April 2, 2014 — By Jason Cunningham, NASCAR — photo courtesy Getty Images for NASCAR — DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Even though he reached Victory Lane three times in the first half of the 2013 season, it was the consistent top finishes down the stretch that secured George Brunnhoelzl III a fourth NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour title.
In 2014, the native Long Islander has picked up right where he left off.
Entering Saturday’s South Boston 150 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, Brunnhoelzl has posted finishes of second and third, respectively, through this season’s first two events at Caraway Speedway and Southern National Motorsports Park. The 2014 start is quite similar to the 2013 finish, when he closed out a third straight title with six podium finishes.
Likewise, this season’s start is eerily similar to that of last year. Brunnhoelzl, originally from West Babylon, N.Y., was second in the 2013 opener at Caraway and finished fourth at Southern National. A run of three straight wins then began with the South Boston 150.
So does that all set up for another Brunnhoelzl win at South Boston and eventually a fifth tour championship? Only time will tell, but if past performance predicts future results, then Brunnhoelzl is well-positioned to continue on his path of success.
The Race: The South Boston 150 will be the sixth all-time race for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour at South Boston Speedway, and the first of two in 2014.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field is 26 cars, including provisionals. The first 23 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining three spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 150 laps (60 miles) with a 10-minute break at or near the conclusion of Lap 75.
The Track: South Boston is a .4-mile high-banked asphalt oval located in South Boston, Va. The facility features NASCAR Whelen All-American Series-sanctioned events on Saturday nights throughout the racing season, headlined by the late model division.
Race Winners: Each of the previous five events at South Boston has produced a different winner. Andy Seuss won the tour’s inaugural race there on April 4, 2009.
Pole Winners: There have been three different pole winners in the previous five events. George Brunnhoelzl III is the only driver with two, and qualifying was rained out in 2011. L.W. Miller holds the NWSMT track qualifying record at 14.466 seconds and 99.544 mph, set on April 14, 2012.
SOUTH BOSTON RACE NOTES
Ebersole a Driver to Watch at SoBo: The sample size may be small, but Kyle Ebersole has a history of success at South Boston. In two previous starts at the .4-mile speed plant, Ebersole has posted an average finish of 3.5. His first appearance there in 2012 resulted in a fourth-place finish, which marked his first career top-five.
Good Track for Smith’s Return: John Smith did not attend the first two races in 2014, but the South Boston 150 shapes up as an ideal opportunity to get back in the groove. Smith is the only driver to post a top-10 finish in each of the previous five all-time NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour races at South Boston. His best finish there was fourth, recorded last year.
Davis, Hillbilly Racing to Run Full Southern Schedule: Although it is North Carolina-based, Hillbilly Racing has long fielded a full-time entry in the northeastern NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and ran select NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour events. The No. 79’s focus has switched for 2014, however. With Dawsonville, Ga., rookie Spencer Davis behind the wheel, Hillbilly Racing plans to run the full southern tour slate and compete for championship and Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, and will look to run the northern tour races that don’t have calendar conflicts. The first of those schedule challenges is this week, when the No. 79 will head to South Boston instead of Thompson (Conn.) Speedway Motorsports Park for the northern tour opener. The team’s first Whelen Modified Tour event is currently scheduled for May 23 at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.
HOME TRACKS: SoBo Late Model Season Underway
The 2014 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season is well underway at South Boston Speedway, led by the track’s famed late model division. Past national champion Peyton Sellers swept twin 100s on opening weekend and Austin Thaxton was victorious the last time out. The late models will run twin 75s this week as part of the race card headlined by the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Lee Pulliam, the reigning NWAAS national champion, is also the South Boston track titlist.
LAST TIME OUT: Caraway
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour was scheduled to contest the Prestoria Farms 150 on March 29 at Caraway Speedway, but the event was postponed due to rain. A rescheduled race date for the Sophia, N.C., track will be determined at a later time.
NEXT TIME OUT: Langley
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will next head to Langley Speedway on Saturday, April 12. The Langley 150 is a new addition to the schedule as, for the first time in 2014, the .396-mile oval in Hampton, Va., will host the tour on two occasions. A return trip is slated for Aug. 30. Kyle Ebersole was victorious last summer at Langley.