The last lap of Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Prestoria Farms 150 at Caraway Speedway featured all that can be exciting, nail-biting and scary about short track battles to the checkered flag.
From the outside lane, Danny Bohn powered to a win over Brian Loftin on his inside by just 0.019-seconds. While the two banged side nerf bars to the checkered flag in a photo finish and thrilled the fans, a hard crash behind them spoiled strong runs and perhaps the championship efforts of others.
George Brunnhoelzl, III, who entered Saturday’s race nine points behind championship leader Andy Seuss, was turned into the front stretch wall in a last-lap melee off turn four that also included Bobby Measmer, Jr., Gary Putnam and others. Brunnhoelzl walked to an awaiting ambulance, but he was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.
The 12th-place finish for Brunnhoelzl, combined with Andy Seuss’ escape from the last-lap fracas to finish fourth, gave Seuss a 17-point advantage going into the final NWSMT race of the season on October 9 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
When the Tour gets to Charlotte, undoubtedly there will still be some buzz over the crazy last lap at Caraway that saw Bohn win, in his words, by inches.
“That was awesome,” said Bohn of the photo finish. “That’s what racing is all about. I have a lot of respect for Brian and he has a lot of respect for me, obviously. We were bouncing off each other, but I gave him room and he gave me room. I’m sure he hates that he lost, but I may have beat him by two or three inches on the outside.”
Loftin also credited Bohn with a clean run to the checkered flag, even if the official NASCAR timing and scoring showed him as the runner up by less than two hundredths of a second.
“Whatever happened at the end there, we were both going for all we were worth,” said Loftin. “I was just going for everything I could. Me and Danny were bouncing off each other. He was pinching me down and I’m trying to get more room. It was a lot of fun. We drove each other clean, but we both wanted to win really bad.”
Bohn won the Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day at Caraway. He gave way to Burt Myers, who entered the race third in points, on lap six. Myers led until the leaders pitted for new right-rear tires on a lap 88 caution flag period.
Gary Putnam took the lead for a few laps after the pit stops cycled, which were his first laps led in 44 career NWMST starts. That lead didn’t last long as Myers used the high lane to go from third to first on lap 98.
Myers remained in command until lap 130 when the sway bar mount broke on his No. 1 car, taking him out of the race. Loftin inherited the lead and continued to show the way until a final green-white-checkered restart when Bohn got the best of him on the high side coming to the checkers.
Bohn didn’t even know he had crossed the line first.
” No. Honestly, no,” said Bohn. “He was ahead of me off turn four, but this thing had such good drive off the corners all day. I thought I was maybe running a little too hard at the beginning, but it never gave up. I knew I was going to have the car underneath me, it was just how it was going to turn out.”
Loftin finished second with Kyle Ebersole, Seuss and Luke Fleming rounding out the top five.
Spencer Davis finished sixth and extended his lead in the NWSMT Rookie of the Year standings, followed by JR Bertuccio, Daniel Speeney, Mike Norman and Bobby Measmer, Jr.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will conclude the 2014 season on Thursday, October 9 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
– By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Director. Twitter: @MattKentfield – Photo credit: Brenda Meserve/Speed51.com