NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour driver George Brunnhoelzl III took another large step toward earning his first championship by winning the Caraway 150 Saturday night.
Brunnhoelzl, who entered Caraway Speedway with a 76-point lead on Andy Seuss in the season standings, made the decisive pass for the lead on Lap 85 and held on through a green-white-checker finish to register his third win of the season by .974 seconds over Burt Myers.
After Myers crossed the line second, Frank Fleming, Jason Myers and John Smith followed to complete the top five.
“I had a great car tonight and I got to thank all the guys on the team for giving me a great car,” Brunnhoelzl said. “It is the first time I have had a car that actually got better the harder I drove it.”
Brunnhoelzl qualified his No. 28 Oval Speed Ford on the outside of the front row and started the race ninth after the redraw. Frank Fleming put his No. 40 Jerry Hunt Auto Sales Pontiac up front when he started from the point after the redraw.
Fleming, John Smith and Burt Myers led the field for the first 56 laps under green when the first of five yellow flags were given to the field.
Fleming maintained his lead on the restart but after L.W. Miller and Buddy Emory got together on lap 63 to bring out the second caution, Myers was able to pass Fleming on the restart. Although happy with his top-three finish after two consecutive bad finishes due to an accident and motor woes, Fleming felt he had a car capable of winning the race.
“These guys keep getting me on the restarts,” Fleming added. “I have to find a way to get our gearing right so we can handle these guys on the restart.”
Myers, who won his series-record 19 career Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day, also was happy with his runner-up finish. He led from laps 68 to 84 before Brunnhoelzl made a daring pass on the outside and remained out front the rest of the night.
“I told the guys under that last caution that we were really good and we are getting back to where we can race for wins again,” Myers said.
Brunnhoelzl added he felt that opportunity to pass Myers on lap 85 might be the only chance he was going to get against the veteran driver.
“I knew that might be the only shot I had so I took it and he and I raced for the lead real clean and didn’t touch each other,” Brunnhoelzl said. “My car just drove so well I felt like I could make the pass on the outside.”
Gene Pack, Thomas Stinson, Buddy Emory, Josh Nichols and Jim Willis rounded out the top 10.
Seuss, who entered the night in second-place in the point standings, eventually finished 14th – five laps down – after being forced to pit numerous times with mid-race ignition problems.
It was also not a good night for the defending NWSMT champion Brian Loftin. Loftin and Brian Nichols made contact while the drivers were running sixth and eighth collectively sending Loftin into the Turn 1 wall backwards making hard contact. Loftin, who entered the night in third-place in the standings, attempted to stay in the race but parked his car several laps later due to the damage.
As a result of problems with Seuss and Loftin during the race, Brunnhoelzl was able to extend his lead in the championship standings to 135 points on Seuss with four events remaining on the schedule.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will return to Caraway next Saturday, Sept. 19 for the 11th race of the season.
NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour-Caraway 150 Unofficial Results
At Caraway Speedway
Lap length: 0.45 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (9) George Brunnhoelzl III, West Babylon, N.Y., Ford, 152 laps, 76.615 mph, $2,000.
2. (4) Burt Myers, Walnut Cove, N.C., Ford, 152, $1,500.
3. (1) Frank Fleming, Mount Airy, N.C., Pontiac, 152, $1,125.
4. (5) Jason Myers, Walnut Cove, N.C., Ford, 152, $1,050.
5. (3) John Smith, Mount Airy, N.C., Chevrolet, 152, $1,000.
6. (11) Gene Pack, Walkertown, N.C., Chevrolet, 152, $850.
7. (12) Thomas Stinson, Richmond, VA., Chevrolet, 152, $750.
8. (2) Buddy Emory, Petersburg, VA., Chevrolet, 151, $690.
9. (7) Josh Nichols, Cleveland, N.C., Chevrolet, 150, $590.
10. (16) Jim Willis, Holly Springs, NC, Chevrolet, 149, electrical, $550.
11. (14) Tommy Neal, Walkertown, NC, Chevrolet, 149, $525.
12. (15) Rich Kuiken Jr., Staffordsville, N.J., Chevrolet, 148, $500.
13. (13) Bryan Dauzat, Midland, NC, Chevrolet, 147, $485.
14. (10) Andy Seuss, Hampstead, N.H., Dodge, 145, $460.
15. (6) Brian Loftin, Lexington, N.C., Chevrolet, 79, accident, $445.
16. (8) L.W. Miller, Dushore, PA., Pontiac, 63, accident, $430.
Time of Race: 0 hours 53 minutes 34 seconds
Margin of Victory: 0.974 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: B.Myers (101.466 mph, 15.966 seconds)
Caution Flags: 5 for 26 laps.
Lead Changes: 2 among 3 drivers.
Lap Leaders: F. Fleming 1-67; B. Myers 68-84; G. Brunnhoelzl III 85-152.
Standings: 1. G. Brunnhoelzl III, 1685; 2. A. Seuss, 1550; 3. B. Loftin, 1489; 4. B. Myers, 1478; 5. L. Miller, 1457; 6. F. Fleming, 1427; 7. J. Myers, 1381; 8. G. Pack, 1358; 9. J. Smith, 1357; 10. B. Emory, 1326.