DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — By Tim Southers, NASCAR — Sarah Glenn/Getty Images North America photo —
There is an old saying ‘Good things eventually come to good people’ and that is appropriate for this year’s NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion Andy Seuss.
It has been a long road for the 27 year-old Hampstead, New Hampshire, native. He clinched the title in his 84th career tour start which is the most by any of the six champions to win in the 10-year history of the southern tour.
His parents, Steve and Bobbi – where at least one of them has made it to every one of his starts, logging in over 175,000 miles in the process – brought him down South in 2006. He made four starts in each of his first two seasons, picking up his first win in only his fifth start at Nashville (Fairgrounds) Speedway.
Although winning his first championship might have taken longer than he might have envisioned back in 2006, he still enjoyed hoisting the champions trophy at Charlotte Motor Speedway this past October.
“We have been working so long to get this championship and it was such a relief when we finally were able to celebrate in Charlotte,” said Seuss. “When we first came down here we thought we would give it a year or so and see how things went and we won our first race just about a year after we came down to race and things just fell into place.”
Not sure what his family-owned team would be able to do moving forward, Seuss was then approached by veteran team owner David Riggs and his Riggs Racing team led by his son Jeff.
This was no ordinary team; they had won the first two NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour titles with legendary driver Junior Miller behind the wheel.
The team gelled quickly and, although they didn’t get their first win together until the season finale in 2008 at Caraway, Seuss knew he had found a home.
“I have been so fortunate in my career to have the opportunity to partner up with some great people and with David and Jeff giving me that opportunity in 2008 I was able to learn and get better as a driver,” Seuss said.
The partnership would produce seven more wins together until tragedy struck the team in late 2010. Jeff Riggs passed away unexpectedly in November, leaving Seuss’ plans for 2011 up in the air.
“That was just such a shock to everyone,” Seuss added. “He was the guy who gave me my break in this sport and I wouldn’t be the driver I am today without him and David and it was just a tough time for everyone.”
After making a handful of starts for veteran Winston-Salem, North Carolina, car owner Bryan Fishel, Eddie Harvey and his father Howard decided to field a second car out of their Ideal Racing shop and Seuss jumped at the chance to drive their modified.
He finished third in their first race together at Caraway Speedway in July of 2011 and the new partnership was another smooth transition for everyone.
Seuss and Eddie Harvey picked up their first win together just one month later when they returned to Caraway and the duo have won 10 races together and now a championship since they teamed up 47 races ago.
“To be able to team up with Riggs Racing was awesome and then to have another great ride come along when Eddie called is just a blessing,” Seuss added. “It’s a ride every driver wants and I was lucky enough to get it and we have been able to accomplish a lot of great things together.”
Seuss has usually been a second-half of the season kind of driver and has been able to use wins to close in on the title but never quite getting close enough. He has finished second in the points standings in 2009 and 2011.
The difference this season was that Seuss and Harvey started the season on a roll, winning two of the first three races in the series and eventually three out of five to take the lead in the standings.
That quick start helped the team in the second half of the season as three-time defending champion George Brunnhoelzl III was making his charge for a fifth crown.
Seuss finished every lap of competition except one this season, when he spun on the final lap at Bristol Motor Speedway in August. After that race things just didn’t seem right for Seuss even though they still finished in the top 10 in the next two races.
“We fought the car and fought it and I eventually told Eddie something just didn’t seem right with the car,” Seuss said.
Harvey decided to check out the car and he found that a lower control arm and the chassis was a little bent so they took it to Brad LaFontaine at Northeast Race Cars and once they put on a new clip Seuss was back up front challenging for wins.
“To me that stretch we had with the car bent and still able to finish with top-10s and top-fives showed just how strong a team we have at Ideal Racing,” Seuss added.
Harvey echoed those same sentiments.
“We assumed we just had suspension damage and when we found the chassis damage, Brad and his group just did a great job getting us back to where we needed to be and we are very thankful to him and his staff for helping us get that fixed so quickly so we could stay in the hunt for the title.”
Although Seuss didn’t get back to Victory Lane he was able to finish the season with three consecutive top-five finishes and hold off Brunnhoelzl by 14 points.
Now Seuss can get ready to enjoy his title with crew members Reggie Newman, Jimmy Harvey, Justin Wells, Justin Link, Mike Paris, Sammy Williams, Charli Brown and friends from RAHMOC Power that supplied the engines this season.
“This is going to be a time to celebrate but I wished David (Riggs) could have been here to celebrate with us too,” Seuss said. “I wished he was here with us, but I know he is not suffering anymore and that is all that matters. He wanted to see me do well in this series and we were able to bring home a title thanks to Eddie and I know he would have enjoyed seeing us get the trophy on stage.”
The elder Riggs succumbed to cancer just days before Seuss clinched the title in Charlotte in October.
Seuss will celebrate with the other Touring Series champions at the NASCAR Touring Series Awards on Dec. 13 in the Charlotte (North Carolina) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.