When race fans think of the name Burt Myers, the first thing that normally comes to mind is the television show “Madhouse” and his success at Bowman Gray Stadium (NC), the quarter-mile bullring that he calls home. But this past weekend the Walnut Cove, North Carolina star proved that size doesn’t matter when it comes to his on-track success.
Myers made the trek north for Saturday’s inaugural Musket 250 and his debut at the track called “The Magic Mile.” Competing at a track over four times the size of his home track, Myers caught on quickly and ultimately earned himself a podium finish in one of the biggest races in Modified history.
The two-time NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion took advantage of late-race chaos to slip into the third position on the last lap, earning a spot on the podium in his debut at the Loudon, New Hampshire oval.
Despite committing to chasing and eventually winning a ninth Modified title at Bowman Gray Stadium, Myers was determined to also make the 2018 racing season one of adventure. Teaming with the formidable Eddie Harvey owned team for a part-time slate on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Myers got a chance at many firsts in 2018, going to tracks such Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) and Riverhead Raceway (NY).
But New Hampshire was the big goal, with Myers entering the weekend looking for a solid performance. After a solid practice and qualifying day on Friday, his chances took a turn for the worse early in the race, getting trapped a lap down when a yellow flag came out following his first green flag pitstop of the day just prior to Lap 100.
Managing to stay in one piece in a storm of multiple lapped cars, Myers eventually got in front of then leader Ryan Preece in the late stages, catching a yellow flag at just the right time to catch right up to the leaders. It was a comeback that cemented Myers’ love for the mile at Loudon.
“I could do this every weekend to be honest with you,” Myers stated. “I’ve watched these races on TV, I’ve heard my friends who are Cup guys talk about how the Modified race is the best race of the weekend, and today was a testament to it. I want to thank Whelen, New Hampshire, and NASCAR for putting this on.”
Ironically, it was a weekend that almost never happened. With Eddie Harvey Racing committed to running a car for Jeff Rocco on the weekend, the resources were not originally in place for Myers to make the trip. But before long sponsors stepped up, as did volunteers up north to help crew the car for the weekend.
“This deal came together basically last Friday. Eddie (Harvey), Dunleavy’s, CitruSafe, and everybody that came together to make this happen. I don’t want to sound like a kid at Christmas, but for a 42-year-old to get to come [to NHMS] for the first time, I feel almost giddy.”
The day also presented new challenges for Myers and the rest of the Whelen Modified Tour field. Among those challenges would be the necessity of green flag pit stops.
“In the driver’s meeting, you’re just paying attention, half-paying attention to what’s going on. It’s good to know, but I hear some guys talking behind me about making green flag pit stops. I asked Eddie, ‘Are they kidding?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ It didn’t even hit me that we’d have to make green flag pit stops. We ended up making two; the first time I was too slow, the second time I realized how fast I could get down there. It’s tricky, but I got two shots at it so I guess we did alright.”
Overall, the biggest strain on Myers was not on his body, but his brain. Coping with the challenge of tight racing over 250 laps, with nearly 100 spent a lap down trying to get back on the lead lap one way or another. Afterwards though, in typical Myers fashion, the “Madhouse Master” was ready to do it all over again.
“It’s mental. I don’t know if I can speak for the other guys, but you don’t physically get tired. There’s time for you to get frustrated, you don’t know where you’re at, you don’t know what cars you’re racing with for position. We were joking about our ears ringing; it makes it really hard to hear. You get frustrated, but it’s still a blast, I don’t know about them, but I could do another 250 right now.”
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com