For only the second time in 10 years, the North-South Shootout trophy will remain south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Burt Myers used a perfect mixture of a fast race car and solid pit strategy to top a strong field of 29 Tour-type Modifieds to win the 17th Annual North-South Shootout on Saturday afternoon at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC).
For Myers, who is best known for his success at Bowman Gray Stadium (NC), the win is the third victory of his career in the prestigious race. However, it was his first win in the race since 2009 at Concord Speedway (NC).
"I'm telling you, man. To beat Eddie's (Harvey) car, listen, I've drove that car and I know how good it is. Andy (Seuss) behind the wheel, Jon (McKennedy), Jason (Myers) and Matt (Hirschman); this is the best of the best," Myers told Speed51. "To be able to say that we won this race again and do it here on our home turf an hour from home, I'm almost at a loss for words."
Myers started the 150-lap race from the pole and enjoyed an early battle with defending race winner Jon McKennedy. After each taking their time at the front, Myers and McKennedy made their way to pit road late in the race for fresh tires. That gave the lead to Anthony Nocella, who fended off all challenges until Myers used his three fresh tires to rocket back to the lead.
From there, it was "The Ace" ruling the night and parking his No. 1 Modified in victory lane at "America's Most Famous Short Track."
"We had two strategies: pit early and get a right rear, and then ride until later and get three. The car was too good. I said, 'Man, we've gone too long. We can't come in now.' We just waited until late and got three," Myers explained. "Me and Jon (McKennedy) were able to push the 60 (Hirschman) and the 99 (Dowling). I know they were riding trying to save their stuff and we were able to push them. It was just one of those night where everything worked out and we had a good car on top of it."
Andy Seuss, who started 22nd after a subpar qualifying effort, turned in an impressive performance throughout the race on his way to a second-place finish.
"We just missed it yesterday, and we just had to stick to our plan," Seuss said. "The car was good in practice. We just picked our way through the field, had a little different pit strategy. Actually had a flat tire about halfway through, so that kind of threw everything out the window. We stayed out late because we didn't have any tires with the flat tire. We were just battling those guys on new tires, just a little down on grip. To come up one spot short, you know, we're sandwiched between the guys that started first and second and we had to start in the back. Overall, pretty good. You always want to win, but in reality it was a good day. Haven't worked with this team for almost two years, so it feels good to come back here and almost get the win."
The team Seuss speaks of is the Eddie Harvey Racing team, the team which Seuss paired with to win two NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championships. In a one-off deal, the driver and team reunited for a strong performance at Hickory.
"It's like riding a bike. It's like we never skipped a beat," Seuss said. "Great chemistry, great guys, it's a complete team. There's no egos and everybody is trying for the same goal. There's enough people to do everything and they know their jobs. It was just like we were back to championship form."
After winning last year's North-South Shootout at Concord Speedway, McKennedy was once again a contender for the win before ultimately settling for a third-place finish.
"I thought we had a really good car the whole race, just an unfortunate last set of tires there with like 35 to go or whatever it was," McKennedy said. "We were just too loose getting into the corner. I'm not sure if the stagger opened up or what. It's a little disappointing. We had such a great car for the majority of the race, it just went away a little bit at the end. Good effort on everyone's end. Everyone worked their butts off all weekend, and here we are with a podium finish."
A pair of Race of Champions (RoC) Asphalt Modified Series regulars, Andy Jankowiak and Austin Kochenash, completed the top five.
Following the completion of the event, race fans will be able to watch a full on-demand replay of the 17th Annual North-South Shootout on the Speed51 Network.
North-South Shootout Unofficial Results (Pending Tire Analysis)
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51 Content Manager - Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51 / Kyler Hope