(UPDATE: Video courtesy of TMRacingVideos)
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour event at Langley Speedway in Virginia had more drama than a mid-afternoon soap opera on television.
The scene began when two of the most prolific drivers in the history of the Tour waged war in the final stages of the event. What happened afterwards is what Hollywood scripts are made out of. There was contact off of turn four on the final lap with one car crashed past the finish line and a war or words between the two drivers. NASCAR initially took the win away from one and gave it to the other, only to reverse their decision shortly thereafter.
Let’s break it down for you.
Burt Myers and George Brunnhoelzl, III had the two best race cars during the Tour's second and final stop of 2014 at the Hampton, VA track.
Brunnhoelzl was the restart leader on lap 137 of the Bayport Credit Union 150. Myers chased him for a dozen laps; he tried to get around the number-28 on the high side and the low side.
When the white flag was displayed Myers overdrove turn one only to see Brunnhoelzl get out of shape off turn two. When the leaders hit turn three, Myers sent his car in for all it was worth to close in on Brunnhoelzl. In turn four the two made contact and Brunnhoelzl hit the outside wall as Myers passed him to be first to cross under the checkered flag. Brunnhoelzl spun and hit the inside wall just past the start finish line.
Myers figured he'd be on his way to victory lane. Instead, Myers was told by officials on the radio he'd be the last car on the lead lap and Brunnhoelzl would be awarded the win.
Video replay was reviewed and Myers' victory was reinstated about five minutes after the first call.
"I am glad NASCAR had tape to review so they decide it was not rough driving and not intentional," said Myers after the win. "I hope George sees it the same way."
It was clear when the decision was in jeopardy that Brunnhoelzl didn't see it the same way. The four-time series champion walked to victory lane with an army of officials and crewmembers around to speak to Myers.
"Burt and I know what was said," explained Brunnhoelzl. "That's all that needs to know."
After getting checked out in the ambulance for a sore shoulder, Brunnhoelzl and members of his crew visited the NASCAR hauler for a discussion with the officials about the incident.
The tour released this statement later in the evening.
"NASCAR was able to use video to review the situation, and after that review, in NASCAR’s judgment the contact did not warrant the penalty, and Burt Myers – who crossed the line first – is the race winner."
Brunnhoelzl didn't agree with the call and says he'll seek a better answer next week.
“With five to go he (Myers) caught us and he was on me for the lead," said Brunnhoelzl. "I am just going to leave it at that. I am going to follow up with Daytona (NASCAR is based in Daytona Beach, FL) on my concerns. The puppets they have here don't do nothing. I'll follow up with someone who matters."
Myers take on the incident was different.
"Georgie was getting really loose up off the corners and that's where I was good at," said Myers. "We were about the same getting in. As he came up off turn two, I noticed he had really gotten sideways. I tried to set it up to make a run and to dive underneath him for the next turn. As we came off turn four we were both sideways. We both came off pretty much in a slide. I got into him a little bit. He was trying to win the race, just like I was."
At first Myers exited the car in disappointment and frustration as he was told he didn't win. That was when the conversation with Brunnhoelzl started.
"I told him before we say anything at all watch the video," said Myers. " I am not going to apologize for going for the win, but the last thing I wanted to do was do him dirty. I gave him parts today and I hate it came down to that. This was just two guys racing their hearts out. I didn't carry him off into the corner and I didn't hook him. I gave him a bump coming off the corner coming to the checkered."
Myers assisted in Brunnhoelzl getting his ride back together after battery and fuel pump problems slowed the 28 team in practice.
After the conversation between Brunnhoelzl and Myers, NASCAR reversed its initial decision and Myers was declared the winner. That didn’t sit well with Brunnhoelzl.
"So when they go with their initial decision and then overturn that, there is something wrong with that,” stated Brunnhoelzl. “I was surprised and appalled how a sanctioning body as prestigious as NASCAR can do something like that."
Brunnhoelzl finished second in what could have been his second win of the 2014 season.
Andy Seuss finished third to maintain the championship point lead. JR Bertuccio and Jason Myers rounded out the top five finishers.
The next chance for Brunnhoelzl and Myers to race each other again will come on Friday, September 5th at Caraway Speedway (NC).
- By Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Operations Manager. Photo credit: Speed51.com