SMT: Caraway VI preview

BRIAN LOFTIN HAS HIGH HOPES AS NASCAR WHELEN SOUTHERN MODIFIED TOUR RETURNS TO CARAWAY SPEEDWAY SEPT. 24 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 21, 2005) -- While Junior Miller and Burt Myers have waged a close battle for the inaugural NASCAR Whelen ...

BRIAN LOFTIN HAS HIGH HOPES AS NASCAR WHELEN SOUTHERN MODIFIED TOUR RETURNS TO CARAWAY SPEEDWAY SEPT. 24

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 21, 2005) -- While Junior Miller and Burt Myers have waged a close battle for the inaugural NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship, Brian Loftin hasn't let the leaders get too far out of his sight. Loftin, of Lexington, N.C., is ranked fourth in the championship point standings and has been one of the most consistent performers on the Whelen Southern Modified Tour in recent months.

His season began on a sour note, with two DNF's (did not finish) in the first two events. Since then, however, Loftin has been running at the finish of each event -- and often near the front of the pack. In nine starts this season, Loftin has finished outside the top 10 on just three occasions. Despite the improved results in recent events, Loftin is not taking anything for granted.

"Really, I feel like we've struggled all year," Loftin said. "We've got another car this year, which we ran in the last three races. We won the first time out with it at Caraway and since then we've kind of gone downhill with it."

To overcome those problems, Loftin is returning to his older race car for this Saturday's NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified 150 at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C. The 150-lap event marks the Tour's sixth and final visit of the season to Caraway.

"This week, we're breaking out the car from last year, which we ran at Martinsville," Loftin said. "We had trouble with it at the beginning of the year, in the first two races, but we've got that straightened out now and it's our best piece. It's got our best motor in it and everything. Hopefully, we'll be 'good to go' to the finish [at Caraway]."

Loftin, 28, says his team has confidence in the tried and tested machine, despite the early-season setbacks -- and that a good race car makes all the difference at Caraway.

"It really takes a good handling car to win at Caraway," Loftin said. "You've got to have a good car from start to finish, because you can't use up too much at the beginning with a loose-handling race car. That was our problem in the last race; we didn't have anything left after about lap 100. I was sideways more than I was straight and just couldn't get any forward bite (grip)."

Loftin finished eighth in the Tour's last visit to Caraway, on Sept. 10, and won there in July. He was the highest-finishing Whelen Southern Modified Tour driver in the Made in America Whelen 300 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Labor Day weekend.

Loftin, a veteran of the former Southern Modified Auto Racing Teams (SMART) Tour, says he is pleased with the first year of the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.

"I'm very happy with what NASCAR has done," Loftin said. "They've definitely added a level of professionalism and added a lot of exposure for all of us that I know we've never seen before. Hopefully, it's building towards something even bigger and better."

Saturday's NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified 150 begins with an afternoon practice session from 4:00-4:45 p.m. followed by Bud Pole qualifying time trials at 6:20. The race will get the green flag at approximately 8:00 p.m. The Whelen Southern Modified Tour returns to action Oct. 1 at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va.

Fast Facts

What: NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour 150

Where: Caraway Speedway, Asheboro, N.C.

When: Saturday, Sept. 24 at 8:00 p.m. (approx.).

Posted awards: $19,217.

Race length: 150 laps, 68.25 miles
Track layout: .455-mile oval.

Pre-Race Schedule: Registration begins 1:00 p.m.; Practice 4:00-4:45 p.m.; Bud Pole qualifying 6:20 p.m.

Top 10 Drivers: 1. Junior Miller 1,442, 2. Burt Myers 1,423, 3. Tim Brown 1,333, 4. Brian Loftin 1,314, 5. Michael Clifton 1,312, 6. Jay Foley 1,277, 7. Jay Hedgecock 1,270, 8. Alex Hoag 1,260, 9. Frank Fleming 1,192, 10. Bobby Hutchens 1.187.

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Junior Miller , Burt Myers