It has been long overdue for 2008 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion Brian Loftin. After sitting tied with L.W. Miller and Junior Miller for the career mark of wins on the Tour, Loftin finally has it all to himself with 11 wins.
Loftin made a strong pass by L.W. Miller to take the lead on Lap 72 and held off current championship points leader George Brunnhoelzl III on a green-white-checkered finish to win the Caraway 150 Saturday night in front of a nice crowd at Caraway Speedway.
Loftin enjoyed a three car length lead in the closing moments of the race before the sixth and final caution flag was displayed to the field on lap 146, when Tommy Neal ran out of fuel to set up a green-white-checkered finish.
Loftin was able to get a good restart and hold off George Brunnhoelzl III to pick up his first win of the season. Loftin’s previous series win was at Caraway Speedway just over a year ago during his championship-winning campaign.
Although Loftin was able to keep Brunnhoelzl at bay, it was his pass by another former Tour champion, L.W. Miller, which was memorable on lap 72.
“L.W. is tough to pass here (Caraway),” Loftin said about his bonsai move for the lead. “He doesn’t like to give you any more room than he has to which he shouldn’t have to when he’s leading. But I knew I had to stick it (car) in there because you don’t get too many chances here.”
Loftin added that the win was a culmination of hard work by his crew all year long.
“We have struggled a little bit trying to figure out this new tire and my guys have worked hard all year trying to help us get the right setup,” said Loftin. “We have changed shocks, springs, you name it, to try and figure out our car. I am just happy we were finally able to give the guys a reason to celebrate.”
As for the record, Loftin says he is focused on other things — like becoming the first driver since Junior Miller to win back-to-back titles.
“It is nice to have the record for the most wins on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour but what we are focused on is getting back into the championship hunt and to catch George (Brunnhoelzl) we will need some more wins,” Loftin added.
Following Brunnhoelzl was Andy Seuss in third and L.W. Miller in fourth. John Smith completed the top five.
Brunnhoelzl also made contact with L.W. Miller racing for the lead and although a little upset at the end of the race, was happy to come home second and build his points lead over Seuss.
“They way L.W. drove tonight wasn’t racing that was riding and if he wants to ride around like that that’s fine,” Brunnhoelzl said. “Second (place) is okay but we want to win some more races.”
Brunnhoelzl, who won his fourth Coors Light Pole Award of the season earlier in the day in qualifying, started on the outside of row 1 after the redraw and quickly took the lead from Frank Fleming at the start of the race. He remained out front until he was passed by L.W. Miller on lap 27 when the two made contact in Turn 4.
Brunnhoelzl padded his points lead to 86 points over Seuss with six races remaining on the schedule. The race was slowed six times for caution and 15 of the 16 cars finished the race. The only car to not finish the race was Frank Fleming who suffered damaged in an accident on the restart on lap 99.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour visits Myrtle Beach Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 5.