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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour



Thompson Intl. Speedway Melts the North South Barriers
by Denise DuPont

AWith 125 laps of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour racing, 125 laps of NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour racing, a 50 lap combo UNOH Showdown race and over $160,000 on the line to win, Thompson Intl. Speedway was the place to be on September 11th. It was very impressive to see the great turnout of cars and fans at the track.

It has been a tough economic year with challenging weather in New England. We have had record snow, rain, tornadoes and a hurricane. So it was kind of fitting that the sun was shining and temperatures perfect as cars united from the north and south to race on the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

The NWSMT portion of the program was certainly an event that everyone will not forget for a long time. During the 125 lap feature event Steve Masse passed Donny Lia for the lead on lap 48 and then dominated the race. A late race caution forced the cars to regroup and get ready for a short sprint from the line. The green flag flew on lap 118 and the race leader was black flagged for jumping the start. Was it a good call or a bad call? Either way the decision was made that Masse jumped the last restart and he was black flagged for the move.

So the call was made and NASCAR stuck to their decision. But the circumstances made for a very controversial end of the race. Masse did not pit for the black flag. George Brunnhoelzl was given the lead since he was running second when the black flag flew. So what happens - two drivers pulled into victory lane, one on their car for a joyous victory and the other on their car for the agony of defeat. Burt Myers summarized the end of the race best as the crowd yelled and booed during the victory lane ceremonies - "Sounds like we are at Bowman Grey here today!"

George Brunnhoelzl was all smiles as he accepted the trophy and accolades for his win of the first ever 125 lap NWSMT event at Thompson Speedway. “It was a good race.”

The #09 team of Brunnhoelzl put together a strategy at the beginning of the race to win. A lot of other teams had a similar plan but the #09 team was the one that made it to the top. “We kind of rode around and saved our stuff. We went green a lot more than we thought so when I was riding and saving the #13 car got a pretty big lead going and we just assumed that we would get a caution and we didn’t. But once we got to second we started to run him down. We were really good on the long runs. If a caution did not come out we would have kept on getting better and better. He (Steve Masse) had a good short run car. I hated that he got black flagged but that is racing. NASCAR frowns upon it (jumping the restart). They let you get away with it once but they are not going to let you get away with it again.”

The #1 team of Burt Myers is no stranger to the Thompson Speedway’s groove. Myers has competed there with the NWMT and has grown to love racing on the track. So it was no surprise to find him in second place when the race ended. The team qualified third and saved their car for the end of the race. They not only had a good finish but conserved the car for the start of the 50 lap Showdown race. “From where we were yesterday when we got here to where we are now, we made a pretty gain. “Today I think that we got our car better which made a big difference. It was a good race for the fans and I had a great car.

After the race, Myers changed out of his driver uniform and chilled out at his hauler. The team waited there for what was to them the best to come. They were regrouping for the next race. The 125 lap NWSMT event was just qualifying for the main even that was still to come – the “50 lap UNOH Showdown” “I am looking forward to the fifty lapper. It is going to be more action than the two 125 lap tour races. 50 laps for fifteen grand can drive a man to do about anything I guess. From what I hearing in the southern race the top groove was where every body was and they say in the northern race everyone went to the bottom. So I am interested to see how it is going to turn out for the Showdown.”

Tim Brown came to Thompson Speedway no knowing what to expect. It was his first time at the 5/8ths oval and he adapted to the track real fast and the racing groove that it had to offer. He qualified seventh and had a consistent race run to capture a podium finish. “We had a good car. This is the first time that I have ever been here so we missed the setup a little bit. The car was way to free for a 125 lap race. The car was spinning real bad off the corners. I like the track it is challenging and a lot of fun. It is big and really fast. It is fairly smooth. There are a few bumps here and there. All and all it has been good for racing. The weather has been perfect and I had a really good time. It is all good. I just love to race and it is a great race track.”

After the race Brown also regrouped for the 50 lap dash for the cash (UNOH 50 lap Showdown). “It is beautiful weather and everybody is a lot nicer than I thought that they would be up here in Yankee land. Hopefully we come out of the 50 lapper with a car the same way that we started all in one piece and not being tore up. And we put a good show on for he fans and head back home to go to work tomorrow.”

Andy Seuss was at the top of the charts during qualifying and took the field of cars around to start the race. He was not as good in the race though. His car was loose and during an early caution Seuss putted for adjustments. The adjustments were good but only good enough for a fourth place finish. “Fourth place is pretty good obviously our expectations were high after a pole and just how fast that we have been all weekend. We were a little bit free in the beginning so we may have faded back to fourth. We needed to tighten it up for the race and we may have gotten it a little bit too tight. Fourth overall is not bad. After the streak and qualifying so well it is just a little bit disappointing we will see what the fifty lapper brings. But trying to close that gap all by ourselves and trying to save it while we closed the gap at the same time was pretty hard.”

The NWSMT return to the south this weekend to compete at Caraway Speedway and its smaller .455 mile oval track.

Thompson Speedway Southern Modified 125 Race Notes:

Your Thoughts on racing back on the Whelen Southern tour.

George Brunnhoelzl
“It is fun. It is close to home. It is a lot less traveling. It was a long haul here but it was worth it. It was cool to see a big turn out. With the Hoenigs, UNOH and Whelen guys coming together like this it is really cool. I think that we have almost sixty modifieds here so it is pretty cool.”

If the race is repeated event at Thompson Speedway in 2012 that includes the NWSMT will you be there?

George Brunnhoelzl
“It was definitely fun. The track did a heck of a good job in helping us southern teams come up. They gave us a fuel packages from Sunoco and they did a good job by us.”

Tim Brown
“Sure, But I would like to be a true southern race and not to let a lot of the northern cars in. That was it is a southern race and not a combination southern–northern race. As it was we outrun those guys that were in our race anyways, which it is good for our guys to do. I am just glad that we had a southern regular win our race.”

Steve Masse ran for a win in the southern tour race at Thompson. He led for quite a few laps but was black flagged for jumping a restart. Here are Masse’s thoughts after the race.

Steve Masse
“I went in the same spot I did in all the other restarts. And I was never warned so I just kind of did what I was doing before. And I did not even get a big jump so I am not sure what they thought.”
“I saw a replay. It looks like I went roughly a car length before the line. But everyone else went with me so it was not like I was way ahead of them and it did not effect anything. Everyone went together and it was a clean start. There is not much more that I can do as a driver.”

On the UNOH Showdown
“We just feel like we just had a win taken away. To go out there and try to put on a show and to start in last place in a race where everyone is going to be trying to boogie to the front. It is not worth it for a team like us. We have only four guys working on this car. We have already gone out there and did what we wanted to do today.”.

  Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: September 16, 2011

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