Out of the shadow of the 2020 COVID-19 Lockdown, Brian Robie had an amazing summer and fall, sweeping the NHSTRA Modified track titles at Claremont Motorsports Park, Monadnock Speedway, and Hudson Speedway; seizing the NHSTRA Modified Battle for the Cup, winning the New Hampshire State Title for the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series, coming fifth in the NASCAR Division 1 National Championship.
In 2021, the Sunapee, NH driver is poised to follow all his efforts up with his first Tour-type Modified title on the Modified Racing Series. There’s just one obstacle left, well two actually. Twin 50-lap races to finish off the MRS season this Saturday at Lee USA Speedway.
But, no matter what happens at “New Hampshire’s Center of Speed” this weekend, Robie is happy with how things have gone, including getting his first MRS/Tour-type race win back in the summer at Wiscasset Speedway in Maine.
“No doubt, I didn’t really know what to expect coming into this year when we didn’t plan on running for points in any series. We wanted to do more open shows and get better with the Tour-type Modified. To turn out to where we were in contention all year with MRS for the points and pull ahead in points the last couple of races, a couple of unfortunate races for Jacob Perry kind of gave us the advantage here,” Robie told Speed51.
“It’s nice to be in position to win the MRS championship. We’ve done well with the weekly series with the Crate Modified, but we were lacking with the Tour Mod. We took a swing at it this year and hit on something right out of the gate at the beginning of the year, and have been able to carry it to now. It’s been a good year for us.”
Unlike the other three NHSTRA tracks, Lee USA is the only track not to host NHSTRA Crate Modified races weekly, with Russ Conway’s Oktoberfest this weekend being the lone appearance for both MRS and NHSTRA in 2021. While Robie may not have as much track time there, it is still a track that has been good to him.
Last time there, he swept Twin 35’s with his NHSTRA Crate Modified on Oktoberfest 2020 to secure the NHSTRA Modified Battle for the Cup.
“Lee has treated me quite well, just a couple of minor issues there, but overall I’ve had a couple of good runs there. I had one of my first podium finishes with MRS there, and just strong runs in general. When we’ve started in the back there we seem to get hard charger awards. I really like Lee, it’s a very fun track, it’s got a smooth but abrasive surface. You got to save your stuff, but you got two lanes to race with. I’m looking forward to getting back there.”
However, with both 50-lap bouts each counting as full MRS points races, the chances of running into trouble are doubled, with his 38 point lead over Jacob Perry entering Oktoberfest not being nearly enough to lock up the title with the two races left on Saturday. But, with Lee USA’s unique nature, don’t expect Robie to fall to the back to stay safe.
“Our biggest concern is just staying out of trouble, whatever that means. If we have to go a little bit harder early in a race to be in a position to stay away from trouble that may be the better thing to do. Unfortunately, with the points racing you get away from how you would normally run the race. If that means running harder, especially in the first one, that might be the thing to do.”
On the positive, the shorter distances play to Robie’s advantage, somewhat.
“We know how to set the cars up for a short run, but again the wrench in that plan is how abrasive Lee is. Even a 50-lap race is a long race with how abrasive the surface is. It’s kind of an in between thing with Twin 50’s there, you’re set up for a short run, but the car is going to change. It’s a mixture of a Crate setup and a Tour setup all in one.”
When the green flag ultimately flies on Saturday night, all Robie can do is race as smartly as possible, and let the chips fall where they may.
“We have a buffer, but we’re not locked in by any means. Anything can happen at Lee, especially with twin races. So, we’ll hope for the best, and play the cards the best we can. See if we can come out on top.”
See racing on both Saturday, October 2 and Sunday, October 3 from Russ Conway’s Oktoberfest at Lee USA Speedway live on Speed51.TV.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Correspondent – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51