Tom Time Blog: Dirt Trackin’ at Harris and Ground-Poundin’ at Caraway Make For Delicious Race Weekend

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Blog By RaceChaser Senior Editor Tom Baker – Photo By Grant Halverson, Getty Images/NASCAR –

Spring fever hit the RaceChaser Online offices this weekend and since our much-appreciated managing editor Jacob Seelman was in Myrtle Beach tooting his horn with the Winthrop University “Pep Band” for their conference “hoops” tournament, I decided to venture out both Saturday and Sunday to tracks in the area and check out what was going on.

Saturday’s designated stop was a historic dirt track called Harris Speedway in Rutherfordton, North Carolina.  Harris was opened in the 1950’s as a NASCAR dirt track, and the annals show both Ned Jarrett and Richard Petty as past victors there.  In recent times it’s become a staple for local dirt racing.  On a typical Saturday night, over 100 cars roll in to compete in various divisions as 1000 spectators enjoy the show.

Promoter Scott Childress was happy to see 80 cars on hand just for the day’s practice session and a pretty good crowd in the stands as well!  I was just happy to see cars going around a race track when I didn’t have to be dressed in three layers of clothing for a change and the excitement was palpable.  The Harris season opener is this coming Saturday, March 15th.  Get on Facebook and search “Harris Speedway” or go to HarrisSpeedway.com if you’d like more information.

As soon as church service ended Sunday I jumped in the RaceChaser and headed north to Asheboro for the season opener at Caraway Speedway, featuring the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour along with Late Model Stocks, Limited Late Models and Legends.

It was a gorgeous afternoon to be at a track and it was one of the biggest crowds I’ve seen at Caraway in a while.  Robert Tyler got it done in the Late Model Stock 100 but not without having to fend off the challenges of Tommy Lemons, Jr. for most of the race.  Dillon “Spark Plug” Bassett did his usual “sit back and wait” routine until just past halfway when he started to methodically race to the front, taking second from Lemons and then bopping Tyler’s back end as they came through turns three and four to the checkered.

Dillon fell short by a half-car length, but he definitely gave the fans their money’s worth just with that last ditch effort.  Tyler was a deserving winner and the features were off to a good start.

The Legends were next and Brandon McKenzie dominated, leading all 25 laps in his Kyle Beattie Racing-prepared car.  Kyle himself raced for second late in the going, pedaling his sharp No. 84 as fast as he could to hold off another “team car” driven by a determined Blake Spears.  Spears, driving this year with a passion I haven’t seen from him in a while, wanted by the boss in the worst way, but Kyle’s experience allowed him to hang on to the runner-up spot.

Now it was time for some “ground-poundin” as the mighty modifieds took to the 4/10-mile oval for their 150 lap season lid-lifter.  Andy Seuss qualified on the pole and grabbed the lead at the green flag.  He never gave it up.

It was a dominating performance.  It was also a very exciting race.  J.R. Bertuccio ran second for much of the event right on Andy’s bumper, and George Brunnhoelzl III made his presence felt after halfway.  It was good to see Danny Bohn have a strong race and youngster Joe Ryan Osborne qualify fifth and run in the top ten along with Spencer Davis in the Hillbilly Racing car.

Of course, no Southern Modified race would be complete without Burt and Jason Myers.  Jason qualified up front but Burt didn’t.  He started 16th and had to charge his way forward.  He was knocking on the door of the top five just before halfway.

When the checkered flag flew it was Seuss, Brunnhoelzl, Bertuccio then Burt and Jason Myers in the top five.  I enjoyed the race tremendously and look forward to seeing more as the season rolls on.

Thank you to the folks at Harris and Caraway for their hospitality, and to the officials with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour for their help as well.  You can go to www.CarawaySpeedway.com and http://hometracks.nascar.com/series/Whelen-Southern-Modified-Tour for more info on these folks.

Wherever you live, remember that if the local tracks and regional series aren’t healthy, the “major leagues” of racing won’t be either.  Get out and support your local short track this year and travel and see some different types of racing if you can.  I’ll do my best to bring you a variety of different reviews and profiles of grassroots racing as I can this year and suggest some places that should be on any short-track racing fan’s bucket list as well.

It looks like another nice weekend in store for the Carolinas…I wonder where I’ll be makin’ tracks this week?

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