Tim Brown Dominates Calm Southern Mod Race at Southern National by Jason Buckley
Tension Eased By Fast Speeds And New Track Surface
Over the last few events in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified tour, the tension has been building. Contact on the track between some of the higher-profile drivers have caused multiple spins, angry words and threats of retaliation.
Heading into the newly-repaved Southern National Raceway Park (NC), eyes were on Burt Myers and Junior Miller to see who was going to enact retaliation on L.W. Miller for recent issues, and L.W. Miller to see if his front bumper would be used to move someone out of the way and into victory lane. Those that were looking for controversy were disappointed as the 150-lap event came and went with very little action as Tim Brown dominated the event for his second win in 2007.
Tim Brown won his second race of the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. (51 Photo)
“This is the same race car we dominated at Ace (Speedway) with,” said Brown. “We figured out now the feel I need the whole night to be competitive in. We found it at Ace and we found it here. That is what we need to have.
“I hate that our crew chief Phil Moran couldn’t be here. We miss him and this win is for him. He was up working in Loudon. Phil has been the one to help us get that feel, so we know what to do when he isn’t here. This is awesome.”
The run to the checkered flag for Brown started with practice and qualifying. Unloading fast off the truck, Brown knew he was going to be the one to beat when the green flag flew.
“I knew in practice we had a real good race car,” said Brown. “I thought from the tire wear and the speeds that we were running that we would have a hot rod tonight. Man, we were awesome. Our guys worked hard. We were good right off the truck. All we did was rubbed on it and fine tuned it.”
While Brown timed in fifth in qualifying, it was the veteran experience of Frank Fleming and Junior Miller that pushed them to the top of the charts as the two fastest qualifiers. Fleming now holds the new track record for the Modifieds at Southern National.
“Our car ran real good in practice,” said Fleming. “We were probably top five of the times that were turned in. My car was getting loose after running for a bit, so we talked about it and tightened that thing up a little bit before we qualified. This is an impound race and you have to race with what you qualified with. We thought it would hurt us, but it really helped us I believe.
“I have probably several track records in qualifying. About eight or nine years ago I was the man in qualifying. I won a bunch of poles like how some of these younger drivers are. Today the old men took over. Junior (Miller) was on the outside pole and I was on the pole. It is probably the experience we have on these fast high-banked tracks. My car was really running good and we made the right call for qualifying.”
Junior Miller was fast in qualifying and the race. (51 Photo)
Junior Miller couldn’t help but smile after being one of the two fastest cars in qualifying, but downplayed the age factor.
“It takes a real good race car,” said Miller. “It doesn’t matter how old you are. If you have the right kind of race car it will sit on the pole. Both of us had really good race cars and that showed.”
After the redraw, Fleming started the race from the fourth position while Brown was fifth and Junior Miller was seventh. All three drivers made their way towards the front of the field, and by the 10th lap, Fleming took over the race lead. His lead was short lived though as Brown made his move to the top spot at lap 32, dropping Fleming to second with Junior Miller in the third spot.
The rest of the race all three drivers put gaps between themselves and checked out from the field. For 118 laps, the top three positions didn’t change as Brown went on to win the event ahead of the two series veterans.
To many, Brown won a very anticlimactic event. In Brown’s opinion, he was happy there wasn’t much drama due to the speeds they were turning Saturday evening.
“I love to go really fast,” said Brown. “This track will separate the men from the boys. I was concerned for everybody’s safety going in because you never want to see anybody get hurt. We were hauling the mail here so if there would have been a pileup here I feel like someone would have got hurt. I feel like the good Lord was with us tonight and nobody got hurt.”
Frank Fleming (left) and Tim Brown (right) were all smiles heading into the race.
Second place is first loser in the minds of many, but for Fleming, he was happy with his solid showing.
“Our car ran great in the race tonight,” said Fleming. “Tim was just exceptionally well tonight. We were good, but he was a little bit better. I am just proud of what we have been able to accomplish with this car. If we keep running second we are going to win one of these nights.
“Any time you outrun Junior Miller in a 150-lap race you know your car is running good. These top 10 or 12 cars in this tour are tough. These boys are really something and they are a class act. These teams really know how to work on these cars and it is a competitive field.”
Junior Miller also felt the same way. Although his name has been mentioned in some of the on track scuffles as of late, he was happy to bring his car home in third position without too much on track fanfare.
“We had a real good race car,” said Miller. “In the beginning we jumped out there to the front quick, but around halfway it got a little loose. We had a real good clean race tonight. We were all racing for the win and didn’t have any problems, so that is what it is all about.”
New Surface Translates Into New Track Record
Due to the resurfacing of Southern National, the track record for the Southern Modifieds at the facility was shattered by all 17 drivers in attendance. The old track record was 14.971 seconds (96.186 mph), but Frank Fleming’s fast lap of 14.025 seconds (102.674 mph) buried that time. Earl Baker was the slowest in qualifying with a 14.746 second lap (97.654 mph), below the old track record by over two tenths.
L.W. Miller Finishes Fourth Despite Brake Trouble
L.W. Miller thought he was going to have a better day, but brake problems forced him to finish fourth. (51 Photo)
It’s a bad sign when a few laps into a 150-lap race, a driver’s car has a brake rotor glowing red.
L.W. Miller started off the event strong, but brake issues from the start of the event forced him to just log laps until the end of the event, finishing fourth on the day.
“We had a good car in qualifying,” said Miller. “We qualified third and redrew second. I thought we had a decent car but I really didn’t know what I had.
“I wasn’t real happy with the car from the get go. We had a right-front brake caliper hang up from the start of the race, so that amplified our problems. The whole race we were pretty much just hanging on. I was hoping they were going to drop off in the end because I knew our car wasn’t going to get any worse, but it wasn’t going to get any better.
“Tim had a great race car. Junior and Frank had great race cars. We were just hoping their cars would give up and they didn’t. It was pretty uneventful, but Baker Motorsports has put a great car underneath of me this year. We missed the mark a little bit here today, but we will be back at Caraway next week and put it in victory lane.”
Qualifying Snafu Frustrates Burt Myers
Burt Myers has been strong this season during time trials. Very rarely does the familiar #1 Modified not cross the line as the fastest qualifier. However Saturday when qualifying concluded, Myers was slotted eighth fastest, something he felt was incorrect and a mistake by the timing and scoring system.
Earlier in the qualifying session scoring did not pick up Jay Foley’s Modified, so they stopped his lap and had him re-qualify late in the session. While Myers did get his first lap clocked in, his second lap was in question.
“The first lap I about busted my tail,” said Myers. “I got in way too hot and we had it too free to qualify. I gathered it back up, and the second lap they didn’t put on the scoreboard. So when I came in and stopped I asked the official. He said ‘they didn’t get it up top, but we got it’. Well, when Foley’s lap didn’t get counted they gave him two more laps. They told me I ran a 14.11. I wasn’t going to argue the point because that is what I assumed about what I ran. So I backed up and got back in line and went to where they wrote it down and it said a 14.31.
Burt Myers is used to being the fast qualifier, but that didn't happen Saturday at Southern National. (51 Photo)
“I am not going to mention any names, but I asked somebody who was in the tower at the time what happened. They blamed it on the scoreboard operator. They said it was her first time doing it. He said she hit the wrong button and it froze up the timing system. Well, that is a red flag right there. If it froze up the timing system, how did they get my second lap? It was said that she had to calculate what my time was. What do you have to calculate? It is either black or white. So we asked if she calculated it right, and the answer was ‘yes’. We asked if the time was right and we got ‘don’t ask me’.
“Everybody in the pits, including myself, knows that I ran faster than that. How fast I don’t know. I had a competitor’s crew chief pass me and ask me if I was on the pole and I said ‘no way, they put me at a .31’. He said ‘you didn’t run in the .13s?’, so I would have been at least front row.”
After qualifying, the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour officials had a 10-car redraw for the top 10 positions, so Myers’ true time didn’t matter, unless he was fast qualifier. However, Myers was upset over the situation that he claims has happened many times this year.
“The sad thing is that we put up with this on a weekly basis during the summertime, conjuring up numbers out of nowhere and popping them up on the scoreboard. We are above that. We are better than that on this tour. If one of them missed it and made a mistake, stop everything and put me to the back and give me two more laps like they did for Foley. Don’t just shoot me through the line and say I ran a .31. It is not fair to me, my team and all of our guys that work hard.
“We have fourteen poles this year so I can’t complain too much, but it would have been good though to know where I really was.”
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified officials declined to comment on the situation to Speed51.com.
Jason Myers Looking For A Little Good Luck
The 2007 racing season has been one that Jason Myers might want to forget.
Just about every race Myers enters, something goes wrong. Whether it is a mechanical issue with the car or an incident on the track, bad luck is something Myers has had plenty of.
After having a strong practice, and a fast first lap in qualifying, the day went downhill in a hurry for Myers.
“We slipped a little qualifying,” said Myers. “We went up on the air pressure like the normal tires we run and it didn’t seem to work with these. My first lap qualifying put me sixth and I had a good shot at the pole on the second one if the car wouldn’t have come around.
“In the race we were kind of riding, waiting for the cars to start singling out and our motor went. This is the fifth motor we have had let go this year. I sure don’t have any luck. Something happens all the time, like today.”
Despite a year to forget, Myers has tried to stay positive for himself and his team’s morale.
“You have to keep your head up. Of course I threw my little temper tantrum after the race, but it didn’t do me any good. You have to keep your teams’ heads up even when things are bad. If you show up in a bad mood you aren’t going to race good. I feel like if I don’t keep my head up I cannot expect them to. You have to keep everybody straight.”
Thomas Stinson Has Great Night In Modified Double
This season, Thomas Stinson decided to try something new. He moved out of his IMSA car to the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour to take on the challenges of a different type of Modified racer. He has spent most of the season learning the cars and how they behave, and that paid off Saturday as had his best Tour finish of sixth place.
Besides racing his Whelen Modified for the 150-lap event, Stinson also raced a 50-lap event in the Rolling Thunder Modified race, bringing that car home to a second-place finish.
“Anytime you can bring both of the cars home and put them on the trailer without damage the day is alright,” said Stinson. “We had our best finish in the Whelen car and would have been pretty good in the #4 (Rolling Thunder Modified) car too, but my crew chief left it up to me on the setup because he had to work on the Whelen car all week and didn’t have time to mess with this one. He said if I changed the springs, changed the shocks and put a gear in it he will bring it. I can’t blame anybody but myself, but it is not bad for us. It is a good night.”