Jeremy Gerstner and Tim Brown tallied wins at Caraway Speedway Saturday night, visiting victory lane in the Southern Modified Racing Series’ (SMRS) twin bill at the Sophia, NC facility.
Gerstner won the first race of the evening after a physical exchange with Burt Myers. Myers led the first 35 laps of the 50-lap race, but lost the lead after contact with Gerstner in turn one.
Gerstner would go on to win the race after taking the lead, his first victory of the season in the series where he holds last year’s championship.
“On the restart, Burt got the jump and I tucked in behind him,” Gerstner told Speed51.com. “We drag-raced down the frontstretch. Getting into the corner, he whoa’d up. I locked the brakes up, Tim Brown was behind me, and he hit me.
“I hate it, because me and Burt are friends,” Gerstner added. “I don’t want to race that way, but it’s good to get a Caraway win.”
A disappointed Myers settled for a third-place finish in the first race, citing some frustration with both the circumstances and his car’s performance afterwards.
“I guess the 15 [of Gerstner] just wanted to win really bad,” Myers said. “We missed the setup a little bit. He had the best car. I wish it had been a little bit different circumstances, but we need to get our car a little bit better.”
Tim Brown dominated the second race of the evening. The 10-time Modified champion at Bowman Gray Stadium took the lead on the opening lap after a six-car invert and led from wire to wire.
While Brown’s win was convincing, he was anything but convinced entering the nightcap after a fifth-place run in the opening race.
“Any time you can get to victory lane, it’s a great feeling,” Brown said. “I called the car owner after the first race to tell him, ‘I have to be honest with you, we sucked.’ He said ‘Think positive, you’ve got another race.’ I told him I was pretty sure we’d suck again, too.”
Brown credited his team with the win, making the right adjustments to give him a chance to win.
“The guys made the right call, moving the tires around. We’re back in victory lane. This SMRS tour is awesome, I’m happy to get a win here.”
Myers again landed on the podium, finishing second to Brown. Myers lamented the lack of tire falloff over the course of the evening due to the tire combination utilized by SMRS, which was implemented entering the 2018 season after considerable testing at Caraway as well as New Smyrna Speedway (FL).
“The only thing that can go through your mind on this tire right now is run your tail off and hope you’re good,” Myers said. “It takes, in my opinion, the driver’s ability out of your hands, to be able to hustle the race car and get a little more out of it.
“I don’t know what the fans see, but I don’t see that the racing is as good on this tire but it doesn’t give you a chance to burn your stuff up. When you’ve got guys who are dialed in and burn their stuff up and other guys who try to save their stuff for the end, it makes it interesting. It mixes up. I think the racing on these tires is very predictable right now.
“It is what it is. Everyone’s on the same tires. It’s unfortunate that the change happened, but it did. We’re going to work hard, and we’ll be back.”
Gerstner took a different stance after finishing third to close out the night, saying the amount he used his tires chasing Myers in the first race hampered his ability to pass him in the second.
“We just used so much up the first race,” Gerstner said. “In the second race, we just had no forward bite. We’ll take third. We’re going for points, so we’re looking at the big picture.”
The Southern Modified Racing Series will enjoy a break after Saturday’s racing, with more than a month off before their next race. SMRS returns to action on May 25, visiting Concord Speedway (NC).
For lap-by-lap updates from all of the racing at Caraway Speedway Saturday evening, click here to view our Trackside Now coverage of the event.
-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
SMRS Race #1 Unofficial Results
SMRS Race #2 Unofficial Results