Former Champ Back On NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour
Tim Southers, NASCAR
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. As the 2011 race season gets closer to starting, one car owner in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour is about to have a two-year idea come to fruition and make the division even more competitive.
Eddie Harvey, car owner of the #11 Phoenix Pre-owned/Shane Hmiel Race to Recovery Chevrolet driven last year by Zach Brewer, will field a second car this season with 2009 NWSMT champion George Brunnhoelzl III behind the wheel. This will be somewhat of a homecoming for Brunnhoelzl III, who has 42 career starts on the southern tour with six wins and seven poles.
I am so excited about our team for 2011, said Harvey. We were happy with the effort Zach gave us last year and we got a pair of pole awards and had some good finishes. We had the opportunity to bring George on and I think this will make us even better going into the season.
Brunnhoelzl III won the championship during a dream season driving his family-owned car with his father, George Brunnhoelzl Jr. turning the wrenches to help his son cruise to the title. Last year, the Brunnhoelzl's had the opportunity to compete in the Whelen Modified Tour full-time something both men dreamed of doing since both are native New Yorkers.
Dad and I enjoyed running the Whelen tour up North last year, Brunnhoelzl III said. We thought about it and decided when the opportunity came to go back and run the southern tour that we would and it just so happens that Eddie was looking to add a second team and it worked out well for everyone.
The relationship between the Harvey family and the Burnnhoelzl family goes back over 25 years and that connection helped make the decision that much easier for everyone involved. The new partnership almost became a reality for Harvey and Brunnhoelzl prior to his championship season in 2009.
The timing just wasn't right at the time to field two cars back then, Harvey said. When we realized we could make this happen this season, George was the first driver we thought of for this addition.
Although some drivers might not like having a teammate, Brewer is ecstatic over his new team situation for this season.
I see nothing but great benefits for all of us on the team, Brewer said. I think adding George and the wealth of knowledge he and his dad have on these cars will only help us all run better. The doors are open between all of us and I can't wait to get back racing.
Brewer enjoyed an up and down season in 2010 with the Winston-Salem, N.C. driver winning his first two Coors Light Poles and finishing in the top five a total of four times and finishing a career-best sixth in the final point standings.
I feel we peaked a little too soon last year and then we went through some ups and downs, Brewer said. I had some pretty good success in NASCAR Touring series when I ran the Dash series years ago but they were a different type of car than the modifieds. Having George bringing over his experience with these chassis and setups will only help us get better.
For Brunnhoelzl, he realizes equaling his 2009 numbers would be difficult to do no matter whose car he drives. For now he wants to win races, be a good teammate and most importantly have fun.
I don't know too many of us that car race full-time so this has to be fun, Brunnhoelzl III added. I think this is the best situation dad and I could have returning the southern tour. I can't thank Eddie and Howard (Harvey) enough for this new opportunity.
The team will field cars with the Nos. 09 and 11 with Brunnhoelzl driving the No. 09 Phoenix Pre-owned/Triad Auto Chevrolet and Brewer piloting the No. 11 Phoenix Pre-owned/Shame Hmiel Racing to Recovery Chevrolet.
Harvey added that both drivers will compete full-time on the Whelen Southern Modified Tour with Brunnhoelzl III tentatively scheduled to also compete in selected Whelen Modified Tour events at Thompson and Loudon later this year and also during during Daytona Speedweeks at New Smyrna Speedway.