Andy Seuss & Riggs Racing Enjoy Victory in WSMT Finale at Caraway by Jason Buckley
Brian Loftin Finishes Third; Wins Series Title
Many drivers on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour were looking for their first win of the season at Caraway Speedway (NC) in the final event of the season for the series. Junior Miller, Jason Myers, Brian King, Andy Seuss and Frank Fleming all had goose eggs next to their win column for the year. Meanwhile Brian Loftin, Tim Brown, L.W. Miller and George Brunnhoelzl were looking to add one more win to their record at the track the tour races at for half their season.
At the end of 150 laps of racing, one more driver moved from the zero to hero column as Seuss dominated the day, winning his second career WSMT event, but first of the year and first with the famed Riggs Racing team in the #47 Advance Auto Parts ride.
"Finally," said Seuss in victory lane. "I’m just so happy. It’s been a long time for me down here on this Southern Tour and almost as long for Riggs Racing since Junior Miller left, so I’m glad we were able to get through this season and get us a win before we go on to next year and win a couple then."
Tim Brown set fast time for the event, but the redraw put Jay Mize on the pole for the start of the race. Seuss started from the fourth spot, but quickly took the lead before the 10th lap.
“I wasn’t planning it (to get to the front that early), but when Tim (Brown, pole-sitter) wanted to go pretty hard, he had a freight train of cars behind him. So, I had to go," explained Seuss. "It worked out well because a door opened up on the outside of Jason (Myers) and I just kind of went. The #93 (Brandon Ward) and #83 (Brown) had been real fast here, so I just kind of waiting to see and the car just stayed under me the whole race."
Seuss' modified did stay under him the whole race as he held the top spot through the remainder of the event. In fact, when Seuss took the checkered flag, he still stayed in the gas until he knew the race was over and he won.
"I didn’t see the white flag and I wasn’t even lifting until they told me to after the race," said Seuss. "Once I saw the caution lights come out after what I think was the last lap, I figured I was alright. I just kept going. It’s been a long time. We’ve been so close. These guys deserve it. We’ll go into the winter and be very happy about this one."
Andy Seuss and the Riggs Racing team enjoyed their victory at Caraway. (51 Sports Photo)
Brian Loftin exited his car at the end of the night as the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour 2008 champ. (51 Sports Photo)
Brian Loftin Finishes Third; Wins First WSMT Championship Title
Saturday night wasn't different than any other night for most racers. Even Brian Loftin, who was racing for the title, didn't have to do anything different than he has done the entire season. In order to take the title, he had to finish seventh or better regardless of where his competition finished to win his first Southern Modified Tour championship. His third-place finish did just that as the racer from Lexington, North Carolina, was declared the series champ at the end of the night.
“Relief, relief," said Loftin after the race. "I’m telling you what, it’s over. It has been nerve racking thinking about everything that could go wrong and could possibly take us out of it and to just get it over with and get one in the books, it’s just relief."
Throughout the first part of the event, Loftin slid back from the front of the pack, but was always aware of where his points contender, Tim Brown, was on the track. Towards the end of the race, Loftin felt he had some power under his mod machine to move closer to the front and possibly win the event, but he played it safe en route to his third-place finish.
"We got shuffled back there at the beginning," said Loftin. "We seem to never have a good race car at the beginning of the race and those guys can go off the start. We came back and I saw them coming back to me pretty quick. I just started picking them off one at a time.
"I’m going to tell you what; we had a better race car than what we showed. Andy (Seuss) and they had a good car. I don’t want to take anything away from them, but I think we could have put up a little bit of a fight for them. Whenever we got to third and I was sitting there behind Tim (Brown), I’m not going to lie; we could have done something with him. There’s no doubt, but I had to think about the big picture. There was way too much to lose. I had a lot of room in front of me and a lot of room behind me. It was just too inviting to just sit there and ride.”
After Seuss crossed the line and celebrated in victory lane as the race winner, Loftin's machine was rolled into position as he and his team celebrated his championship.
“It’s everything," said Loftin. "This is the biggest thing that has happened to me in my career, next to my son being born and my wife. This is huge.”
Little Loftin Enjoying The Moment ... Or Did He?
Along with his team members, Brian Loftin celebrated his championship with his family. Of course, the newest addition to the family was his son, young Carson Loftin.
With the youngster at the perfect size to fit in the championship trophy bowl, everyone was hollering at Brian to put his son in the bowl for the photo op. It was a cute moment, except little Carson wasn't too thrilled as he cried.
"He actually loves trophies and loves steering wheels, so I don’t know," said Brian. "I think he may have gotten a little champagne in his eye."
Carson Loftin, the newest addition to the family, sat in the championship bowl. (51 Sports Photo)
Tim Brown Ends Up The Bride's Maid - Again
There wasn't really a whole lot Tim Brown could do to obtain the 2008 series title, except dominate the day and hope Brian Loftin would have issues during the race to knock him out of the top-seven positions. He started off his bid at domination by winning the pole, but the redraw pushed him back to the third starting position, where he drove to a second-place finish in the race, leaving him one spot short of obtaining the championship title.
"We came down here with intentions to try and sit on the pole and win the race, we just came up a little bit short," said Brown. "With the way Brian ran tonight, even if we would have won the race, it would have just been a cap to a good year; we still wouldn’t have won a championship. Congratulations to those guys, they have a class act. They deserve it.
"It would have been great to have gotten my guys a championship. We’ve been so close for four years now and it’ll be second again for three years in a row. It’s better than being third three years in a row or fifth three years in a row, but we’ll get one."
Tim Brown learned this year how to conquer Caraway Speedway, something he will take with him next year when he tries for the title once again. (51 Sports photo)
Despite losing the title, Brown has nothing to hang his head low for. His team has finally found the secret to running strong and winning at Caraway Speedway, a track the series runs at half of the races of the season.
"We’ve always struggled here and when you have seven races out of your tour at the same race track when you struggle there, that’s not good. So I’m really excited about next year to get to run the tour. We finally have Caraway figured out where we aren’t coming down here running sixth or seventh and giving those valuable points away seven times a year. If we can come and win a few more races on the tour next year, we will try to get that illusive championship.”
Paging Burt Myers - Mr. Myers, Please Report to the Track
After losing the appeal on his suspension from the Tour due to a rules infraction, Burt Myers wasn't able to race in the season finale Southern Modified Tour event at Caraway Speedway Saturday night. It seemed odd to have a race run at the track without the "Dirty South" #1 Modified in the house, but Jason Myers, Burt's brother, did help carry the family tradition at the track by finishing a strong fourth.
"He (Burt) was listening in on the radio with us tonight," said Jason Myers. "It’s a little strange being in the pits and him not there beside us. We kind of share information about whose car is doing what and we run out of the same shop.
"I hate it for him, he’s got a raw deal, and I think everyone thinks so, but what can you do? Play the game or stay home.”
Caraway Fans Help Others In Need, Including "Unnamed" Media Members
Some of the most loyal race fans across the south are at Caraway Speedway, but most of those fans do not buy tickets to sit in the stands. Instead, the hardcore race fans buy a pass to park along the outside of the back stretch and through the third turn, bring their grills and party all evening during the racing action.
Unfortunately, the track grounds at Caraway Speedway doesn't quite have enough room, or the terrain, to support all the vehicles that line the fence and the track grounds outside of the facility. While in some areas vehicles are able to drive up and park on a hill, other areas have steep ditches that many vehicles hit and get stuck in.
Saturday night's Whelen Southern Modified Tour finale packed the house with cars well before the features were taking the green flag. That caused many drivers to double and triple park behind the track in hopes of having a place to watch the race from. In one case, an "unnamed" media representative attempted to park his Jeep Wrangler close to a drop-off ditch area to squeeze his vehicle behind the track, only to get stuck in the process.
Getting stuck in the big ditches behind Caraway Speedway is common, according to locals who pull many vehicles out every event. (51 Sports Photo)
This "unnamed" media representative would like to thank Tim Brown (not the racer) and Scott Smith for pulling his vehicle out of the ditch. Both Brown and Smith claimed to have pulled out numerous people over the season, and this "unnamed" media rep was just one of many.