News & Notes: Caraway Opens 2012 Season
Whelen Southern Modified Tour Begins At ‘Home Track’
There’s no place like home and for the sixth time in the history of the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, the season will begin at its ‘home track.’
Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C., will play host to the Spring Classic 150 on Sunday, March 25, and drivers know they have to run well at Caraway if they want to have a shot at the 2012 championship. The .455-mile oval will hold six of the 12 races this season, including four of the first five on the schedule.
Having held 39 races over seven seasons – the most in tour history – Caraway has proven to be the measure for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Just one champion – Burt Myers in 2010 – claimed his title without winning an event there. Myers has just one Caraway win despite claiming 12 Coors Light Pole Awards there. His lone triumph came in April 2005, the tour’s inaugural season.
The track will celebrate its 40th Whelen Southern Modified Tour race with the Spring Classic as the new season gets underway. Seven previous race winners at the track are entered for the event with Brian Loftin and L.W. Miller leading the way with seven career victories each. Other Caraway winners expected to race are Tim Brown, defending tour champion George Brunnhoelzl III, John Smith and Andy Seuss.
With 24 cars pre-entered as of March 14, each team has dreams of a championship season and they look to kick start the 2012 campaign with a solid performance and take the first step to achieving the ultimate goal.
Familiar Ground: The Spring Classic 150 marks the first of five events for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour scheduled at Caraway Speedway in 2012.
The First Modified Lock Goes To … : The winner of the Spring Classic 150 will be the first Whelen Southern Modified Tour driver locked into the inaugural UNOH Battle at the Beach at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February 2013. Each race winner throughout the season from the Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours will earn guaranteed starting positions for the combined Whelen Modified exhibition feature on the short track at Daytona.
New Math: Over the offseason, NASCAR’s regional touring series adopted the points program previously instituted at the national series level in 2011, the 43-to-1 system. The same bonus system also applies: one point for leading a lap, one additional point for leading the most laps and three points for a win. Therefore, the maximum point total that can be collected at each event is 48 compared to 190 in the more complex old system.
Expecting New Faces: A.J. Winstead leads a group of four drivers expected to make their NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour debut at Caraway. Joining Winstead are Kyle Ebersole, Danny Bohn and Joe Scarbrough.
Welcome Back: Ric Kuiken, Jr. is returning to fulltime competition this season since taking a break following the 2009 to concentrate on his studies as an engineering student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Also expected to make his first tour start since early in the 2010 campaign is J.R. Bertuccio Jr.
Busy, Busy, Busy: This weekend’s Caraway 150 begins a stretch of four races in five weeks for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour with upcoming events at Caraway (April 7), South Boston Speedway (April 14) and again at Caraway (April 21).
Race: Spring Classic 150
Date: Sunday, March 25
Time: 3:30 p.m. (Approx.)
Track Layout: .455-mile, paved oval
2011Winner: George Brunnhoelzl III
2011 Polesitter: Brian Loftin
Event Schedule: Saturday – Practice 12-12:20 p.m., Final Practice 12:35-1 p.m.,Qualifying 2:30 p.m.
The Race: The Spring Classic 150 is the 2012 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour season opener and the 40th event at the track since NASCAR began sanctioning the tour in 2005.
The Procedure: The starting field is 26 cars, including provisionals. The first 22 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 150 laps (68.25 miles) and will include a 10-minute competition caution at, or near, the conclusion of Lap 75.
The Track: Caraway is a .455-mile paved oval that has played host NASCAR touring series events since the 1970s.
The Records … Qualifying: George Brunnhoelzl III, Apr. 11, 2009, 103.987 mph, 15.752 sec.; Race: Junior Miller, Sept. 9, 2006, 90.977 mph, 44 minutes, 31 seconds.
Teammates Expected To Contend For Title
The eighth season for the tour promises to be one of the most competitive ever. Teammates George Brunnhoelzl III and Andy Seuss will have to contend with one another all season long as each has a legitimate shot at claiming that coveted ring at the end of the year.
Brunnhoelzl, fresh off his 2011 title, returns this year with his sight set on becoming the tour’s first back-to-back title winner since Junior Miller accomplished the feat in the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
Additionally, Brunnhoelzl is looking to become the first three-time NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion, having claimed the crown in 2009 as well.
While Brunnhoelzl returns to turn the wheel for car owner Howard Harvey this season, Eddie Harvey has enlisted the services of Andy Seuss for a full-time effort. Last year from July to the close of the season, Seuss collected more points than any other driver as he tried to challenge Brunnhoelzl for the crown before falling a little short.
This season, that dynamic duo, who combined for eight victories in 2011, seem to be the odds-on favorites to win the title.
Last Time Out: 2011 Season Highlights
• George Brunnhoelzl III earned his second career NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour title when he took the green flag at Caraway Speedway in a rain make-up event at Caraway on October 22.
• There were six different race winners across the season’s 14 events. Teammates George Brunnhoelzl III and Andy Seuss combined to win eight of the 14 events with Brunnhoelzl collecting five victories.
• The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour held races across four states and nine different tracks, including an inaugural event at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway, and returned to Hickory Motor Speedway in Newton, N.C., for the first time since 2006.
Up Next: Caraway
Following the opener at Caraway Speedway the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will return to the track for the Caraway 150 on Saturday, April 7. Last season, the second scheduled race at Caraway was rained out and rescheduled for October 1 when Andy Seuss led all 150 laps to claim the victory.