George Brunnhoelzl III Dominates Season Opener
NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Season Off To Heated Start
ASHEBORO, N.C. – Independence Day may still be a few months away, but the fireworks were at Caraway Speedway on Saturday night.
A restart shortly after the halfway break set up a battle at the front of the field, one that left Andy Seuss' car both out of contention and destroyed. Contact with L.W. Miller's machine as the two tried to make advances on eventual winner George Brunnhoelzl III, left both crews fuming with one another and plenty of hot tempers on a warm spring night.
And it was only the first of two consecutive races at Caraway to open the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour season.
“We are really, really fortunate to be teamed up with Ideal Racing and Eddie Harvey, to be able to come back with another car next week,” said Seuss, who won a pair of races at Caraway last season in the No. 11. “I don't know if we'll fix this car. I don't know if it will ever be another car again. I don't know what the future is (for it), but we'll be back with a red No. 11 next week and we're going to be even better.”
Brunnhoelzl was on the inside of the front row, with Seuss to his outside and Miller behind them in third as the field raced through Turns 1 and 2 on the Lap 95 restart. Contact sent sparks flying, and Seuss' car hit the outside wall hard with the right front.
In Seuss' mind, it was clear what had happened.
“I just got hit a ton from behind,” Seuss said. “From everybody I've spoken to, (Miller's) wheels were turned right. Not shocking. You know, he used to be good, and he's hanging on now. That's fine. It's just a shame for this car. It's such a good car here.”
“Every restart, he was on the inside of me,” said Miller, who ended up third. “(Seuss) drove into me and ran me up the racetrack. So I told my guys, 'I'm going to hold my ground.' I didn't drive up into him and run into him – when he went to chop me off, my right front was in his left rear and it sent him. I mean, he wrecked himself.
“I don't know how they can be so upset, when every restart before that whenever he was on the inside of me, he would drive into the side of me. Don't really care.”
Seuss exited his car and ran all the way along the track to confront Miller, who was parked on the frontstretch with the field under the red flag following the incident. Crew members from both teams had to be separated by officials in the infield.
Car owner Howard Harvey was emotional in Victory Lane, even as he celebrated the win by Brunnhoelzl.
“It's a shame what happened with Andy tonight,” Harvey said. “With that piece of crap that drives the 88, what do you expect? He's messed with the wrong people.”
Jason Myers had perhaps the best seat in the house, riding along right behind the involved parties, but he was willing to say it was a racing incident.
“I understand why they're mad, because their race car is so torn up so bad,” Myers said of Seuss. “L.W. didn't wreck him. L.W. might have got into him a little bit, but L.W. didn't wreck him. I may be completely wrong. L.W. might have turned the steering wheel hard right, gassed up and wrecked him on purpose – but it didn't look like it from where I was sitting.
“It's so hard to tell. The racetrack is so slick on the bottom and with us switching right side tires, I think everybody's front ends were giving up a little bit. L.W. might have slid up into him a little bit, but L.W. didn't look like wrecked his race car. He slid up into him in the center of the corner. That's just racing.”
Seuss, who holds aspirations of being in the championship hunt come season's end, drove all the way from 12th on the starting grid to challenge for the lead before Lap 100. It made the sting of the lost opportunity hurt worse than any physical pain he may have suffered in the actual crash.
He believes he could have won on Saturday night.
“The car was just that good,” Seuss said. “These guys gave me such a good car that it wasn't going to matter (where I qualified). These races have kind have turned into between us and (Brunnhoelzl). We're Ideal Racing teammates, and that's what it was going to be.
“I don't know that I was better than him, but I know I had a lot more left in the car to try and beat him.”
Race: NWSMT Caraway 1 3/31/12
|1||1||9||George Brunnhoelzl, III||Phoenix Pre-Owned Chevrolet Chevrolet||150||48||5||Running|
|2||4||4||Jason Myers||Trantham Moorefield/Wendell Edwards Ford Ford||150||42||Running|
|3||3||88||L W Miller||Tax Sleyer/Speedco Chevrolet Chevrolet||150||41||Running|
|4||6||44||Brandon Ward||Clemmons Speed Shop/Hire's Automotive Chev||150||40||Running|
|5||14||25||John Smith||Shady Grady Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet||150||39||Running|
|6||13||79||Daniel Hemric *||Hill Enterprises/Coors Light/LeBleu Water Pont||149||38||Running|
|7||9||23||Brian Loftin||QMF Metal & Electronic Sol/L & K Trans Chevrolet||149||37||Running|
|8||5||1||Burt Myers||Adams Towing/Citrusafe Ford Ford||149||36||Running|
|9||19||33||Gary Fountain *||Andy Petree Racing/Race Car Engineering Chevrolet||149||35||Running|
|10||18||1||Rich Kuiken||Flowmasters Testing & Balancing Chev Chevrolet||148||34||Running|
|11||10||2||J R Bertuccio, Jr||Gershow Recycling Chev Chevrolet||148||33||Running|
|12||7||65||Danny Bohn *||Rifenburg Construction/Rustoleum Chev Chevrolet||146||32||Running|
|13||2||02||Tim Brown||Hayes Jewelers/T&C Motorsports Chev Chevrolet||144||31||Running|
|14||11||40||Frank Fleming||Jerry Hunt Auto & Truck Sales/Adams Towing Ford||142||30||Running|
|15||17||9||AJ Winstead *||Clark American Sanders Chevrolet Chevrolet||124||29||Running|
|16||23||80||Michael Speeney *||UNC Charlotte Motorsports Chevrolet||96||28||Engine|
|17||12||11||Andy Seuss||Phoenix Pre-Owned Chevrolet Chevrolet||94||27||Accident|
|18||16||48||Jonny Kievman||A Best Forklift Chevrolet Chevrolet||94||26||Accident|
|19||22||37||Joe Scarbrough *||Hyperion Stud Chevrolet Chevrolet||87||25||Accident|
|20||24||12||Mike Norman||Auto Solution Mag/Perfection Exhaust Ford Chevrolet||79||24||Accident|
|21||21||77||Gary Putnam||Stock Car Steel Chevrolet Chevrolet||78||23||Suspension|
|22||20||97||Bryan Dauzat||O B Builders Inc Chevrolet Chevrolet||78||22||Radiator|
|23||15||7||Thomas Stinson||Cowardin Jewelers/United Solar Chevrolet Chevrolet||77||21||Accident|
|24||8||51||Kyle Ebersole *||Ebersole Excavating Inc Chevrolet Ford||40||20||Suspension|
Fastest Qualifier: George Brunnhoelzl, III, Time: 15.807 Seconds, Speed: 103.625 mph
Time of Race: 1 hrs., 6 mins, 53 secs Average Speed: 61.226 mph Margin of Victory: 0.236 Seconds
Caution Flags: Laps 2-6 (#23 spins); 29-31 (#9 spins); 33-35 (#01 spins); 40-42 (#33 spins); 53-55 (#9 spins); 75-77 (80 spins and half way break); 81-86 (#12 spins); 89-99 (#33 spins went back to green on lap 94--did not complete a lap--#11, 40, 48 wreck --red flag). 8 for 37 laps.
Lap Leaders: George Brunnhoelzl, III 1-150.
Total Laps Led: George Brunnhoelzl, III 150. 0 changes involving 1 drivers.
Top 10 Driver Points: George Brunnhoelzl, III 48, Jason Myers 42, L W Miller 41, Brandon Ward 40, John Smith 39, Daniel Hemric * 38, Brian Loftin 37, Burt Myers 36, Gary Fountain * 35, Rich Kuiken 34
* Denotes Rookie of the Year Contender