SUTTON LEARNING THE ROPES AS NASCAR WHELEN SOUTHERN MODIFIED TOUR GETS READY TO RACE AT BOWMAN GRAY STADIUM DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 2, 2006) -- NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour driver John Sutton hasn't exactly set the racing world on...
SUTTON LEARNING THE ROPES AS NASCAR WHELEN SOUTHERN MODIFIED TOUR GETS READY TO RACE AT BOWMAN GRAY STADIUM
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 2, 2006) -- NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour driver John Sutton hasn't exactly set the racing world on fire so far in 2006, but the 18 year-old Harrisburg, N.C. driver didn't expect to come into the series and be able to beat the likes of championship competitors such as Junior Miller, Tim Brown and Burt Myers right away.
Sutton knew it wasn't going to be an easy task and that was going to take a lot of learning, experience and patience to get to the point where he's a threat to win every time he sits behind the wheel of the No. 79 Great Southwest Mortgage Chevrolet.
"This is my first year and I'd like to be finishing better than how we've been finishing so far but we've had a little trouble here and there," said Sutton. "We've made a few changes so hopefully we'll be better this Saturday night at Bowman Gray and be able to run up towards the front. I'm just trying to get experience and earn the respect of all my fellow drivers. I don't want to get in the way of the leaders or the guys battling for the championship. This year has been a year where I'm just trying to get experience and seat time."
Sutton and the rest of his Whelen Southern Modified peers return to action this Saturday night at the legendary Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. in the Advance Auto Parts 199. Qualifying is slated for Friday night at Bowman Gray.
Sutton admits that the racer inside him makes it hard to just pull over and let the leaders go and not cause anybody any problems hasn't been the easiest thing in the world to go through.
"It's been pretty hard for me because I'm a competitive driver who wants to run up front," said Sutton. "We've had some problems this year with the handling of our car, power steering and being a little down on horsepower. I'd like to be running up front with the leaders but things happen. It just takes time. It's been hard, but hopefully getting this seat time and experience is going to help me out in the future."
One challenge that has faced Sutton through the first five races of the 2006 Whelen Southern Modified Tour season has been poor qualifying efforts followed by his battles to record respectable finishes.
In the first race of the season at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C., Sutton qualified 16th only to get caught up in a wreck and finished 25th. In the following race at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, in Greenville, S.C., in early April, Sutton qualified 21st and finished one lap down in 13th. The following weekend at Caraway, Sutton qualified 25th and ended up 16th. At Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., Sutton struggled with a 20th place qualifying position and finished 17th. In the last Whelen Southern Modified Tour race at Caraway, it was a 20th place qualifying effort followed up by a 17th place finish.
"We've been struggling in qualifying a little bit," said Sutton. "It's just something we've struggled with since the beginning of the season because I usually am a pretty good qualifier. Hopefully we can get that turned around this weekend at Bowman Gray and carry that through the rest of the season."
The importance of racing at a track with the history behind it like Bowman Gray is not lost on Sutton.
"I've heard that place is packed with fans every week," Sutton says. "The first time I'd ever seen the place was last weekend when I went up there and watched the Modified guys practice to see the lines the drivers use and how the cars run there. I understand the fans in that area are about as passionate as they get about the racing at Bowman Gray. I'd say this is probably the biggest race of my career up to this point and I'm hoping we can come away from there with a good finish."
What: Advance Auto Parts 199 (Race No. 6 of 13 in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour)
Where: Bowman Gray Stadium, Winston-Salem, N.C.
When: 8:45 p.m. EST (approx.), Saturday, August 5, 2006
Track layout: ¼-mile paved oval
Race length: 199 laps/49.75 miles
Posted awards: $22,912
2005 winner: Burt Myers
2005 polesitter: Burt Myers
Top 10 in points: 1. Junior Miller -- 855; 2. Tim Brown -- 757; 3. Burt Myers -- 720; 4. Brian Pack -- 671; 5. Bobby Hutchens Jr. -- 663; 6. Gene Pack -- 652; 7. Jason Myers -- 649; 8. Brian King -- 634; 9. L.W. Miller -- 621; Jay Hedgecock Jr. -- 615.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Fri. Aug. 4 -- 12:00 noon Haulers enter; 1:00 p.m. Registration and Inspection begins; 3:30 p.m. Drawing to determine order of qualifying; 4:00 p.m.; 5:00 p.m. Mandatory driver's meeting; 6:00 p.m. Alternating practice; 9:00 p.m. Time trials. Saturday, Aug. 5 -- 4:00 p.m. Garage opens and inspections begin; 5:00 p.m. Mandatory driver and crew chief's meeting; 5:30 p.m.; 8:45 p.m. Advance Auto Parts 199.