“I haven’t been good here for a while,” said Myers. “I’m not complaining though, we came home in one piece and came home in seventh. This is just one of those tracks that we just can’t get around. This track is a horsepower track and we’re not a horsepower team. We’re a handling team. We’re trying, though.”
Myers tried playing the patience game early in the race. With leaders Tim Brown, Andy Seuss and Jason’s brother Burt racing hard at the front of the field, Jason decided to let those boys play while he saved his tires for the end of the race. That strategy played off
NASCAR SOUTHERN MOD TOUR LEFTOVERS: CARAWAY by Matthew Kentfield
Close Points Battle, Troubles for the Meyers and other Previous Winners
SMT POINTS BATTLE DOWN TO THE WIRE
Recent bad luck for season-long points leader and defending NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion Junior Miller have made this years SMT points battle a lot closer than it seemed it would have been just a few weeks ago. With on-track troubles at Martinsville, Ace and in the most recent race at Caraway, Miller is no longer atop the points standings. Tim Brown has been the pillar of consistency throughout the summer and now leads the series championship by two points over Miller.
Myers gave up the lead to Fleming on the backstretch on lap 29, seemingly moving over to let the veteran and last week’s winner at Ace Brian King by.
“I pretty much let them go. He (Fleming) and the 17 (King), I figured they’d pretty much come back to us. I was running the 17 down before the caution. I knew I could get him, but I didn’t know if I could get any more or not. I was sitting there thinking top three right there, but I went into the corner and it just went sideways.”
After settling in third, Myers found himself with two options. With a car that was ill-handling, he could have either raced it hard to get the most positions possible,
Brown and Miller are the only two with legitimate shots at the championship as the series heads to Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) this Saturday night. There will be two races remaining after Hickory, so the points battle will come down to the final events at Southern National Speedway (NC) and Motor Mile Speedway (NC).
Junior Miller was involved in a mid-race incident caused when eventual race winner LW Miller made contact with J. Wesley Swartout between the first and second turn. Nine cars stacked up behind them, including Miller’s #69. The damage from the skirmish forced Miller to come to his crew’s attention, thus losing a lap that was difficult to recover from. Miller finished
Junior Millers. (51 Photos)
Burt Meyers being interviewed in Pre-race ceremonies.
Jason Meyers on track at Carraway.
“I was just trying to race them and I didn’t have no place to go,” said Miller about the incident that put him out of contention. “I tried to stop, but I got hit in the back and we all piled up. The caution came around for us and we got our lap back. I was running about four cars down, we were going to gain a couple more spots, but the caution just came out at the wrong time for us at the end.”
On the flip side, Tim Brown won the Bud Pole, his fourth straight SMT pole, and raced amongst the top-five all night long to finish third. Brown took over the points lead, but the title is not what is most important to the Cana, VA driver. He would have rather have been standing where LW Miller was on Saturday night at Caraway instead of talking about the championship after finishing third.
“I can’t figure this deal out,” said Brown. “We come out here with a great racecar, and I say ‘okay, I’m just going to ride.’ We ride and we still get freakin’ beat. Last race here, we ran hard and we got beat. We’re still working on it, but I don’t know.
“I get down and I guess I should be happy, but hell, I come to win. I don’t come to run second and I don’t come here to run third. I guess it’s a great night and I should be jumping for joy because Junior had bad luck and I gained some points, but the hell with the points. I want to win. If you win, the points will take care of themselves.”
JASON MYERS LOOKING FOR A BREAK
Jason Myers is another driver that comes to the racetrack to win. Seventh-place finishes like the one he scored at Caraway look good on paper, but Myers still was not satisfied with his showing at Caraway. Then again, Myers wasn’t particularly expecting to set the world on fire at Caraway, one of the tracks that he and the team of his #4 machine have been struggling at recently.
“We were really hoping to have a good run after last week after we won,” said King. “We’ve been fighting this track since we first came here this year. We’ve been here five times this year and the last three times we’ve had a second, a fifth and a fourth, so we’ve been there. We just keep missing it.
“Tonight, the stagger grew and I’ve got about an inch more than I needed, so that was the culprit tonight I think. We were all over it, but it was just a little discouraging after you win. We’ll keep plugging along. It was a good points night and I think some of the guys got new tires near halfway, so that kind of hurt us. I got everything I need to run in the top-five and win races, so that’s what I came here to do.”
early, as Myers raced just behind that group, but he didn’t quite have the track position necessary to get higher than seventh at the checkered flag.
“I rode there for a while and watched those guys running hard up front and I was just hoping that they’d run off their tires. I knew our car was so tight that we couldn’t wear the car out. I knew that we would be good at the end and we were. The track position was just so bad.’
BURT HAS FRUSTRATIONS OF HIS OWN
In the opening laps of Saturday night’s race at Caraway, fans were treated to some of the hardest racing the SMT has provided at the track in recent weeks between front-row starters Tim Brown and Burt Myers. Brown got out to the early lead, but Myers eventually tracked him down and the two raced bumper-to-bumper for several laps for the top spot. Eventually Myers gave Brown a little nudge from behind on lap 22 to take the lead, only to relinquish it to Frank Fleming on lap 29. Myers went on to finish 10th.
“I was comfortable in second and Tim was riding, but he was riding down in the straightaways,” said Myers. “I about ran over him twice, so I had to pass him. I got into him a little bit, but after being up front I didn’t want to run that hard and faded back a little bit and just saved my stuff. I had a car there at the end that was capable of the top-three easy. I don’t know if we’ve got a rear-rend problem or what, but on that last restart the car just started to fade and we dropped back.”
but at the same time risk disaster. Or he could have just raced smart, not pushing any harder than his car would let him. Myers chose the latter.
“As a driver, when you feel like you’ve got a right-rear going down, the last thing you want to do is barrel off down into the corner. We started to come in, but I could still feel like we had a problem because of the way the car was acting, but the car . So I was trying to figure out whether to come in or not. I just decided not to run any harder than I had to because I didn’t want to tear up my racecar.
“Last couple times here we’ve been real bad, but tonight we had a top-three car and a car that was capable of winning the race. That car hadn’t run at Caraway in 10 years, so we’re getting there.”
ACE WINNER CAN’T BACK IT UP
There is no greater feeling than winning a race. That’s a given in mtorsports. But perhaps the only thing that’s better is being able to prove that a win was not a fluke by backing it up with another win in the next race. Fresh off his victory in the SMT’s most recent race at Ace Speedway, Brian King came to Caraway with sights set on a repeat victory.
King had been good in recent trips to Caraway this season, but once again the car’s handling was not what he wanted it to be in order to go for that second-straight win. King wound up finishing fourth.
King was another driver that tried to take it easy at the start of the race. He let the drivers that wanted to race hard do so, instead choosing to save his car. Even with drivers using different strategies on the racetrack, King was appreciative that the guys that ran hard did not cause any major incidents on the racetrack – especially one that could have collected his #17 car.
“We were racing a little harder than I wanted to race. I know Frank (Fleming) is a veteran, so I kind of watched what he did and I felt like he was running too fast of a pace. So I kind of just turned him loose, let him go and found someplace to ride. Then around lap 90 it started to get loose in and I could tell that if I didn’t start saving tires, I was going to run out there at the end. I was hoping for no cautions to let my strategy hopefully pay off.
“The cool thing about these guys, both the younger guys and the veterans, is that you can race side-by-side and you don’t have to worry about too much like jumping tires. It’s respectable stuff. I really don’t worry about that.”
HUTCHENS PUZZLED WITH ILL-HANDLING
Bobby Hutchens had a pretty good day Saturday leading up to the Southern Modified Tour race at Caraway. The Vice President of Competition at Richard Childress Racing had found out that his driver Clint Bowyer had won the NASCAR Busch Series race that afternoon at Dover. Hoping to capitalize on the motivation that Bowyer provided, Hutchens set out to run a patient race at the start at Caraway. Instead, Hutchens’ #14 machine did not want to cooperate late in the race and the Lexington, NC driver came home 12th.
“We started off and jumped out into the top-six and we were just riding,” said Hutchens. “I thought I jumped out to a good lead on the seventh place car and thought we would ride around lap 100 to 110 and then we would just go, but we had a caution there around lap 80. We were sixth in line and man, the car just quit. I don’t know why. We were just a little tight up to that point, so I never dreamed that would happen. It wasn’t like we buzzed the wheels or anything.
“I killed the right-rear tire for some reason. She’s cooked. We tried to take care of it through the first part, knowing that we needed to have it at the end. I guess that’s what discouraging. We weren’t really pushing the car very hard.”
SEUSS TRIES A NC/NH DOUBLEHEADER
In the old days of Modified racing, it was nothing for teams to race in multiple places on one weekend – towing through the night to make the next show even if it was several states away.
These days, things like that aren’t nearly as common as racecars and teams become more specialized and the costs of traveling have gone through the roof. But occasionally, you’ll still see some of that old sprit shine through and that is exactly what the #70 Rockingham Boat/Manchester Urology team of Andy Seuss set out to do this weekend.
On Friday morning, Seuss’ team of family and friends realized that their racecar was ready to go for a race or two, so they decided on a whim to head to Saturday night’s NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour event at Caraway Speedway (NC). By Friday evening, they were loaded up and headed south from their New Hampshire shop.
“We did not plan on going down to Caraway until 11:00am on Friday,” said Seuss. “To convert the car to NASCAR rules, we had to change the body, change the headers, change the lead [weights] and a whole bunch of other stuff before we left. We also had real work to do. I did not get out of work [as a boat technician] until after 3:00 PM. A lot of the guys were not over there until 5:00 PM or so. We worked real hard and got the car ready.”
“The car was just a rocket ship. It turned right up on the bottom. It came up just a little short of the pole, but I never thought that I was going down to shoot for a NASCAR Whelen Modified South pole. We redrew third. I started there and was running third until Tim Brown and Burt Myers were getting into it a little bit. I tried to get around both of them and they came down on the track on me and I went back to fifth. That was fine with me, because I was really saving the car. This was one of the best cars that I have ever driven. That car was unbelievable. It is too bad that it overheated. We had to come in. The guys worked real hard.”
Seuss finished 19th at Caraway, but as soon as the checkered flag flew, he and the #70 team trucked to New Hampshire, only to get rained out. The Lee TVMRS race will be made up October 21st and 22nd.
Bobby Hutchens's good day didn't go as planned.
Previous race winner King couldn't get the job done at Caraway.