With Mother Nature delaying the start of the 2018 Southern Modified Racing Series season by seven days, many around the series will have some extra emotion heading into Sunday afternoon. This includes defending SMRS champion Jeremy Gerstner, who caught the attention of Modified racing by beating a roster pack full of Carolina drivers one year ago.
After a year of consistency with just one race win, the Florida driver wants to put a little more flare into his title defense this year.
“We’re going to go defend for sure, but my big goal for this year after winning the championship is to get more poles, my first pole actually, and more wins. We qualified second three times and third about eight times, it’s crazy,” Gerstner said. “For wins we’re going to be a lot more aggressive, we got seven top threes and ten top fives, it was crazy. We want to turn those into four or five wins this year, try and win half the races.”
Gerstner is aware that such a task will be far from easy with some of the best Modified drivers on the East Coast also coming back for a full season slate.
“People act like the South isn’t very competitive, but I can tell you this: you got Burt Myers capable of winning every week. Jason Myers, Tim Brown, those guys have a lot of championships at Bowman Gray, and they’ve won tour championships too,” Gerstner stated. “You also got guys like Brandon Ward, any time he shows up he’s pretty much the fastest guy out there, it’s just a matter of whether they have good luck or not. So, it’s a challenging series. Me being from Florida, I like running with these guys because they’re all class act bunch of guys. Everybody is pretty clean.”
While Gerstner races in the SMRS with the Concord, N.C. based Jefferys family, he still has his own life back in the Sunshine State, which can make things difficult at times.
“It can be tough, like with last week Renee (Hackett) called it off early because of the rain, otherwise it would have been a 10-hour trek up there and 10 hours back for nothing,” he explained. “I own my own business in landscaping, so I got to schedule where I’m off on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. But it makes it kind of nice to get out of town and get up there. But there are times it makes it a hassle, but I love it, it’s worth a 10-hour ride to go run a professional series and be around a great bunch of people.”
With sunny skies on the Sunday forecast this time around in Sophia, N.C., Gerstner will have all his attention on another goal: taming Caraway Speedway.
“Caraway has been my nemesis,” he admitted. “Sad thing is that we go there four or five times every year. I finished second there three times last year. Runner-up to Tim, runner-up to Burt. I think this year we got something a little better for them, we got a new tire that is a little harder which will put the driver back in the seat a bit more. I’m all about being up on the wheel because the car is sliding around, that’s my style. I think it will play into my favor. I’m anxious to try it out, it should help us to be a winning team Sunday and a championship team again this year.”
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-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com