The Southern Modified Racing Series is known as a tire-conservation series, but evidently somebody forgot to tell Brandon Ward and Jeremy Gerstner that as they fought tooth and nail from the drop of the green flag for the 2017 series championship in the 75-lap season finale at North Carolina’s Orange County Speedway.
Gerstner entered the race just 10 points ahead of Ward. The two title contenders started side-by-side in the second row and immediately they showed how hard they were planning to battle.
The championship duo jumped out to first and second right away with Gerstner taking the lead first. By the time the first 10 laps were complete, both drivers had already led a lap and also traded some paint.
That would be the theme of the race as Gerstner and Ward slammed nerf bars all race long.
While Gerstner and Ward battled, Danny Bohn saved his tires to make a charge for the race win. Bohn drove right by Gerstner and Ward to take the lead with 53 laps on the board.
As the laps wound down, it became evident that Gerstner and Ward battled too hard for too long. Gerstner’s tires caused him to drop back to third while Ward fell all the way back to the 10th and final finishing position.
“We had to change our strategy a lot to have a chance to win the championship,” said Ward. “We knew we had to run hard and lead the most laps for the bonus points even though we knew that would hurt our chances to win the race. We had it a little bit too freed up there at the end, but congratulations to Jeremy and them on the championship.”
In just his third start for Phil Stefanelli Racing, Danny Bohn was able to drive his No. 17 machine to victory lane over Burt Myers, Gerstner, Jason Myers and Tim Brown.
“Burt Myers is the king of tire saving,” said Bohn. “To be able to hold him off and take the win is pretty cool.”
For Jeremy Gerstner, winning a touring series championship in North Carolina is one of his biggest career accomplishments.
“This is just insane because we did this in just my third year driving with Grady (Jeffreys, car owner),” said Gerstner. “I won a couple of championships in Florida, but this one definitely means the most to me. Grady turned 75 yesterday, and hasn’t won a championship in about 25 years, so to get his first championship after his brother, Robert passed away earlier this year means a lot.”
For a more in-depth look at Saturday’s Southern Modified Racing Series season finale, check out Speed51.com’s Speed Central coverage here.
Speed51.com will have more from Saturday’s SMRS season finale including video highlights and a video recap still to come on the Speed51 Video Network.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
Southern Modified Racing Series 75
Orange County Speedway, Rougemont, North Carolina
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