Four-time NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion George Brunnhoelzl III will be making his way north to compete on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2019. The driver known best as "GB3" has reunited with championship-winning team owner Eddie Harvey to drive the No. 1 Modified on the northern-based tour beginning at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on June 5.
Brunnhoelzl previously piloted one of Harvey's Ideal Racing cars to two of his four NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championships in 2011 and 2012. With familiarity and success linking the two together, they both expect a smooth transition period during their reunion.
"We were talking and my wife has been going through breast cancer so I really haven't been racing much," Brunnhoelzl told Speed51.com. "Now she's getting through it and getting back to normal. When Burt decided he was going to run the Stadium and not continue with the north tour, Eddie and I were talking and he said he had some races open. That started it off and we know each other, we've raced together before, I know the team and all those guys. It's kind of like a reunion with us."
"George has been coming around the shop and just talking. He's still a good friend of everybody and gets along with everybody," Harvey said. "He comes by the shop quite a bit. We've always talked about doing it and it just seemed like the timing was right right now. It's kind of like a reunion more than anything. All the guys on the team like George and he likes all the guys. He's worked with them all before. In the past, our communication was spot on with everything and it showed its success right away. With all of that together, I think it's going to carry right over. There shouldn't be any hesitations at all. It should be a smooth transition."
The opportunity for Brunnhoelzl to drive Harvey's car arose when Burt Myers, who drove for Harvey during the first three NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races this season, elected to put his focus on racing at Bowman Gray Stadium. Jeff Rocco filled the seat for the Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway before Danny Bohn took the wheel at Wall Stadium Speedway during the tour's previous event. Rocco is also slated to drive for Harvey at Seekonk Speedway on June 1 before Brunnhoelzl takes the driver's seat at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on June 5.
The race at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park will be Brunnhoelzl's first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start since May 13, 2017 at Langley Speedway. In all, he has made 19 career NWMT starts, with 13 of those coming during the 2010 season.
"I'm looking forward to it. It's been a couple years," Brunnhoelzl stated. "I believe it will take a little bit of time, but being that I know the team I don't have to worry about gelling with them because I've raced with them before. I'll be able to really just focus on getting back to driving and acclimating myself to the tracks again."
After working with a handful of different drivers in recent years, Harvey is excited to reunite with a driver he has already worked with and found success with.
"We're excited to have Georgie back," Harvey said. "I think it was 2011-2012 that he was a part of our team and we won quite a few races and a couple championships, so it was definitely fun. I think the chemistry is going to be good right off the truck."
As for now, the plan for the duo is to compete at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park and take it from there. While the hope is to tackle the remainder of the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule, there are a lot of factors that will help determine if that is possible.
"Not really 100% sure yet. We've got to get through one race at a time," Harvey said. "We're going to start at Thompson and see how it goes and keep moving forward. Everything has got to be in tact: cars, motors and all of that stuff."
With Brunnhoelzl and Harvey reunited on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the competition level will continue to rise in one of the toughest regional touring series in the country.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor - Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com