SMT LEFTOVERS: CARAWAY RACE #3 by Matthew Dillner
Crammer vs. Smith, Loftin Starts, TC spins, Score One for the Old Guys, the Myers Boys & More
THIRD TIME IS A CHARM AS LOFTIN TAKES THE GREEN

The mystery of Brian Loftin’s woes is solved.

For the first two weeks of the Southern Mod Tour Season Brian Loftin's #23 machine hadn't made it to the green flag. A mystery problem had prevented the #23 from starting each race.
Brian and the crew were pretty confident they had the problem solved before the race but admitted they were still nervous.

“I think we have pulled about all our hair out and we've re-wired the car twice,” said Loftin before the race.  “We have replaced everything ignition related. I think we found a ground problem. I am still going to have my fingers crossed when we take the green flag tonight.”

Loftin finally made it past the green flag. It took him until the third race, but as they say, the third time's a charm. Loftin's third Tour race past the green flag proved fruitful with a third place effort.

Loftin was all smiles after the race. 

“It's a big improvement ain't it?

And Myers noted that if things aren't going well, you may see him chomping away in his racecar. But sometimes the gum doesn't get chewed.

“Last week we won and I didn't use it. I looked down at the car when we got it back to the shop and was surprised that the gum was still taped in there. Usually when the car isn't handling too good you find stuff to do and you remember your gum.”

The gum taped in his car is just another reason why Burt Myers is one of the more colorful characters on the Southern Tour.

“I had everything crossed. I would have crossed my legs if I could have reached the pedals.

“Everything worked out great. I think we have a real good start now to build off of. Spotting them those two races isn't easy but we will be back.  We've learned a few bugs we've got to work out running behind these boys. We are about two races behind these boys and to come and run in the top-three, we are pretty happy with that. We will go back and work on it a little more and will be even better when we come back."

STICKY SNACK THE KEY FOR BURT MYERS?

Before the drivers pulled their cars out on the track at Caraway for the autograph session, Burt Myers was swiftly walking to his #1 car with two foil wrapped pieces of gum in hand. Why?

“I was going to go tape some gum in my car.”
“Sometimes in the beginning of a race you run till that first caution say 20-laps into the race. And you'll realize what you've done is you've got a piece of gum in your mouth that you haven't been chewing. You've been driving with your mouth open. So everything gets sticky and the gum is plastered to the top of your mouth.”

The whole gum thing in the car... that comes from a story Daddy told me about putting a water bottle in the car. He put the bottle in the car and it fell out before he got a chance to drink any water. So no more water bottles, so I tape the gum in the car instead of water. Since I remember racing we've always taped a piece of gum in the car.”
Brian Loftin's #23 flanked by Ted Christopher's #79.  (51 Photos)
FOR HEDGECOCK...THIRD WEEK OF ENGINE WOES HURTS

Everyone else on the Southern Mod Tour gave another sigh of relief at Caraway. That is because the man that clearly is one of the fastest cars, had engine problems for the third straight race.
Burt sticks his sticks of gum inside his racecar before each race.
The problems have Hedgecock very frustrated.

“We've been having motor problems,” said Hedgecock.  “We had problems the first week. Then the second week, the kill switch we run on the steering wheel shorted out. I lost 25 laps that night and we still had a skip in the motor. We thought it was the carburetor.  So this week, it skipped, a intermittent skip in practice. Even though we sat on the pole, it did it both laps qualifying.

“When we started the race, it was missing. It got worse and worse and worse. Sometimes it felt like it was running on five or six cylinders.
“We wound up getting shuffled back to forth. And we later found out that when they worked on the motor the week before, they didn't tighten up the spark plugs. All eight spark plugs were basically two rounds away from falling out of the motor.

“It's just one of those things that got overlooked. It was an aggravating night because I knew I could beat them if the motor would run.”


UNUSUAL BREAK HAS “BROWNIE” PUZZLED

Tim Brown unloaded his beautiful new Haye's Jewelers #83 for only the second time this season. And boy was it fast. Brown was in third much of the night until something unusual happened to his new racecar. Sparks could be seen coming from the bottom of the #83 and it was evident that Brownie had his hands full.
“The car was the car to beat the first 30-40 laps of the race,” said a baffled Brown. “Then all of the sudden it just gave up. I was like 'dang man, we missed the setup again.’ We struggled and finished fifth with a car so loose I could barely drive it. They said 'man something is dragging.'

“We came in and they jacked the car up and it broke the frame. I mean it broke the frame. This is a brand new '05 racecar and it broke the freaking frame.

“I don't understand how we didn't wreck the thing. I mean it beat the sheet metal, the driveshaft, the transmission, the frame and body. It beat everything up in there. It's crazy. It's a brand new racecar in its second race we've got with it. I don't know what the deal is. The cross member to the torque arm in the racecar broke and that knocked everything over into the driveline. It kind of messed up my new racecar real bad.

“We're going to have to start all over again I guess.”
BURT HAPPY WITH HIS PERFORMANCE

Burt Myers won race number two at Caraway and looked to have this race wrapped up as well.  But Junior Miller's late race charge put an end to the repeat hopes. Myers, who wasn't driving the same car he won with last week, was happy with the run.

“We were bringing this car out in the dark,” said Myers. “To come down here and do what we did, I am proud. We came here earlier in the week and blew the engine in the primary car. We pretty much threw this thing together to make the race. We had a hell of a racecar and got beat by someone who had a better racecar. To come down here after that and get a second makes me pretty happy. Not satisfied, but happy.”
FOLEY DROPS FROM POINTS LEAD

Jay Foley, who has been one of the most consistent cars over the first two weeks of the Tour, fell on some hard times at the third stop at Caraway Speedway. His #57 didn't look as strong as usual until a late-race charge. But it was too little, too late for Foley, who settled for a seventh place finish.
“We had a pretty good car and got shuffled to the back early in the race,” explains Foley. “We got back up to fifth at the end and had a shot at getting a few spots. But we pushed the car so hard it got loose. We ended up losing a few spots. I'm glad to come home seventh with as bad a night as we had. We've run something different all three times we've been here, so maybe we can look at that and figure out what to do for the next race.

With Junior Miller's victory, Foley dropped to second, four points behind Miller in the standings.
CRAMMER SEES HOPE FOR WIN COME CRASHING DOWN

For the second straight week, Jersey-racer Brian Crammer was flying. He paced himself much of the night, and at races end, the #89 was on rails. But during his charge, incidental contact with Frank Fleming sent Crammer into the wall hard and ended his night with a disappointing 18th place finish.
Fleming felt bad for what happened with Crammer.

“I got a run on the outside of the Crammer boy,” said Fleming.  “I don't think he knew I was there and he came up the track. I hate it that he tore his car up. Luckily it didn't hurt mine too bad. It just bent up some wheels but we kept going. That is what spotters are for and evidently his wasn't quick enough.”

VETERAN FLEMING SAYS THE OLD GUYS CAN STILL DO IT!
Frank Fleming was happy at the end of the race. Not only was his #07 one of the cars to beat at Caraway. But in a sport where pubic perception says that youth rules, his run and Junior Miller’s win bodes well for the veterans of the Tour.

“Junior got by me on the restart and I have to congratulate him and that team,” said Fleming “Junior was terrific tonight. He's one of the older drivers out there just like me. Neither one of us has won in like two years. Now that he has won, I told my boys maybe our shot turn will be next. Older drivers can win races.”
TC CAN'T WIN 'EM ALL

Northern-invader Ted Christopher, who marched in and stole the season opener, didn't have the same result during race three. Christopher and the Hillbilly Racing #79's struggles started before the green flag even dropped.
Frank Fleming ready to rumble. (51 Photos)
Everybody was following TC in practice at Caraway. (51 Photos)
“I think this is about two weeks in a row that I think we had them covered because everybody wants to run balls-to-the-wall and burn their tires off,” said a charged up Crammer.  “I was running 13th early in the race, hanging back and with 20-to-go, we were the fastest car on the track.

“We got underneath the 23 (Brian Loftin) coming off of turn two. He got real loose and I checked up. By the time I checked up and went up a groove, the 07 (Fleming) was beside me. It was a racing accident and you can't point fingers at anybody. It's just a shame it happened. I just really think we could have gotten those guys at the end. They were just so out of control loose.”
Fleming started off the night strong before fading when the handling went away. He still finished 11th.

JASON MYERS WHEELS HIS ARMS OFF

Jason Myers had such an ill-handling race car at Caraway, that it hurt... literally.
“My shoulder is bothering me pretty bad,” said the younger of the Myers brothers. “When you're racing you don't notice it.  But when the caution came out I knew my arm was pretty sore and cramped up.  I guess I just didn't realize it and didn't try and work it out.

“The bad cramp is a direct result of having to absolutely wheel it for 150 laps. I don't know if we got a bad tire or what? We had more motor this week than we are used to. We tried to tighten the car up to compensate for it a little. I think our car started getting loose earlier than anyone.”

Despite the ill-handling car, Myers finished 12th.
“The left rear tire went flat before the start,” said Christopher.  “So then we pitted and wanted to put a tire back on and we wanted to put a good one back on and they wouldn't let us put the good one on. That was a used one we put on. The stagger was off. That just ended up working the right rear tire too much and that just killed the right rear. Nothing like a three-legged racecar.

“Can't win them all.  It sucks when you get a flat tire like that because right from the start it's not really apples-to-apples racing. You're sitting there with a tire that has 50 laps on it and the stagger is all messed up. You just take what you can get for it.”

SMITH WRECKS AND CRAMMER DOESN'T FORGET

Both Brian Crammer and John Smith had wrecks take them out of contention during race three on the Tour. The two drivers got together on the backstretch and Smith was not happy with the outcome.
“This week I had a real good car,” said a frustrated Smith after his 20th-place finish.  “I was passing, or at least trying to pass that Crammer boy.  I was on the outside of him. I guess he just turned right, or his spotter said something.  I don't know.  They have to get together because I was halfway up on him.

“I just got on the outside of him and he just put me in the fence.”

Crammer admitted he was to blame for ending Smith's night.
“I probably would point the finger at me.  But I don't have amnesia either and he ended my season two years ago, so I don't feel bad at all,” said Crammer after the race, referring to an accident between the two at the North-South Shootout two years ago.

“Sure he can point the finger at me. He was on the outside and I knew it. I chased the car up the track a little bit and just got into him a little bit. Like I said though, I don't feel bad about it.”

CLIFTON POINTS OUT STIFF COMPETITION

Michael Clifton closed out his third race on the Southern Tour with what he considered a sub-par performance. But really when you come to think of it, leaving Caraway with a ninth-place finish and fifth in the standings isn't too bad.

Clifton's car wasn't great but as he points out, this competition is enough to do anyone in.

“We didn't have too good of a night,” said Clifton. “When we come back in July and we will be better.

“A good example of how tough it is though out there is Teddy Christopher. He got spun and couldn't do anything and get back up front. It's good competition out there.”

TC SPINS AFTER MILLER'S BUMP

Several observers of the race at Caraway cringed when they witnessed Ted Christopher's spin on Saturday night. In the center of turns one and two, Junior Miller tapped the #79, and around went Christopher. But TC wasn't mad about the contact at all.
“I was just too loose,” admitted TC.  “He knew, he's been doing this a long time and knew just what to do. He just got me right in the center of the turn when I was pivoting. It only needed to blow on itself to spin out. No big deal. I knew how loose I was.”

Miller went on to win after the contact and also said that it wasn't a dump.

“He just spun the tires a little bit,” said Junior. “He had done that two or three times when I would get under him. He would pull me on the straightaway a little bit. He spun the tires and I drove on underneath him. I didn't back off. I drove her down in the corner there and we touched a little bit and went on.”

TC finished 10th at races end.

(EDITORS NOTE: Speed51.com will have more stories on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour throughout the next few weeks as the series takes off for a while.)



John Smith had the flu in race number-two, and was sick after race number-three because of the incident that took him out of contention.. (51 Photos)
Ted Christopher was the favorite going into the race but ended up 10th. (51 Photos)
Jason Myers had a new motor in his #4. (51 Photos)
(Top Photo) Tim Brown's new #83 car.
(Bottom Photo) The broken chassis under the #83 after the race. (51 Photos)
Jay Foley has been super consistent. (51 Photos)
Brian Crammer's night ended up on the hook of the Caraway tow truck. (51 Photos)
Hedgecock's car has been fast, but he has had mechanical problems each week.