Finally - Tim Brown Enters WSMT Victory Lane at Caraway Speedway by Jason Buckley
First Win Of The Season Gives Brown His First Win At The Asheboro, North Carolina Track
Lowe’s Motor Speedway (NC) has been labeled “the house that Jimmie Johnson built.” The term is a play on words based on his sponsor Lowe’s, a home improvement retail store company, and the fact that he seems to end up in victory lane on a regular basis at the track. When NASCAR comes to town, Johnson is known as one of the top contenders even before the cars hit the track.
Similarly, LW Miller has a track in the Carolinas that is known as “his house” on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Caraway Speedway is a place where Miller has won and won often. This season though he has only had one win at the Asheboro, North Carolina track while Brian Loftin has scored the other two victories going into the 150-lap race Saturday night, the seventh race on the 2008 season tour. Neither driver though would enter victory lane as Tim Brown crossed the line first at the checkered, winning his first ever Caraway Southern Mod Tour race, which was also his first win of the 2008 season.
“I’m worn out man. I am extremely tired,” said Brown in victory lane. “I’ll tell you this thing was just unbelievable tonight. It was just really, really hooked up. The motor ran good and I’m just proud of my guys and all my sponsors and what they do for me. This right here is what it’s all about and I’m just glad to be here.”
Brown’s run to victory lane started from the third position behind Miller. For multiple laps, Brown tried high and low to get around Miller for the lead, only to get shuffled back a few positions while others like Andy Seuss and Brandon Ward tried the same thing to no avail. Miller was hogging the top spot all to himself when mechanical issues with his car caused a few cars to get crossed up, which later forced him to stop on the track with a flat tire.
“We had an awesome car tonight,” said Miller. “About 15 laps into it, I blew a power steering hose. It blew all over the windshield, but luckily I ripped the windshield out to where I could see and remained in the lead. I bottled up everyone one time and I guess the 93 (Ward) got into me a little bit and got me sideways. Without power steering, I couldn’t correct the car, so then we all banged and beat or whatever happened and the
caution came out. Luckily they put me back in the lead because we hadn’t completed a lap, but when we went back under green I must have cut the right front tire because I went down into one and the right front was flat. I stopped to get the caution out and we didn’t have many other options at that point and they penalized me two or three laps for that. We went back out there and pretty much, you know, rode around for the rest of the race.”
With Miller down a few laps and out of the picture, the lead was handed over to Ward, who was hounded by Brown for the lead. After running side by side for multiple laps, Brown once again slipped back to third and had to work his way around Seuss to try again to get by Ward. With 25 laps to go, while the leaders were working their way around lapped traffic, Brown made contact with the Ward’s back bumper, sending Ward into the spin cycle in turn one.
Tim Brown was happy after winning his first Caraway Tour race. (51 Sports Photo)
Brandon Ward paced the field multiple laps before contact sent him into the spin cycle and out of the lead. (51 Sports Photo)
“He (Brown) was clearly better than we were,” said Ward, who finished 10th. “He didn’t do anything I wouldn’t have done. I mean he got a run on us. We were able to hold our own on the bottom, but that’s where we had to run. We lost a lot of side bite earlier in the race. I could move up getting in, turn good across the center and get a straighter line up off and get good forward bite, but there at the end I had to back my entry up and get down on the bottom. I was just trying to hold that line. It just kept getting worse and worse and he was maintaining and staying better and better.”
The on-track incident gave the lead over to Brown with just 22 laps remaining. With Loftin in his mirror, Brown drove on to victory. Still though, as happy as he was to win, he felt bad over the contact that sent Ward around.
“Yeah, I always feel bad when someone gets turned and we’re racing for the win,” said Brown. “He (Ward) drove off into the corner pretty hard and I was putting a lot of pressure on him. He slid up the race track and I shot it in on the bottom. It was a deal where he came down and I was in the gas and we were racing hard and we just got together. I hate that he got turned there and it benefited me tonight, but sometimes it doesn’t and I don’t race that way. He had a good car and had a good run. I hate it for him.”
In victory lane, Ward made his presence known by giving Brown congratulations as well as letting him know he wasn’t upset over the contact. That, along with his first Mod Tour victory at a track he has been trying to get a win out of, made the night for Brown.
“I’ve won here in other things; I’ve just never won a Tour race here,” explained Brown. “This is big for me to have a Whelen Southern Modified Tour win at Caraway, and not only that, this is our first win of the year too. This is a brand new race car. It is only three races old and I think we hit on something tonight that it likes. We’re going to Kenly (NC) next week, which is where I won last year, so I hope this thing eats like that down there too and we’ll be awesome.”
BROWN GETS SUPPORT FROM FENDERED RACERS FULTZ AND FRITTS
Besides having team support at a track, moral support can make the difference in attitude before and after a race. That was the case for Tim Brown, who had two stock car racers in his corner at Caraway.
Jeff Fultz showed up at the track to help Brown get to victory lane. The trip worked.
“Tim is our buddy and we brought him some shocks and worked on his car today,” said Fultz. “Joe Shear and I came here and he’s won his first race. He has never won here so it’s his first win, so it’s a good one for Tim Brown and Fultz Racing.”
Meanwhile, Mike Fritts came along for the ride with his friend Fultz to help cheer on Brown.
“I just came to hang out with my buddy Jeff Fultz and Joe Shear, Jr. We came to help out with the 83 car (Brown),” said Fritz. “Jeff brought some shocks over and is trying to give his buddy a hand. They used to work together. I just rode over with him and I am hanging out, enjoying it.”
Mike Fritz (left) and Jeff Fultz (right) showed up at Caraway to support their friend Tim Brown. (51 Sports Photo)
BRIAN LOFTIN SNEAKS UP TO A SECOND-PLACE FINISH
While a few drivers made noise throughout the 150-lap event, Brian Loftin stayed pretty quiet throughout the event. When it was “go time” late in the race, he made his presence known, finishing second to Brown.
“We got shuffled back there a little at the beginning,” said Loftin. “We had to come back and really think we had to use up a little too much. All those guys were getting closer down there and everybody was getting a lot faster and we just came up a little bit short.
“They brought us an older tire from last year down here tonight and we just didn’t have the grip, so if the car was flying up you’d try to keep it on the bottom. The only way I could get around anybody was to roll around the top. All in all we had a good night. We can’t complain.”
NO AUTOGRAPH SESSION FOR THE FANS
With no autograph session, fans stood by the fence to get a glimpse of their favorite drivers before the race. (51 Sports Photo)
Fans of the short-track world have been getting accustomed to autograph sessions prior to the touring races. From the PASS Super Late Model events to the Southern Modified Tour, before the races take the green flag, fans are able to meet their heroes. Usually the only time that changes is when there is weather in the area that could cause the race to not go it’s scheduled distance.
Saturday night the weather was perfect and many drivers had their hero cards out, ready to participate in an autograph session with the fans. Unfortunately one would not happen as the fans were not allowed on the track for the driver meet and greet.
It is unclear if this was planned or a change of plans by the track or the series, but a few drivers and sponsor representatives seemed a bit perplexed and upset about it prior to the start of the event.
SEUSS GOES FORWARD BEFORE SETTLING FOR THIRD
After starting from the eighth position, Andy Seuss rocketed his way towards the front of the field, but was stuck behind the leaders as they occupied the preferred low line. Seuss wasn’t content to ride, so he made his charge on the outside to battle for the lead before fading back and settling for third at the end of the race.
“The car was just hooked,” said Seuss. “The guys up front were slowing down, setting their own pace. It was actually cooking my brakes slowing down for them, so I just figured if I could get there I could settle in out front and set my own pace.
“The car was never the same after that. Something must be bent in the shock tower. It was a shame. We had a real good car, but third place is real good.”
WHAT IS HE DOING ON THE TRACK DURING QUALIFYING?
The Whelen Southern Modified Tour was one of many races being held at Caraway Speedway Saturday night. Before the Tour cars qualified, the other divisions took to the track for their qualifying runs.
Once the vehicles took the checkered flag from their fast laps on the track, the back-gate police officer made his way onto the track to direct the cars to the infield via the back pit entrance.
Meanwhile, another vehicle would be on the track at full speed under the clock for their run. The officer would then make a dash to the wall, jumping back over it before that vehicle would come by at full speed.
The groove at Caraway takes cars right to the wall off the corner. There were many close calls where the officer barely got his legs back up over the wall, just seconds before a car would come by, but thankfully he was never hit.
Still though, is that really safe?
FORMER POLE KING BURT MYERS LOOKING TO TAKE THE CROWN BACK TO THE DIRTY SOUTH
Last year in the Mod scene across the south, it was almost not even worth having a qualifying session to see who would get the pole position. Burt Myers racked up more poles than anyone could think about having across multiple touring series.
This season though, Myers has been focusing on the race setup, not his qualifying setup, to get him in victory lane. That was until Saturday when Myers bested the rest of the Mod drivers to be the fastest qualifier once again.
“After that last practice we changed the shock, two springs and a sway bar, so we made some changes on the car,” said Myers. “I just wasn’t really happy with it in practice, but so far so good. We qualified pretty good so we’ll see what happens in the race.”
During qualifying for other divisions, the officer on the back stretch would direct someone to the infield after their qualfying run (top), then make a mad dash to the wall (middle and bottom) as the next car was coming full speed at him. Many times he just barely got missed. (51 Sports Photo)
Just how many fast qualifier awards does the former King of Poles have this season?
“This year, three I think,” said Myers. “We’re way behind from last year, but the way I look at it is we come out to win the race and if you sit on the pole, it’s a bonus.
“The competition is always improving and we’re constantly trying to work on the car to get it to go faster during the race. Last year we only won one race on the tour and we’d like to flip flop the poles and the wins and get about six wins. We just keep trying to get the car to go faster for the race and sometimes that affects the qualifying. If we get a little bit of both, the best of both worlds, then we will be in good shape.”
AS SEEN ON YOU TUBE? MYERS GETS STICKERED
Just about everyone in the Modified community know about the Burt Myers versus Junior Miller war in the Modifieds, especially after the two drivers tangled in the season finale race at Bowman Gray Stadium, where post-race altercations occurred between the two drivers. Videos of the incident quickly made their way onto the video site YouTube.com (click here for part one, click here for part two), making some cheer for Myers’ actions and others to shake their heads in disgust.
This weekend at Caraway, two stickers made it to the track. A member of another team placed a sticker on Myers’ car that said “as seen on youtube” with five stars under it, signifying the video rating system the site has. Another sticker was meant for Miller’s car, but Miller was a no show.
Taking it in stride, Myers had a smile on his face when he saw the sticker on his car and it stayed on there for the rest of the evening.
After the recent on-track issues with Junior Miller, an 'unnamed' person slapped a funny sticker on Burt Myers' car at Caraway. (51 Sports Photo)