After keeping it in his possession for the last 365 days, Danny Bohn wasn’t going to let the trophy from the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race at Bowman Gray Stadium go anywhere else but back home to New Jersey with him.
Bohn, of Freehold, New Jersey, out-dueled George Brunnhoelzl, III on several mid-race restarts, then kept a hard-charging Ryan Preece at bay for his second-straight Tour victory at the North Carolina bullring.
“I know there’s a lot of Dirty South fans out there and I appreciate all my southern fans, but this one’s going back home to New Jersey,” Bohn told the crowd following Saturday’s victory.
Bohn started from the outside pole and followed in pole sitter Ryan Preece’s tire tracks in the opening laps. When Preece suffered a flat right-front tire on lap 14 and pitted from the lead, Bohn inherited the top spot.
Brunnhoelzl then got the best of Bohn on a lap 30 restart and showed the way for much of the middle stages of the race. Bohn would get several shots to regain the lead on restarts, but Brunnhoelzl held strong.
Several caution flags inside the final 60 laps saw Bohn and Brunnhoelzl swap the lead three times before a lap 180 restart spelled doom for Brunnhoelzl, the 2012 winner of the Bowman Gray 199.
Bohn and Brunnhoelzl jammed up on the restart, which caused Brunnhoelzl to get hung up on the inside lane off turn two. Bohn scooted away, but Brunnhoelzl continued to get bounced around off turn four and eventually clipped his right-front tire on the outside wall, ending his night prematurely and allowing Bohn to hold the top spot.
“Georgie got me on that one restart, but I knew I had a really good car,” said Bohn. “He got a good run on the outside and I was just kind of biding my time. He was getting off (the corners) a little bit better, but I think he was getting on the gas a little harder. I knew if I could save my tires and be there at the end, we’d have a good car. I got him on the outside and we bunched up down there into (turn) one and got together. He got a little loose. I got a good run on the outside and after that if I could keep that thing on a rail, there was no stopping it.”
From there, Bohn had to deal with Ryan Preece, who pitted to change his flat tire early and carved his way back up to second place with a bent-up bumper.
Preece jumped a restart from the second position with just nine laps remaining. He was black flagged and had to give up the lead that Bohn would not relinquish.
“I was going kind of in turn four and they were wanting us wait until where the concrete is,” Bohn told Speed51.com powered by JEGS about the last restart with Preece. “On a Saturday night (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified) deal, we start early. (Officials) warned us; they told us again that if we did it again, we were black flagged. That’s why on the restart we started later than we were usually.”
Even with finishing second, Preece, the 2013 Strutmasters 199 winner, was still all smiles after the race with his from-the-back run.
“I tried to do everything I could on that restart,” said Preece. “I knew if we went at the same time, he was probably going to win so I did everything I could and that’s what I have to do a racecar driver. I wish I had a little bit more of a bumper to see if I could give him a little ‘Madhouse bump,’ but second place coming from a back, that was a lot of fun.”
Wesley Chapel, Florida’s Jeremy Gerstner finished a career-high third.
“My right-front wheel got knocked off with 30 to go, but I just went for it,” said Gerstner. “I wish they had tracks like this in Florida because this is awesome.
Burt Myers finished fourth and re-took the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour point lead from his younger brother Jason, who was forced to make several pit stops en route to a 10th-place finish.
Bobby Measmer, Jr. also scored a career-high finish in fifth.
Speed51.com’s 51 Network cameras were on hand at Bowman Gray and will have highlights in the coming days.
The next NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race is a combination event with the northern-based NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 19.
To replay the NASCAR Home Tracks Race Central Live powered by Speed51.com coverage from Bowman Gray, click here.
– By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Director – Twitter: @MattKentfield
– Photo credit: Speed51.com