For the past two years, Modified racing has been in a constant state of flux throughout the Southeast, with the end of the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour after 2016 causing the most amount of ripples. Teams and drivers have slowly been settling into the new climate of the south still dominated by the weekly racing at Bowman Gray Stadium and joined by the rise of the Southern Modified Racing Series.
After drifting around most of 2017 running a scattered schedule, one of the biggest names in the south, George Brunnhoelzl III joined up with one the big team names, Hillbilly Racing, for select events during the fall, forming the base of a new driver-team relationship. Now for 2018, Brunnhoelzl and team owner David Hill are taking the relationship to the next level with GB3 coming on full-time for the 2018 Bowman Gray season.
“It really came about recently. We had been going back and forth trying to figure out what we were going to do. They know the stadium and after the success they had last year they wanted to go back improve upon it. So we sat down and we finalized it a couple of weeks ago,” Brunnhoelzl told Speed51.com.
Establishing himself as a tour racer for the past decade, this will be the first time Brunnhoelzl will compete on a weekly basis at “The Madhouse.” After much success on the road, “GB3” is ready to embrace a new challenge.
“I’m looking forward to it, it’s a new challenge. I’ve been fortunate enough to win four NASCAR (Whelen) Southern Modified Tour championships and won a lot of races down here. I won at Bowman Gray in a Tour race (in 2012), but running there weekly is something I haven’t done with Modifieds in the South. It would be cool to win some races at the Stadium and hopefully go for a championship at the only track that runs Modifieds weekly in the South.”
While Brunnhoelzl is with one of the best operations that runs at Bowman Gray, he knows that the campaign ahead will require some changes to how he competes each race on the tight quarter-mile.
“You definitely have to go into Bowman Gray with a different mindset, a different set of patience, and a different attitude. It’s a different type of racing obviously, so getting into that mindset will be fun and something to adapt to. But I think I could do pretty well.”
While the BGS schedule is the top priority, the No. 79 team does not plan to stay there all season long, with the possibility of them running other tracks in both the North and South, especially following the end of the Stadium season in late August.
“We are still contemplating on what other races were going to do. We will pick and choose some Southern races on the SMRS tour and hopefully some Northern races on the Whelen Modified Tour. That would be great. The team is one of the oldest teams and names from the south that have been around forever that have run up North. My family name goes back up north, so it’d be nice to go to the Stadium and then put the two names together up North.”
The 70th season of racing at Bowman Gray Stadium begins on Saturday, April 21 with the Hayes Jewelers 200 for the BGS Modified division.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com