Brian Loftin and L.W. Miller Take Top Honors In WSMT Finale
Drama-Filled Season Ends In “Dramaless” Caraway Race
The scene was set Saturday night at Caraway Speedway (NC) in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour season finale. L.W. Miller, by claiming five wins at the track earlier this season, placed himself in the points lead over Tim Brown heading into the final event. All Miller needed was a solid finish to take the championship, but season-long tension between Miller and Burt Myers had everyone watching and waiting to see if Myers would enact retaliation and knock Miller out of the race and the championship. Also, Brian Loftin made his way to victory lane the last time the racers hit the track, and looked to play out as one of the strong contenders once again.
Brian Loftin went two for two in the final WSMT 2007 season races at Caraway Speedway. (51 Photo)
The tension was high and the drama off the charts.
When the checkered flag flew, many wondered what happened to the drama. Brian Loftin jumped to the lead early and cruised to the win while Miller and Myers raced each other clean. Brown rolled around the track in second position doing everything he could to take the title from Miller, but a sixth-place “championship mode” run by Miller gave him the series title.
The hype building up to the final race of the season ended up being a snoozer event, possibly the most uneventful race of the Southern Mod Tour this year. Still, all the drivers did what they had to do and at the end of the day a race winner and champion were crowned.
Loftin’s dominating victory helped back up his win at Caraway the race before.
“It probably looked easier that it was,” said Loftin. “The car was absolutely hooked up. The guys have worked their tails off all year and we finally got a package that works well on this new car. There is absolutely no shortage of horsepower under the hood either. This thing is awesome. I haven’t ever felt a motor like this. Ever since we brought this new car out it has been unbelievably quick. Hopefully we can keep this momentum up to next year and have a championship run.”
Behind Loftin, Brown did what he could to try to win the race and the championship, but came up one position short on both agendas, which was frustrated the driver.
“We just got loose,” said Brown. “We used the car up early trying to get to the front and I couldn’t get to him (Loftin). It was almost wrecking every lap there at the end and I was just holding on. This is the only race track that we struggle at and I suck here. I don’t know that it ain’t just me. These guys work their guts out and I try to drive my ass off. I just can’t figure this frickin place out, and the thing is that we come here so many frickin times. If we are going to run six or seven times here we need to get better, and that is the bottom line.
Burt Myers was never a factor Saturday night. (51 Photo)
“Congratulations to Brian. He did a hell of a job here at Caraway. He has found something here that is just awesome. Congratulations to L.W. as well. He has won five races here, and that gave him the championship. That is almost half of our races that he won here. Once you win that many, you deserve to win the championship.”
One point of potential drama occurred near the mid point of the event when Miller came up to the rear of Myers, whose Modified wasn’t handling quite the way he wanted. Miller and Myers gave each other plenty of room and never made contact as Miller went by for the position.
“Burt and I had our deal earlier this year,” said Miller. “We have gotten together a few times since. I knew when racing against him tonight I had to mind my Ps and Qs and he would do the same, so that is what we did. We all are hard racers and we all know how hard it is to get to this point. I appreciate him racing me clean the way he did. I appreciate everyone racing me clean the way they did.”
While Myers has been quite vocal this season about Miller’s driving, he wasn’t about to cause issues in the championship tour event.
“If you move a man to win a race that is one thing,” said Myers. “To knock a man out of the way just to aggravate him is another. The last thing I was going to do was to knock a guy out of a championship. Now if I had to put the bumper to him a bit to win the race that is just good short track racing.”
Once he passed Myers, Miller just hung out the rest of the race, crossing the line in sixth as the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champ.
“We had a good race car,” explained Miller. “I didn’t come here to run sixth. I wanted to win, but circumstances the way they were drawing eighth, I would have had to jeopardize myself a few times to make the moves that would have got me to the front, so I got in a safe place and just hid. I knew that is what I needed to do to win this championship.
L.W. Miller did what he needed to win the 2007 WSMT Championship. (51 Photo)
“For me as a driver I wanted to win the race, but for Baker Motorsports and all the people that sponsor us, they deserve to win the championship and I didn’t want to be the one to pull a dumb move and cost it for us. I just rode the last two races to win the championship and that is what I had to do.”
If the championship wasn’t on the line, many felt Miller would have dominated the final two events at Caraway like he did earlier in the season.
Not necessarily, according to Miller.
“I am not going to take any glory away from Brian in the last two races because they have done a superb job,” said Miller. “They definitely have their car working excellent. They were actually pretty good earlier this year up here. He had some bad luck races, but I think he ended up second to me one race and another we were battling for the lead. Could I say I would have beaten him if we were not points racing? Sure, I can say that all day long, but the truth is he had a great race car and I don’t know if I would have had anything for him or not.”
Winning races and championships are not new to Miller. Over the years, he has been able to snag multiple wins and championships in different Modified touring series, but this one, his first NASCAR championship, is extremely special to him.
We won five races this year and the championship. Next year we will try to come back and win more races and another championship.
“This first NASCAR championship means a lot,” said Miller. “I won the SMART Tour Championship in 2003 and then the ASA Tour Championship in 2004. We have been racing with the same group of guys, but to do it under the NASCAR banner, it is the ultimate.
“We won five races this year and the championship, so now we can go back to winning races and doing what we want to do.”