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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour




Southern Traditions Continue As Race Families Grow NASCAR With The New Generation
Denise DuPont

It was a week of celebration with a variety of events leading to the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards at the Hall of Fame convention center ballroom in Charlotte, NC. Throughout the week of celebrations, 2013 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour (NWSMT) champion, George Brunnhoelzl., III, from West Babylon, NY, participated in special functions and received several awards for his accomplishment. This was the fourth overall NWSMT championship for Brunnhoelzl and the second out of the four in the family owned modified. The NWSMT series was established in 2005 as the cousin to the northeastern-based NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT). Brunnhoelzl now holds the record for the most NWSMT championships. “Both teams that I have won my four NWSMT championships have provide me with great equipment. Both are great teams all around. It is a little more special though to drive in your own family car for my dad and his partner.”

Brunnhoelzl held off hard charger Kyle Ebersole to capture this year’s highest honors by a margin of thirty-one points. Unlike his previous NSWMT titles where he led the point chase from the first race, Brunnhoelzl was not in the point lead as the 2013 race season started. This year the Myer’s brothers each captured a win to start their year pushing Brunnhoelzl out of the top spot. “It was really a great year but it was challenging. This year just was more competitive then it has been in the past years. Which just goes to show how much the southern tour is expanding their competition. And the car count has also increased. In the one show that we had a mechanical issue the tour had a good field of cars which is great. We all want that but when you have an issue it puts you that much further back. It is really great that the series is growing and I hope it continues to grow. It makes it harder but in the same respect it makes you better.”

The Brunnhoelzl family has been involved in racing for several years. Getting behind a modified in the southern tour, George Brunnhoelzl, III has continued the family’s strong race tradition. “Going forward, I hope that I can continue what we have been able to do and just keep going for championships. In a family car and with my dad’s partner backing us, it is an awesome team.”

Luke Fleming of Mt. Airy, N.C. captured the tour’s ‘Sunoco Rookie of the Year’ honors after returning to the tour full-time in 2013. Fleming had five top-tens in the 12 events and ranked eighth in the final standings. “We are really excited about getting this award tonight. There are a lot of people here that are going to see us receive this award and it is going to look good on my resume for a long time. The way that NASCAR sets the rookie point system up, it is very tough to be able to lead or loose a lead. It keeps it interesting is what they have done. It was a tough year. We had to point’s race a lot but we are just happy to lock it up. This coming year we are going to race for wins instead of points.”

Coming from another family of racers, Fleming was born to race and is proud to bring the family tradition forward. “Racing is just something that is in my blood. I was born and raised at the race track and it is the only thing that I know to do. We take a lot of pride in our racing and in our family it is just something that we continue to pass on from generation to generation. It is something that is very special to my family.”

“It is really cool.” Andy Seuss of Salisbury, N.C., said about receiving the “Most Popular Driver” award for the NSWMT. “Anytime that anybody ever notices that you are at a race, let alone if somebody is pulling for you as their favorite driver takes me back to when I was a little kid hanging around Star Speedway and I had my favorite driver. And I voted weekly for the most popular driver. So to think that there are a bunch of little race fans out there pulling for me is really neat. Of course the support from our team, my family and all the pouring in of votes on line is impressive. It is both really neat and very humbling. And as I said it is really cool to think that I was that little kid that was cheering for my favorite driver and now I am getting those cheers.”

Growing up, one of Seuss’s heroes on the track was Mike Stefanik. So it was kind of special to him to receive the popular driver award along with one of the drivers he cheered from the sidelines as a kid. “Anytime you can have you name in the same sentence as Mike Stefanik's is really neat. So this is one of the cooler moments and I will definitely cherish it.”

Going into the last race Seuss was third in the point’s chase, only one pint out of second spot and was looking to clinch a runner up finish in the series. But an incident at Charlotte left him with an eleventh place finish and dropped him to fourth in the championship standings. “We had bad luck at the beginning of the season with motor issues. We had bad luck in the middle of the season and ended up on our roof and a bad last race where we could have ended up runner up in points. But we actually fell to fourth which was heartbreaking. Overall though the last thing on our mind was points but wins. We got three wins in a row which was important. Hopefully we learnt a lot this year and we can take it all into next year.”

Once again, the lights are off, the cameras put away, the stage disassembled- the celebration is complete. The trip home was one of reflection and also a time to formulate a plan on what it will take to be back on that stage a year from now. Less than 65 days to the ‘UNOH Battle of Beach’ at Daytona on February 18th, the kick off to the 2014 season will be here before we know it.

See you next race season!

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour 21013 Banquet Notes:

Reflecting on 2013 race season, what was your major highlight of the year?

George Brunnhoelzl, III

“It is hard to put a pinpoint on any major highlight this year. It was just a great year all around. There were highs and lows but it was pretty much all around great.”

What gives you the zest and energy to go out on the track and drive your heart out for a race win?

George Brunnhoelzl, III

“Determination, really determination and competitiveness just makes you want to go.”

Luke Fleming
“It is linked to my family tradition – I do it for my family and it is just what we do. That is what drives me and that is my passion.”

Andy Seuss
“It is just fun. Anytime that you get to run wide open – You know saving the tires shows your patience but the drive to the front whether you decide to do it at the beginning or race middle or save your tires to th end, that s the most fun that you are going to have in a race car. Place like Bristol Speedway where you are going to get a change tire or where the tires do not wear out, you get to run 150 qualifying laps and that is about the most fun that you will have all year. It is just pure ecstasy inside and that is what drives us. Also the thrill of victory. Showing off what the crew did with the car. Showing off that it is better than anybody else’s so you can make the move around somebody. I think all of that is what drives us. “

What has moving down south done to your race career?

Andy Seuss

“It is a completely different style of racing than the northern tour. I have had better opportunities in the south. When David Riggs and Eddie Harvey call you to drive their race cars that is what you do. I just never had opportunities or winning ride offers like that in the north tour. But it is more about patience and saving your tires in the southern tour. We did get the half-way breaks to swap tires that allows you to be a little more aggressive. But overall it is a totally different kind of racing and it has shown that I am more committed. Moving down south has put me in contact with more people and I am trying to further my racing career by just a little bit. So we will see. This off season may be big. I am working a lot of deals on different cars and hopefully in the next few months something big will happen for me before Daytona.”

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: December 22, 2013

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