Stafford Springs, CT — Harkening back to the days of modified yesteryear, 4-time Southern Whelen Modified Tour champion George Brunnhoelzl, III has filed an entry for the 45th Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler®. Brunnhoelzl has made one prior start in “The Greatest Race in the History of Spring” back in 2010 where he retired early due to a handling issue and finished 29th. He will be looking to improve upon that finish behind the wheel of the #28 Dunleavy’s Truck & Trailer Repair/Composite Technologies Chevrolet.
“Our plan is to come up to the Sizzler® and see what we can do,” said Brunnhoelzl. “I’m definitely going to feel like the outsider with not having the experience at Stafford that most of the Tour guys do. I have a great pit crew so we have high hopes for fast and quick pit stops and I really think we can do well with this Troyer TA2 chassis we have. Ryan Preece and Woody Pitkat both ran this type of chassis last year at Stafford and they showed some speed. I really think that we can improve a little bit off of their notes and we’re hoping that we can get a good strong top-5 finish. I really have to thank Doug Dunleavy and Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair. Doug is my biggest supporter and he’s the reason why we’re able to make this trip for the Sizzler®. I also have great support from Oval Speed, Robert Yates Race Engines, and Composite Technologies.”
When you look at the Southern Whelen Modified Tour record book, you’ll find Brunnhoelzl’s name splashed everywhere. He holds series records for most wins in a season with 6 and in a career with 27, most pole positions in a season with 6, most laps led in a season and in a career, and he has the most top-5 and top-10 finishes in a season. In his last 6 full seasons of NSWMT competition, Brunnhoelzl has won 4 championships and twice finished as the championship runner-up.
Brunnhoelzl’s 2016 season has gotten off to a great start with 2 wins in the first four Southern Whelen Modified Tour events, but he knows he faces a challenge with the competition of the Northern tour drivers at Stafford.
“I’m going to feel like a rookie with my limited experience on the Stafford oval and there’s going to be a learning curve with the drivers,” said Brunnhoelzl. “There’s guys like Ryan [Preece] and Teddy [Christopher] who not only have tons of laps in a Tour car but they run the SK’s weekly also. They probably have more laps around Stafford in a weekend than I do in my whole career. I never like to leave the shop without thinking we can win and if we can get a good grasp of the tire I think we can be right there fighting for the win.”
Often times a good qualifying effort is half the battle in getting a good finish in a race. Based on his 2010 performance in qualifying for the four Stafford Whelen Modified Tour races, Brunnhoelzl feels confident he can have another good qualifying effort that will go a long way towards helping him get that top-5 finish he is looking for in the race.
“I like Stafford, we ran 4 times there back in 2010 and we always had a good qualifying effort, but we always seemed to run into issues during the race so we never had the finishes to show what kind of speed we had,” said Brunnhoelzl.
Another factor that may help Brunnhoelzl close the experience gap is race strategy. With an extra 50 laps to run in the race rather than the usual 150 lap distance that is the standard for most all Northern and Southern Whelen Modified Tour races, strategy can play a big part in who is among the contenders for victory when the race is nearing its end.
“I think the strategy will definitely be shaken up a little,” said Brunnhoelzl. “All of our races down south are 150 lap races and fuel is not in the equation. For instance we ran Concord this past weekend and that’s a half mile track but it was a 150 lap race and fuel wasn’t a question. I know with 200 laps at Stafford fuel does come into play so it’s something that has to be thought of and it’s going to play with your strategy for sure.”
Depending on how things play out during the 2016 season, the NAPA Spring Sizzler® may not be the only time we see Brunnhoelzl and the #28 Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair team at Stafford.
“For now this is a one-shot deal but we’d love to be able to come back up to Stafford later in the year,” said Brunnhoelzl. “It all depends on financing and how things go for us.”
Tickets for the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $38.50 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $42.00 for all ages. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers free parking with overnight parking available. All tickets are good for both Saturday and Sunday admission. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Discount Tickets are available at 57 participating NAPA Auto Parts stores throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. For a full list of the 57 locations, call the speedway office or visit us on the web at www.staffordmotorspeedway.com/participating-napa-auto-parts-stores.
-Stafford Motor Speedway Press Release
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com