NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour News & Notes - Caraway Championship Battle A Three Car Race Miller Reflects On His Year As Champion 2008 Special Award Standings Loftin Heads To Caraway Hoping To Wrap Up First NASCAR Title There...
NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour News & Notes - Caraway
Championship Battle A Three Car Race
Miller Reflects On His Year As Champion
2008 Special Award Standings
Loftin Heads To Caraway Hoping To Wrap Up First NASCAR Title
There are three NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour drivers heading into this Saturday night's Whelen 150 at Caraway Speedway with championship hopes and dreams on the line.
Brian Loftin (No. 23 L&R Transmissions/QMF Solutions Chevrolet) is the current championship leader by 35 points over Tim Brown (No. 83 Hayes Jewelers/Triad Auto Sales Chevrolet). Defending Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion L.W. Miller (No. 36 John Baker Plumbing & Utilities Pontiac) is third in the standings, 67 points back of Loftin.
Loftin can earn his first NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship with a seventh-place finish, regardless of the efforts of Brown and Miller.
"This weekend is definitely the biggest moment of my racing career, even though I approach this as just any other race because anything can happen," Loftin said. "I'm just trying to not get too hyped up about it because anything can happen this week.
"We're just trying to take the time to look everything over so we can try and make sure we don't have any mechanical issues. Hopefully we can have a good clean event and finish this championship battle off."
Brown said he is simply looking to extend on what has been a tremendous 2008 season with his third straight win at Caraway after going through an 18-year winless drought at Russell Hackett's beautiful .455-mile short track.
"To be honest, until the last couple of races I've never liked Caraway all that much all that much," Brown said. "We'd been good at Caraway before, but never good enough to win like we have the last couple of races at this place. All the guys on my team have just kept working and working and found something that I like when it comes to Caraway. I tell you what these guys are the best in the world when it comes to working on my cars.
"We were able to gain a few points last weekend on both Brian Loftin and L.W. Miller so it was a good night for us. Everything is good right now and I'm just happy to be a part of this race team."
Brown admits he needs Loftin to encounter some misfortune to open up the door for his shot at the championship.
"I told all the guys on my crew that all we can do at this point is to go out and do the best we can do and if the championship works out for us then great, if not we did all we could do," Brown said. "We've won several races this year so that's nothing to be ashamed of because we have a great car and a great team. We've always been in the hunt for the Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship and that's all you can ask for.
"If we keep doing what we've been doing one of these championships is eventually going to fall our way. I know deep down in my heart that I'm a guy that's capable of winning one of these Whelen Southern Modified Tour championships. Winning this championship is eventually going to happen as long as we keep working hard and staying consistent so we'll have another shot to win it next year."
Brown has finished runner-up in the championship standings the past two seasons. He lost out on the title by six points to Junior Miller in 2006, and ended 2008 just 25 points behind L.W. Miller.
The goal for Brown this weekend at Caraway is really rather simple.
"I'm going to Caraway trying to sit on the pole and win the race," Brown said. "If Brian Loftin has a hiccup or stubs his toe, that's great because it will give us a better shot at winning the championship. No matter what happens on Saturday night -- if we win the championship or not -- we're going to walk away with our heads held high because this was a great season for us.
"Since it is the last race we just want to make sure some mechanical mistake doesn't take away from our chance at the championship. All we can do is race hard and try to win and just let Brian have his own race and see how it all plays out."
Loftin admits that the biggest potential obstacles are the problems like mechanical issues or a flat tire which is something he has no control over.
"The mechanical preparation is there and that will be taken care of," Loftin said. "There's always a chance that a wreck can happen in front of me and I don't have anywhere to go. Stuff like that can and does happen -- I got a chance to find that out last Saturday night when L.W. Miller spun out right in front of me.
"To be honest I'm not all that accustomed to being in this position. I'm used to just going out and trying to win races and not worrying about points. I guess I'm kind of a checkers or wrecker type of driver. That's a lot more fun because I don't like taking it easy and worrying about the points."
Loftin has certainly figured out the fast way around Caraway. Over the last seven races dating back to last year, he has four wins and two runner-up finishes. Since he closed out the 2007 season with back-to-back wins, his worst finish was a third in this year's opener.
The pressure will start to sink in for Loftin during Saturday evening's Coors Light Pole Award qualifying session, as he tries to earn a top starting spot to begin 150-mile quest into the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour record books and become only the third champion since NASCAR started sanctioning the Tour in 2005.
"It's all going to depend on where we qualify, but we have to look at the big picture which is the championship," Loftin said. "We're going out to try and win the race as well as the championship. I want to win the race but more importantly I don't want to have any mechanical problems. Hopefully we'll have some luck on our side, but if it's not meant to be it's not meant to be. We just have to keep our fingers crossed that everything goes our way."
So should fans expect to see Loftin be careful and just try and keep his car in one piece if things get a little too heated in front of him?
"It is nerve-wracking but we've tried to not worry so much about the points," Loftin answered. "Going into the last race of the season, you can't put being the point leader out of your mind."
Loftin admits that if he is able to hoist the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship trophy following Saturday night's race, it would without question be the highlight of his racing career.
"To be a NASCAR champion is something I've dreamed about since I was a little kid," Loftin said. "That's what I race for. When NASCAR took over the Southern Modified Tour in 2005 it made it possible for me to become a NASCAR champion one day. That's huge in anybody's career because there are only a handful of people who can say they were a NASCAR Touring champion. I just want to put my name on that list because nobody can take that away from me."
The Race: Caraway 150
The Place: Caraway Speedway, Asheboro, N.C.
The Date: Saturday, Oct. 4
The Time: 8 p.m. ET
Track Layout: .455-mile paved oval
Race Purse: $25,920
2007 Winner: Brian Loftin
2007 Pole: Brian Loftin
Schedule: Saturday: Practice 4-4:45 p.m., Time Trials 6:30 p.m.
News & Notes
The race: This event is the 11th of 11 races on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour schedule. It is the sixth of six races in 2008 at Caraway Speedway.
The procedure: The starting field is 24 cars, including provisionals. The first 24 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining two spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 150 laps (68.25 miles).
The Track: Caraway Speedway was built in 1966 and remained a dirt track until 1972 when it became a NASCAR-sanctioned track. The .455-mile asphalt oval has been owned and operated by Russell and Valastra Hackett since 1977.
Race Winners: There has been 22 Whelen Southern Modified Tour race at Caraway Speedway. L.W. Miller (No. 36 John Baker Plumbing & Utilities/Sink Towers Pontiac) and Brian Loftin (No. 23 L&R Transmission/QMF Solutions Chevrolet) are tied for the lead with six victories apiece. Junior Miller (No. 69 Express Auto of Kernersville/Hayes Jewelers Dodge) has five wins. Ted Christopher and Tim Brown (No. 83 Hayes Jewelers/Triad Auto Sales Chevrolet) have two wins apiece, and Burt Myers has one victory.
This Season: L.W. Miller opened the season with a win at Caraway March 22. Loftin won the next two (April 12 and Aug. 22), while Brown has won the last two (Sept. 6 and Sept. 27)
Pole Winners: Myers holds the record with seven Coors Light Pole Awards. Jay Hedgecock has four, followed by Loftin and Junior Miller with three apiece. Tim Brown has two. Andy Seuss won his first career NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour pole award at the Aug. 22 race.
The Records: Loftin holds the qualifying record at 15.783 seconds/103.783 mph set Sept. 22, 2007.
Suspension: Burt Myers will not compete in Saturday's event, as he serves his one-race suspension for violations found during post-race technical inspection following the race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway Sept. 20.
Miller Reflects On His Year As NASCAR Champion
Defending NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion L.W. Miller heads into Saturday night's Whelen 150 at Caraway Speedway with a chance to earn his second straight title.
The Dushore, Pa. native is a long shot at pulling off the feat, as he enters the race third and 67 points behind leader Brian Loftin. Tim Brown sits between Miller and Loftin.
"We've got a shot at it and that's about all you can ask for," Miller said. "In reality if I have any chance of making those points up I need for Brian and Tim to both have problems early in the race on Saturday. Those two guys are so good and consistent I really don't expect to see that happen. You never know what's going to happen in racing though."
Even if he doesn't win his second straight title, Miller is pleased with his No. 36 John Baker Plumbing & Utilities Pontiac team's efforts throughout the course of the 2008 season.
"We've had a great season," said Miller, who has two wins, five top fives and nine top 10s in 10 races. "We've been pretty consistent and we have no reason to hang our heads down. We've won races and poles and that means a lot to us. At least people will know we were a factor this year.
"If Brian Loftin goes on and wins the championship -- good for him because he earned it. The same goes for Tim Brown because that team is as consistent as they come."
Miller won the season opener at Caraway and added a victory at Ace Speedway. He is tied with Loftin and Junior Miller with the most wins in the tour's history at 10.
Miller also noted that he hoped to be remembered for the way he conducted himself as the champion.
"That's the main thing I'm proud of," Miller said. "I want and hope to be remembered as a good champion that represented NASCAR and the Whelen Southern Modified Tour in the best way I possibly could.
"If I don't win this year's championship it will just make me and this whole team come back even stronger next year."
End Of The Season Brings A Bevy Of Birthday Celebrations
There are several members of the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modifier Tour racing community that will be celebrating birthdays during the month of October.
Those NASCAR Members names are listed below in alphabetical order with their date of birth in parentheses.
Doug Adams (2nd); Kimberly Baker (4th); Bobby Boyles (7th); Jason Brewer (31st); George Brunnhoelzl (28th); William Calacchio (25th); Michael Clifton (12th); Jeff Cline (2nd); Ed Cox (16th) Bryan Fishel (9th); Steve Havness (Sept. 21st); Ronnie Holbrook (8th); Robert Isley (25th); Grady Jeffreys Sr. (20th); Chris Mason (2nd); Tony Rigney (14th); Mark Ruhhman (13th); Jason Southern (11th); Chris Trysor (25th); Brandon Ward (11th) and Robert Writesman (6th).
One special birthday of note will fall on Sept. 31 when legendary Greenville-Pickens (S.C) Speedway promoter Tom Blackwell turns 80 years old.
Championship Banquet Slated for Oct. 17
The coronation for the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion will take place at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. Friday, Oct. 17.
The banquet marks the culmination of NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified's fourth season. In addition to crowning the champion, the top drivers and owners and special award winners will be honored.
The new Twin City Quarter includes the luxurious 315 room Marriott Hotel, the upscale 146 suite Embassy Suites Hotel and the Benton Convention Center with a combined total of 170,000 sq. ft. of flexible event space under one roof.