Myers Ready To Defend 2010 Title
Whelen Southern Mods Kicks Off With Caraway Spring Classic
By Tim Southers, NASCAR
March 7, 2011 - 1:57pm
Burt Myers finally captured the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship last year, and while he has enjoyed an offseason of celebrating his first NASCAR Touring title, the Walnut Cove, N.C., driver knows everyone has turned the page to the 2011 season and this weekend's Spring Classic 150 at Caraway Speedway.
The third generation driver is ready to defend his title, and said this is the most relaxed he has been since he began competing on the tour in 2005.
"We expect to have a target on us, because if you don't, you are not running good. We want to get out of the gate with some good runs and we know people are going to be gunning for us because we won the championship," Myers said. "It also takes the pressure off of us now since we know we can win a championship."
Myers will begin his title defense with basically everything the same with his No. 1 Capital Bank/Patterson's Hot Dog Chili Ford. The entire crew, his sponsors and entire support group is back for 2011. He starts at a track he knows he must get a handle on if he wants to be the first driver since Junior Miller in 2005-06 to win back-to-back titles.
“Caraway has been our Achilles' Heel through the years,” Myers said. “We have been able to qualify pretty well, but we haven't been able to turn that into wins at the end of the race. With six of our races being held there this year, we have got to finish better there than we have over the past several years if we hope to win another trophy.”
This weekend's race kick starts the 14-race season that will feature races held in four states with the season-ending event held at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October.
L.W. Miller, the 2007 champion who finished second to Myers last year, returns to challenge for his second crown, and to add to the Tour record for wins he shares with Brian Loftin at 11. Miller (No. 36 Speedco/John Baker Plumbing Pontiac) finished 31 points behind Myers last year for the crown.
Another driver that has knocked on the door of a title over the past two seasons has been Andy Seuss. Seuss (No. 44 Crane & Rigging Chevrolet) has enjoyed a lot of success at Caraway and has to be one of the favorites to win the Spring Classic 150 after winning two of the three races held at Caraway a year ago, both flag-to-flag.
Several other drivers will be ready to go after the win at Caraway, including John Smith (No. 25 Grady Tutterow Surveying/Rick's Home Repair Chevrolet), who picked up his first career win on the tour last July at Caraway. Loftin (No. 23 L&R Transmissions Chevrolet) and a much improved Zach Brewer (No. 11 Triad Auto Sales Chevrolet) will also be two drivers expected to challenge Myers.
|Place||Caraway Speedway, Asheboro, N.C.|
|Date||Sunday, March 13|
|Time||3 p.m. ET|
|Track Layout||.455-mile banked paved oval|
|2010 Winner||Andy Seuss|
|2010 Polesitter||Burt Myers|
|Track Schedule||Saturday: Practice 11-11:45 a.m., Qualifying 2:30 p.m.; Sunday: Autograph session 1:15 p.m.|
|Track PR Contact||Renee Hackett (336) 629-5803, firstname.lastname@example.org , Twitter: @carawayspeedway|
|NASCAR IMC Contact||Tim Southers (386) 235-3634 email@example.com|
Race: This event marks the beginning of the 2011 season for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. It is the first of six visits to Caraway Speedway this season, with the track also hosting events later this month and in consecutive months from July through September.
Procedure: The starting field is 26 cars, including provisionals. The first 23 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining three spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 150 laps.
Track: Caraway Speedway is a .455-mile banked oval that many consider the "home track" for the southern tour. This will be the 32nd race held at the track, by far the most of any track on the 2011 schedule.
Records: Qualifying: George Brunnhoelzl III, Apr. 11, 2009, 103.987 mph, 15.752 sec.; Race: Junior Miller, Sept. 9, 2006, 90.977 mph, 44 minutes 31 seconds.
Record-setting start: Jason Myers (No. 4 Capital Bank/Wendell Edwards Ford) and Frank Fleming (No. 40 Jerry Hunt Auto & Truck Centers Ford) will add to their records for the most starts on the tour when they take the green flag in the Spring Classic 150. Each driver has started 71 of the 72 races held in the history of the tour since its inception in 2005.
Keeping track of the changes
New teams: Several drivers will be returning to the tour this season albeit in new rides. Andy Seuss moves over to drive for Bryan Fishel and Mike Norman is now a teammate of Gene Pack.
Third generation arrives: Austin Pack, grandson of Gene Pack and son of the late Brian Pack, will keep the family tradition alive as he will compete this season on the tour with Gene.
Welcome back: After sitting out the 2010 season to concentrate on his studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Rich Kuiken Jr. will return to the tour this year. Kuiken last competed on the tour full-time in 2009 and has 25 career starts.
Look who's coming down: A pair of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champions plan to attend the Whelen Southern Modified tour season opener. 2008 champion Ted Christopher - a three-time Caraway winner - plans to participate in the first two Southern Tour races of the year while 2003 titlist Todd Szegedy is slated to make his first appearance at Caraway in the opener. Both teams are based in Connecticut.
Last Year's Event
Andy Seuss scored an impressive victory at this event as the Hampstead, N.H., driver was able to pass Burt Myers on the first lap and remain out front the rest of the way for the victory.
The win was the seventh for Seuss overall and third at Caraway. While he led every lap, Seuss' plan was just to stay near the front.
Seuss' No. 47 Q Racing Oil/Rockingham Boats Dodge sailed through the first third of the race before the first caution flag of the race flew on Lap 46 when Brad Robbins spun on the backstretch.
L.W. Miller was able to eventually get by Myers into second place and was able to challenge Seuss at times for the lead. Several late cautions benefited Seuss, who had a better car on cooler tires than Miller.
Miller was closing in on Seuss when the final of four caution flags for the race was given on Lap 132 after Bryan Dauzat and Brad Robbins both spun in Turn 2.
The late restarts enabled Seuss to remain out front and eventually score the win over Miller. James Civali finished third and Brian Loftin and Zach Brewer completed the top five.
Up Next: Caraway 150
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour returns to Caraway Speedway for the Caraway 150 on Saturday, March 26 at 8 p.m.
The second race of the year at Caraway in 2010 saw veteran driver John Smith pick up his first career tour win. This will be the second of six visits to the speedway this season.