Brian Loftin Wins Advance Auto Parts 199 From the Pole by Matthew Dillner
Emotions, Good, Bad and Ugly Highlight Bowman Gray Weekend
“It’s hard to shake me up behind the wheel. I’m not trying to brag or anything. It takes a lot to rattle me. They were going to have to beat me to beat me. The only thing I was worried about was that it took a few laps for our car to really come in. I just had to make sure I got enough heat in the right rear so it would turn.
“For somebody who doesn’t come over here regularly and run it says a lot for our cars and our team to come over and get this win. Especially when you have Burt and Tim right behind you at the end, running second and third to you, because those guys have their stuff together here. They are tough. If you beat them you have done your homework.
For Loftin, the win was even sweeter because he was so close to the triumph one year before.
Two things proved to be key to winning the Advance Auto Parts 199 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race for Brian Loftin. First, was the luck of the draw. Yes, Burt Myers won the pole, but it was Loftin who started at the point after the post qualifying re-draw for starting position. The other key was the initial green flag, which would be the only double file start of the race. Loftin used it to jump out to the lead and never look back for the big Tour win.
“We knew we had to have a good start,” said Loftin. “I got a good clean start. I don’t know what happened behind me (lap-one wreck with LW Miller and Brian King) but I knew I had to get on the button fast and get through the gears quick.”
Loftin put it on cruise control for a good portion of the 199, with Stadium veterans Burt Myers and Tim Brown in tow. Besides some controversy and wrecks behind the leaders, the race was virtually a snooze fest. Loftin had it easy until a late race caution put the 199 into overtime. The crowd buzzed as they expected Loftin to get a late race bumper from Myers when the race resumed. When the green waved however, Loftin extended enough of a margin to remain untouchable.
“They kept telling me on that last restart ‘Don’t even look in that rear-view mirror’ and you will pull away from them. We just had such a great racecar. I know Burt and Tim are standup enough of guys and clean racers that they won’t drive in there four car lengths too deep and turn you around so if you can stay one or two car lengths ahead of them they are going to race you clean and like they want to be raced.”
Burt Myers, a two-time 199-winner was disappointed that they couldn't keep the win in the family. (51 Photos)
BREWER’S SURVIVES “GLORY HOLE” FOR GREAT RUN
Zach Brewer made his return to the NASCAR Southern Mod Tour and made a good return at that. Brewer was fast but exuded a veteran’s calmness, staying out of the craziness to end up with a strong sixth place finish at “The Madhouse.”
“You just have to ride and be patient here, take care of your racecar and be there at the end,” said a happy Brewer. “This place is like 75 percent circus and 25 percent just riding it out. It’s a spectacle. People like rivalries and being close to it all. You got a good show tonight. You don’t have the rivalries and the fight to win anywhere else like you do here. They call it the Glory Hole for a reason and that is what it is.”
MYERS FAMILY 199 STREAK ENDS
The Myers have owned the 199 Mod Tour race at the Stadium. Burt won the inaugural event, brother Jason won it in 2006 and Burt took last year’s trophy. This year, it was close but no cigar for the Myers clan.
Jason Myers was a contender but dropped out early when an axel broke on his family owned #4. Burt finished second, but could not find a way to beat Brian Loftin.
“If I could have started on the pole and dictated my own pace I could have won the race,” said Burt. “Trying to follow Brian’s pace here and there and running different lines to make an attempt to get around him, it just made my car worse. Brian had one heck of a racecar tonight but track position is everything here.
“I don’t want to say I am disappointed with second but I feel like in a way this is our race. I feel like we may have let one get away tonight. I’m happy but I am not satisfied. You know me, I want to win every race…especially when they come to our home turf.”
Tim and his close-knit team won the Stadium Mod feature in honor of Jerry Boger and Brian Pack. (Jim Dupont Photo)
TIM BROWN AND HAYES JEWELERS TEAM RACE WITH HEAVY HEARTS
The loss of popular driver Brian Pack has made it a tough week for the Modified community. Tim Brown came into the 199 weekend reeling from even more tragedy.
“We lost Brian Pack who was a dear friend to us all. Then Thursday night at 9:30 I lost a crew member who had been with me for 17-years,” said Brown. “He (Jerry Boger) and his son had helped me since I started racing. This whole weekend has been hard for our entire race team. I really wanted to win tonight for them. I was fortunate to sit on the pole and win last night (Bowman Gray's Weekly Modified Show) so I was able to give the trophies to both the families in remembrance of the loved ones that we lost. It’s hard because I am a die-hard freakin’ racer. I eat, breath sleep racing. When something like this happens it goes back to show you that there is more to life than racing. I’ve got to be strong for my race team and we have to pull through this together and support each other.”
“This is sweet redemption right here. I felt like this place owed me one. I was beginning to think that every caution was determined to fall right in front of us. I was just waiting on something to happen especially after last year. Last year I was content to ride second but Frank (Fleming) gave me a hole and I had to take it (the two cars wrecked out of the lead). I was convinced something was going to happen because it was happening around us. I’m glad it’s over with because you never know what is going to happen here until that checkered flag falls.”
The Stadium crowd didn’t get the bumper-tag finish they are accustomed to seeing at the Stadium, but they did give Loftin a loud ovation for his win.
“It’s the coliseum experience here. You have all the fans and you feel like you’re a Cup star or something. It’s gotta be what it’s like because they are either cheering you or booing you."
Brian’s win in the 199 ties his father, Bobby, for feature event wins at Bowman Gray. Both Loftins now share a spot in the history books with two victories to their credit.
“Now we are tied. I’ve been thinking of that for a long time. Every time I open up a program here and look and my name ain’t under his it eats at me a little bit. Now we have to come up there and one-up him. We are still tied so I am not better than him yet. We’ve gotten the big one over here though and his were 25-lappers so there will definitely be a little bit of ribbing.”
AGAIN, LW MILLER RUFFLES FEATHERS IN STADIUM SLUGFEST
LW Miller and Bowman Gray Stadium just hasn’t made for a great marriage. Each year Miller seems to be a part of a wreck or some controversy. This year it was both and then some.
It all started on the first lap. The field jumbled at the start and LW shot to the inside of the track. Entering turn-one he got into the grass and rumble-strips and shot up into Brian King and ended up on-top of Kings #17.
“I can never seem to get through the first lap at this racetrack,” admitted Miller. “I went down into turn-one under Brian King and he crowded me down. Rather than hitting him I got down into the rubble-strip. It was my fault. It came across the track and got on top of him. I don’t know he really squeezed me down. I probably should have nerf-ed him and it would have been ok. By letting him run me into the grass it just shot me across the racetrack.”
Even an hour after the race, King was fuming about the incident between him and LW.
“LW is an a--hole that is what happened,” said an irate King. “He’s just a d--k dude. The last three years we have been here he has wrecked everyone in turn-one. I just happened to be up close enough this time that I was the guy. I don’t know. He’s out of control. He’s running through the water, running over me, I don’t know where the f--k he’s going?
“All of it started when it was a terrible initial start. That’s what started LW up beside me and caused the problem. I gave him plenty of room and he runs over me and hits the wheel, breaks the spindle. His tire was up on the carburetor. I honestly thought he was going to break the carburetor because he was sitting on top of it spinning the tires trying to drive off my car. That is what really upset me more than anything. You don’t want to be sitting in something when it catches fire and he’s damn doing a burnout on my windshield.
“I’m thinking LW needs to get into a weight-lifting program because there is two weeks until the next race.”
Miller also didn’t make friends with Jonathan Brown after some contact on the track.
“LW was two laps down and wrecked me,” said Brown. “I was on the lead lap. It sucked for both of us on the start we all piled up there and I got hung up in it. We didn’t have any damage from that though. I was on the lead lap and he was two laps down putting water on the track. He spins me out and tears my car up.”
UNDERDOG AND VETERAN FALL VICTIM TO TIGHT CONINES OF STADIUM
For Frank Fleming, it was going to be a solid finish well-within the top-ten. For Virginia driver Thomas Stinson, who was running fifth near races end, it was going to be a great underdog feat. But the two drivers got together in the tight turns of the Stadium taking each other out of their great runs.
“We really ran well tonight,” said a disappointed Fleming. “I was running a good solid sixth. I hate it for Thomas because he was running real good and needed that. He fell off a little bit and I tried a little too hard and got into him and knocked him around. It got my car tore up in the deal. It was my fault and there is nobody else to blame for it.”
“I talked to Frank and I know he wouldn’t have done it on purpose,” said Stinson. “It would have been our best finish yet and a great underdog performance. The 98-car got in line in front of me and I really had to get in the brakes. That is when Frank really nailed me. He messed himself up too. We had a great run before that.
That great run at the Stadium was a surprise to some, but it was something Stinson knew he had a chance at doing.
“Bowman Gray is great because it suits me for my motor,” added Stinson. “Everywhere else we go I don’t have enough motor. My motor on the dyno is 518 horsepower and these guys are pushing over 600. This is the only place I can run where I feel like I have a chance. I’ve wanted to come up here and run for years. I’m looking forward to coming back here next year. A lot of them ain’t but I am.”
SPARKS FLY UNDER GREEN AND YELLOW BETWEEN BROWN AND MIZE
In the closing stages of the Advance Auto Parts 199, Jonathan Brown’s frustration level had reached its max. He was involved in the first lap incident with LW Miller and Brian King. Then he and LW got together again.
The third incident proved to be the straw that broke the camels back. In fact, it broke two racecars. Brown and Jay Mize got together. Then Mize slammed the back of Brown’s #53 Puddin’ Swisher ride sending it hard into the turn-one wall. Under caution, Brown spun the car around, drove the opposite way around the track and took out Mize. As the crowd went crazy, both drivers got out of their cars and shared words across their wrecked cars as the police intervened to calm the heated situation.
“I got tapped,” explained Mize. “I mean I was getting held up too you can see it by looking at my front bumper. I was trying to keep from spinning everybody out. It seems like nobody waits for me. They go ahead and spin me. It’s just one of those deals, my temper flared. I hate that I got into him. I was losing my brakes and I got into him but I didn’t mean to.
The caution-flag incident wasn't a surprise to Mize or the estimated 13-thousand fans in attendance.
"I was just coming around (under caution)," continued Mize. "Next thing you know he runs over me. It’s just typical Bowman Gray Stadium.”
Brown was not happy with Mize and wasn't afraid to show it on the track and say it in his interview.
“I come around with Jay Mize and both of us got in the water and I slid by him. He got behind me and drove me in the wall. I showed him I ain’t gonna take no bulls--t from nobody and tore his car up. I don’t give a s--t if he likes it or anybody else does. [The] Bowman Gray came out in me I guess. If they want to tear ‘em up on the big tracks we will do that too. The car is tore up pretty good. It got the rear clip, front clip, rack and knocked the rear-end out from under it.
Mize remained calm when his damaged #8 was towed into the pits. Although he admitted his tempers did get the best of him, he wanted to concentrate on racing.
“I’m here to race and have a good time,” said Mize after the incident. “I’m not here to fight. If I wanted to be a fighter I would have joined the UFC.”
Security presence in the pit area made sure nothing else happened once both cars were towed and parked for the night.
Brian Loftin and the #23 team celebrate their big Bowman Gray Stadium Mod Tour win. (51 Photos)
Loftin leads Burt Myers across the start-finish line to win the Advance Auto Parts 199. (51 Photos)
“We got the lucky dog (after the first lap incident) and raced our way up there,” said LW. “We got together with the 53-car. I got into him a little too hard. I was trying to do something and got into him a little too hard and he spun. I hate it because I didn’t mean to do that. I was just trying to make something happen. NASCAR then decided to make me do a drive through under green-flag conditions at Bowman Gray Stadium. Granted if they wanted to penalize me for spinning him out my hats off to them. They should have done it on the racetrack and not under green-flag conditions. Under caution it’s dangerous to come in and out of the pits. They make me come in under speed? That was a poor call on their part. You are taking your life into your own hands but that is the call they made.
“We got the lucky dog again (for the second time) and fought our way up to finish eight. For a night like that to come out in the top-ten I will take it.”
LW Miller's #36 lands on top of Brian King's #17. (Top: Rick Ibsen Photo / Bottom - 51 Photo)
Stinson's #7 and Frank Fleming's #07 wrecked in turn-four. (51 Photo)
Mize hits Brown. Brown retaliates under caution. Both drivers exchange pleasantries. (Rick Ibsen / 51 Photos)
SEUSS ADAPTS WELL FOR FIFTH PLACE RUN
Andy Seuss had never raced at the Stadium. He only saw it once, during his press conference to announce his joining with Riggs Racing. The bull-ring treated Seuss nicely on his maiden voyage, sending him home with a 5th place finish.
“I had never seen a race here so I kept saying ‘Nah, it’s going to be racy.’ It is actually very much about strategy,” said Seuss. “It’s follow the leader but real, real tough. Once I was here and drove the track I said that I had no idea how I was going to drive with other cars on the track. We went out there and learned a lot and now next year maybe not too frightened to come here another time.
Any advise to others thinking of coming down to race the Stadium?
“Bring an open mind and be ready to adapt because it is wild,” laughed Seuss.
EMOTIONS RUN HIGH AS FALLEN DRIVER BRIAN PACK IS HONORED
Gene Pack returned to the racetrack for the first time since his son’s untimely death a week before. It was an emotional return filled with hugs, well wishes and prayers. Gene’s car carried decals to remember his son. Brian’s car had “Thank You Daddy” on the roof. Gene’s car carried “Thank You Son” for the Bowman Gray race
In a touching tribute during pre-race ceremonies on the front-stretch, the NASCAR Southern Modified Tour Ladies Auxiliary, and the drivers of the Modified Tour joined the Pack family, team and friends in releasing 81-balloons into the sky to honor the driver of #81.
“When I walked in, Gene's was the first car that I saw,” said a very emotional Tim Brown. “It brought a smile to my face but it also brought a tear to my eye at the same time. I can only imagine what he is going through. I walked over and told him that I loved him and I thought he was doing the right thing getting back out here and being a part of this family and told him that if he needed anything I would be there for him. He said it is hard but he wanted to be here for his grandsons and his family.”
Brown went on to explain how the tragedy has put new perspective into his life.
“Brian Pack put his wife and kids way in front of his racing. I admire him for that. I have been really bad to put my racing in front of everything. He would miss practice to be at a ballgame for his kids. There is more to life than racing. I am glad to know that Brian spent a lot of time with his family because the time he spent he didn’t know it was going to be short. I’m proud of him for that. I’ve got a step-son that I don’t spend a lot of time with because I race. Since Brian passed away I’ve spent more time and will try to more. It’s so sad in some ways that it takes something like that to flip that switch in your head to say that this racing is your life but your family is what is important.”
(Top) Gene Pack carries a tribute scheme for his son. (Bottom) Balloons are released as a tribute to Brian Pack. (Jim Dupont / 51 Photos)
From the Pack Family:
Everyone who was a competitor and friend has been so supportive of our family, Brian would have not believed that this many people cared for him. He never felt or acted like he was the most popular driver at the races, but he always loved the attention he or the car would receive from the kids. We are so thankful that people recognize Brian for the person and father he was. Hopefully the number 81 will live on and when you see that number at any track, you will think of Brian.
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS 199 TID-BITS
- Track promoters were pleased with the event but not 100-percent satisfied with the estimated crowd of about 13-thousand people. Attendance was down most likely because of the afternoon showers that delayed the event. Even on a bad night, they get crowds most short tracks would jump for joy over.
- Tim Brown, using the same car, won the Stadium Mod feature on Friday night and finished third in the AA 199 on Saturday.
- Oh yeah, Bobby Hutchens quietly paced his way to a fourth place finish in the 199.
- Some drivers expressed that they would like to see the "Choose" format, double-file restart applied to the 199 next year to make the quality of the race better and to give drivers a chance to move up and compete on the very tight 1/4 mile oval. Right now, the "Choose" rule is part of the weekly Mod shows at the Stadium.
- Steve Park was a special guest of Advance Auto Parts and the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and participated in pre-race ceremonies. The former Modified driver, who now races in the Camping World East Series, said he remembers coming to the Stadium when his father, Bob Park, raced there. Bob was also in attendance.