- Last Updated on 12:21 PM 04/23/12
- BY Doug Ford
Brandon Ward likes racing at South Boston Speedway, and the Winston-Salem, N.C. resident likes it even more after winning his first NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour (NWSMT) race Saturday night at the .4-mile oval in the South Boston 150.
The win was Ward’s first in 17 starts in the Whelen Southern Modified Tour, with Ward becoming the fourth different winner in as many Southern Modified Tour events at South Boston Speedway.
Ward, who already owns a win and three top-five finishes in the former USAR Pro Cup Series at South Boston, took the lead from defending tour champion George Brunnhoelzl III on lap 131 and beat one-time South Boston Southern Modified race winner Andy Seuss of Hampstead, N.H. to the checkered flag by 1.368 seconds.
Southern Modified rookie Danny Bohn of Freehold, N.J., collected his second straight top-five finish in the series with a third-place finish, while Kyle Ebersole of Hummelstown, Pa., and pole sitter L.W. Miller of Dushore, Pa., rounded out the top-five finishers in a race marred by eight cautions for 40 laps.
Miller, who qualified on the pole with a time of 14.466 seconds (99.544 MPH), led for only two laps before Brunnhoelzl took over, leading until the halfway break and beyond before Ward, who qualified seventh in the 27-car field moved up to challenge the West Babylon, N.Y. driver on lap 131.
With Ward and Brunnhoelzl side-by-side and battling for the lead the cars made contact, with Brunnhoelzl spinning and hitting the wall.
Ward led the remaining laps, while Brunnhoelzl rallied for an eighth-place finish.
Seuss, who won the inaugural NWSMT race at South Boston in 2009, rallied for a second-place finish, despite an on-track incident with Ebersole on lap 38, which sent him to the pits.
“When that happened, I was shaking my head and telling myself it was going to be one of those nights, and even coming up through when I got to fourth or so, I was really hanging on,” said Seuss.
“The lanes just opened up right, and the car was good, the best car out there.”
“We’re real happy, but it’s a shame we’re not in Victory Lane,” Seuss noted.
From his vantage point, Seuss described the battle between Ward and his teammate as “hard racing.”
“…People driving over their heads, and that’s a shame…I ended up losing a racecar because of that, and I don’t want to see races won and lost like that anymore,” said Seuss.
Bohn’s podium finish came despite his seeing the track for only the first time Saturday morning.
“The first time I saw the track was when I pulled in here this morning,” said Bohn.
“Every time we went out we learned a little bit, and we’re still trying to figure out the car. It’s a brand new car.
“The first 110 laps I just tried to hang around and keep my nose clean.
“When you get down toward the end you need to really need to go, the car seemed to work really good on the bottom, and we just started picking off cars one by one.”
The last few laps were easy compared to the laps following the last restart of the race, where he and Brunnhoelzl tangled, according to Ward.
“We were having to race the 09 car (Brunnhoelzl) hard for the lead,” Ward said later.
“He had a good car. I felt we were better and we needed a few laps to get going.
“Restarts are tough at South Boston, with the start-finish line so close to turn one. You can’t beat the leader to the line, it makes it tough and we were racing as hard as we could.
“I got loose underneath him and he had a run on the top, and I washed up the racetrack and got into him.”
“I really hate that happened,” added Ward. “He’s a great competitor in this series, but all-in-all this Fishel Racing team put a great racecar together.”
Part of Ward’s strategy was to save his racecar for the second half of the race.
“We wanted to get at least another spot before the halfway break, but we knew we were going to have to run too hard to do it, so we kept all four corners on it the first half of the race,” said Ward.
“With the adjustments we were going to make, we knew we would be really good and from the drop of the green for the second half of the race, it was really good.”
Ward noted he has been fortunate enough to have a number of good finishes at South Boston in different types of racing series.
“I love this race track,” said Ward. “We’ve run the USAR Pro Cup Series here, the Hooter’s Pro Cup Series, NASCAR Goody’s Dash cars and now the Southern Modifieds.”
“It’s just great to come back and run some races in this series. Trying to run back and forth in the Pass South Super Late Model series and the Southern Modified series, we’re not able to run all the races here, but thanks to Fishel Racing, they’ve put together a program where we can come here and run on a limited schedule.
“I love this series, and right now we’re just trying to race wherever we can.”
NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Race
Pos. Driver Laps
1. Brandon Ward 150
2. Andy Seuss 150
3. Danny Bohn 150
4. Kyle Ebersole 150
5. L.W. Miller 150
6. Thomas Stinson 150
7. Burt Myers 150
8. George Brunnhoelzl III 150
9. Renee Dupuis 150
10. John Smith 150
11. Tim Brown 150
12. Frank Fleming 150
13. Jonny Kievman 150
14. Chuck Hossfeld 150
15. Gary Putnam 150
16. Darryl Lacks 150
17. Mike Norman 135
18. J.R. Bertuccio Jr. 124
19. Donnie Lacks 124
20. Jason Myers 89
21. A.J. Winstead 64
22. Joe Scarbrough 52
23. Brian Loftin 40
24. Bryan Dauzat 28
25. Michael Speeney 18
26. Gary Fountain 18
27. Rich Kuiken 2