51 Leftovers: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Ace and Caraway Speedways By Matthew Dillner
Wrecks, Rules, Tires, Bumpers and Much More
QUIET KUIKEN VOCAL ABOUT INCIDENT WITH LW MILLER
About midway into the Caraway race, Rich Kuiken, Jr. took a whale of a ride into the front-stretch wall. Also collected in the incident was Tim Brown's #83. Although involved in the melee, LW Miller escaped unscathed and carried on to a seventh place finish.
Kuiken, a young rookie on the Southern Tour, was not happy as he and his team made repairs to roll his #98 into the trailer at races end. In particular they were not happy with LW Miller. One crew guy shouted “The Lethal Weapon strikes again” as they made repairs to the car.
Kuiken, a bit more reserved, explained that he felt he was dumped by LW Miller.
“We were running good, but it was getting a little loose on me,” said Kuiken. “It was around lap-60 and coming into the turn he gave me a little tap. He never even got a wheel under me. Coming out of four down the front-stretch he got impatient and turned me right into the wall. I was really surprised because I talked to him and he's a nice guy and everything. I didn't think he would do that to me. It broke the radiator and tore up basically everything on the right front, right side rub-rail and the rear end. It will make for a busy week.
“You would figure everyone would lay back for 100-laps or something. It's a 150-lap race and we still had 96 laps to go when he did that.”
Miller, who was the center of controversy after an incident with Andy Seuss a night earlier, said that he did not cause the Kuiken wreck either.
“There was speedy dry all over the racetrack,” said Miller. “The 98 (Kuiken) got loose and
chased it one way. Once again I was trying to just go by him and he came back across like he snapped it. I think he must have been doing the ol' snake going down the frontstretch. When he came across he was already heading to the wall. So I touched him, but I didn't wreck him.
JUNIOR MILLER LOADS UP AND GOES HOME BEFORE ACE RACE STARTS
At Ace, officials determined that Junior Miller's #69 car, a Puddin' Swisher entry had an un-approved part and was not allowed to compete in the feature event. The heads were deemed illegal by officials.
The #98 wasn't looking too good after its incident with LW Miller. (51 Photos)
Junior Miller didn't get to race his #69 at Ace.
“One of those deals down there that I really don't know,” said the laid back two-time Tour champion. “I guess the right number wasn't on the heads. The heads were legal but the right numbers weren't on them so they said we couldn't run. We leased that motor. We leased it and when you put it in the car you expect it to be right and I'm thinking it was right. It wasn't the right part number on the head though so we had to go to the house.”
Speed51.com also learned that when inspected by Tour officials, the intake manifold wasn't right on the #69 car as well.
Miller brought out a different #69 at Caraway but was collected in a wreck and finished 21st.
SILK HAD NOTHING, NOT EVEN A BUMPER LEFT FOR LW AT ACE
Ronnie Silk had an impressive run at Ace, resulting in a second-place finish. He had one shot at LW Miller on the green-white checker finish but literally didn't have anything for him.
“At that point in the race everyone's tires are shot,” said Silk. “You get in as hard as you can and you drive it sideways off. Luckily, we all kept it straight. I didn't have the car to do it. He was just better than I was. If I was going to do it, it would have to be in the center and I'd have to move him up because he was that much better than me through the center. I didn't have much of a bumper left to use up tonight.
“Tonight was great,” added the happy young driver. “Congrats to LW. I feel bad for Georgie [Brunnhoelzl] because he had a great car. Big thanks to Burt Myers too. He ran me real clean in those closing laps and was very courteous to me.”
At Caraway, Silk had a consistent night and ended up sixth at race end.
NO NET, BUT STILL NO WIN FOR FLEMING
Frank Fleming has yet to visit victory lane on the NASCAR Southern Tour; however, the veteran driver could have won a overall hard-charger award for the doubleheader weekend. At Ace of Friday he was so fast that… well… “We were running so fast we blew the window net plum out of it,” laughed Fleming. “The window net came down. It was the first time in 28 years of racing that has happened.”
Luckily as Fleming received the black flag, the yellow came out saving him from losing any laps. Frank charged hard from the back to finish ninth. At Caraway on Saturday,
Ronnie Silk's front bumper after the Ace race.
Fleming didn't have to make up as much ground, but aggressively fought his way to a third place finish.
“Last time at Caraway we saved up our car and tried not to use it up. I think the car was better tonight than that race even though we led it. Tonight I drove my tail off and the car stayed with me a lot better. We have made improvements with the car. Tonight it just looked like two or three cars were better than I was. If I had the car I had tonight fifteen years ago it would have lapped the field. It is so competitive on this Tour. I want to win worse than anyone wants it. You just have to keep diggin' and coming back.”
THE STREAK IS OVER
LW Miller won the first two races of the year, but he could not complete the hat-trick.
“We didn't have a great car tonight but we made the best of it, said LW with a smile. “You win two races in a row and you are pretty pumped up. You can't win 'em all.”
BRUNNHOELZL A SERIOUS THREAT BOTH NIGHTS
Everyone knows Georgie Brunnhoelzl III has enough talent to get it done on the
Modified Tour. After a disappointing season in 2007, Brunnhoelzl knows he has a lot
to prove this year. With a new car and outlook, things have turned around for the third-
generation driver. He had the car to beat at Ace before a throttle hung on the brand-
new #28 Troyer racecar. At Caraway, he was second most of the night until some
electrical woes limited his run to a fourth place finish. Still, it is a positive sign of
better things to come for the Long Island native.
“After Ace we came into Caraway with a lot of confidence, said Georgie. “We
practiced on oldtires and sacrificed a little for qualifying. We still qualified fourth. We
started third and got up to second. I started to ride there and tried not to burn up my
stuff too early. I never really pushed the car too hard. Not sure what it was but we had
an electrical mishap somewhere that was causing the car to backfire real bad. That
problem took us from second with a shot at the win, to fourth.
It feels great to know we are good enough to go for wins. Even with all the troubles we had to come out of Caraway with a top-five is great. It's been a while. After the season we had last year, this season is by far leaps and bounds better already. Knowing we are one of the cars to beat out there feels great. We are going to be hunting down wins here real soon.
THREE AVERAGE FOUR IN DOUBLEHEADER
Three drivers came out the best after the doubleheader weekend, all with average finishes of fourth between the two races. LW Miller won the pole and race at Ace but finished 7th at Caraway. Burt Myers finished third at Ace, and put the Dirty-South #1 on the pole at Caraway on his way to a fifth place run. Ronnie Silk's runner-up finish at Ace and sixth place run at Caraway earned him a fourth place average as well.
ANOTHER NIFTY STAT
LW Miller and Brian Loftin have been the only of the Southern Mod Tour gang to visit victory lane in the last five races the tour has held. The last winner besides the two drivers was Tim Brown at Southern National Speedway in September of 2007.
Positive camber might have resulted in a positive result for LW Miller at Ace. Looking at LW's car in victory lane, a few crew members huddled around the left-front tire pointing at it. The right side of the left-front tire had a defined strip a few inches wide with no wear on it. Amazingly, the strip wasn't even scuffed and you could still see the little hairs on the tire.
Although LW Miller was sort of sheepish about it in his post-race interview, he did credit it and his car's setup to a good northern friend.
“I have to drill a little plug to my buddy Tony Ricci up in Maine,” laughed LW. “Tony and I have been best friends for about five or six years. He runs the True Value Series up north as well as some PASS Series races here and there. He and I exchange notes about two or three nights a day about what we need to do, what we need to try and where we are going deer hunting in the fall. I told him where I have been struggling in the last couple of weeks and he got talking to me about our front end settings. We changed the front end on it and tonight my car would turn on the drop of a dime.
“It doesn't make any sense but Tony said to do it. He's still a pretty young kid so I always question him. He's a 25-year old kid but he sure knows a lot about racecars. He said to just try it and we did and it worked. We spent all day tightening up the racecar because it turned so good. We're working every week on trying something different. I bet we haven't won two races with the same setup in the car.”