 50

17. Michael Adams (Yadkinville) 50

18. David Sell (Winston-Salem) 50

19. David Adams (Yadkinville) 50

20. Shaun Cockerham (East Bend) 50

21. Kevin Neal (Walkertown) 50

22. T.J. Moran (East Bend) 50

23. Bryant Robertson (Lexington) 50

24. Keith McMichael (Belews Creek) 50

25. Mitch Gales (Thomasville) 50

STADIUM STOCK A DIVISION 15-LAP RACE

Driver (Hometown) Money

1. Glenn Hamilton (W-Salem) $105

2. Johnny Burke (Midway) 80

3. Jason Keaton (Mocksville) 55

4. A.J. Quakenbush (W-Salem) 45

5. D.J. Moore (Germanton) 40

6. Dale Barneycastle (Mocksville) 35

7. Chris Lawing (King) 30

8. Jimmy Absher (Rural Hall) 30

9. Kenny Dixon (Pfafftown) 30

10. Andrew Sanders (Mocksville) 25

11. Chris Allison (Mocksville) 25

12. Wayne Hill (Kernersville) 25

13. Robert Mabe (Winston-Salem) 25

14. Adam Baker (Winston-Salem) 20

15. Gary Brewer (Germanton) 20

16. A.J. Sanders (Mocksville) 20

17. Gerald Robertson (Germanton) 20

18. Ted Mickalowski (Mocksville) 20

19. Kevin Hedgecock (Thomasville) 20

20. Rob Young (Winston-Salem) 20

21. Derek Taylor (Yadkinville) 20

22. Ray Forrest (Winston-Salem) 20

23. T.J. Cox (Winston-Salem) 20

24. K.C. Myers (Lexington) 20

 

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2009 Points Standing

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