From Misfortune to Fame for Loftin and Seuss By Matthew Dillner
Caraway Turns Nightmares Into Dreams for Two Mod Drivers
The second night of racing in a row for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour provided much needed relief for two teams that were ailing after Friday night's Ace Speedway show.
After a lap-one wreck, Andy Seuss and the Riggs Racing crew drove back to the team's shop in Virginia and stayed up through the night to be able to show up to race at Caraway on Saturday. They scrapped to get together a car that had been sitting a carport to go racing.
Brian Loftin was another fast driver at Ace, who saw his night end in shambles. The immaculate #23 car was super-tight all night at Ace due to a brake problem that they would later diagnose. They were also plagued at end of the race with alternator problems.
“If it could go wrong it did go wrong,” said Loftin about Friday night.
Fast forward to Caraway Speedway on Saturday and it was a new day for both of these hard-luck teams. For Seuss and the #47 team, wiping the sleepers out of their eyes was first and foremost. Then seeing if the car they worked on in the overnight period would even be competitive was the second step. For Loftin, with mechanical woes behind him, it was all about shaking off the disappointment and focusing on the next race.
How fitting was it that both of these drivers battled down to the wire for the race win?
Seuss started the race on the outside of the front row. After an amazing battle, hanging it on the outside on a track that was wet from weepers, he took the lead away from John Smith. Seuss then held off a charging Georgie Brunnhoelzl until, again, Brunnhoelzl had some minor mechanical gremlins. This time his problems came in the form of a backfire on his #28 machine.
The teams of Andy Seuss (#47 - background) and Brian Loftin (#23) had much better races at Caraway than at Ace. (51 Photos)
Seuss led 137 laps, but as he said “I didn't lead the right ones.”
In his mirror the #23 of Loftin was coming. Brian patiently moved up from his eighth-place starting spot, to get into second by getting around a fading Brunnhoelzl. Then the question was, if would Loftin have enough time to reel in Seuss who had stretched out his lead to a comfortable margin? The answer came in the form of a yellow-flag.
“Without the caution at the end I don't know if we would have been able to run Andy down,” said a very happy Brian Loftin. “I think we would have gotten to his back bumper but don't think I would have been able to get around him. We were using up too much around the 50-lap mark. They were all running a good pace. I was very happy when that yellow came out. I still didn't know for sure that I had him covered because he was pretty stout. I knew then I was going to have a shot at him at that point.”
“That was the heartbreaking moment,” said Seuss. “I still thought in my mind that if I got down into turn one and it didn't wash up and I just get back in my rhythm I would be fine and have enough to hold him off.
When the green flag came out with just over ten-laps to go, Loftin wasted no time getting underneath Seuss. The two drivers fought hard, but clean, as Loftin got by Seuss to take the win.
“He really got us with some motor, added Seuss. “We came off the turn pretty even and he was a half-a-car behind me. He got under me at the end of the straightaway. He drove it in there hard but he didn't wash up into me. He drove me clean. He's a lot of fun to drive against. Driving with guys that will race you clean like Brian is why we come to compete. It makes it a whole lot better than the mess from the race at Ace the other night.”
“He gave me a lot of room and it is fun to race like that, said Loftin about racing for the
win with Seuss. “There aren't that many people that you can race against like that and race that clean. The first lap I got a pretty good run on him off of turn-two. I saw that I did so I swung it out wide in one the next lap and got a run off of two and got underneath him down the middle of the back-straightaway. He fought hard but I think we had a little more drive up off the corner than he did and was able to pull it off.
“I hate that the 47 didn't win tonight,” admitted Loftin, “After the night they had last night getting turned around. They had a bad night last night as well but at least both of us had great nights tonight to go home to.”
For Seuss the second-place run was like sweet victory after Ace.
“It's good to be part of a family like Riggs Racing because the whole team is a family and it really made it evident last night with the dedication it took from the guys to work together and get this car to Caraway. We had one night to get a car ready. It's a 12-year old car that was sitting under a carport and hasn't been run since the beginning of last year. The motor was out of it and there was no seat or rear-end. We left the track and it was an hour and a half trip up to Martinsville (VA). Some of the guys who were up all day at Ace working didn't even go to bed that night. They worked right through the night. They were great to me and let me go to bed at 3am to get some sleep and let me sleep in a little bit this morning. We scaled the car in the morning and finished up a few things. I can't thank those guys enough. There were even guys helping that didn't come to the track either day but were there to help out.”
Seuss' team worked around the clock and led the most laps. Loftin's team worked hard too - and led when it mattered the most.
Loftin attributed much of his weekend's turn-around to his team as well. For the 23-Team it wasn't an all-nighter that made the difference, it was not letting Friday's disappointment slow them down. After a tough roller-coaster season in 2007, it was tough for Loftin to see that big-picture.
“After Ace last night I was kinda down,” admitted Loftin. “I was thinking to myself 'here goes last year all over again.' My guys rallied around me and kept my head up all day. They wouldn't let me give up. They wouldn't let me get down or depressed and said 'lets go and we can win this thing.' They worked hard for me all day. I think we are going to keep this thing going. We have a great young group of guys, best crew I've had and the best cars I've ever had. I don't think this will be the last one we'll get this year.
“You're only as good as your last race and it's real easy to get humbled in this sport. You have a bad week and all of the sudden you are not the man on top. You are the man who is 15th. It can happen to you and you can fall back off your game but you have to work harder and get back on top.”
Stay tuned to Speed51.com for more on the big NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Doubleheader weekend in our “Leftovers” section.