Once a year for the last six years, the ground-pounding Modifieds invade Thunder Valley and take to the high-banks of Tennessee's Bristol Motor Speedway. It's a combination event for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Each and every event since its inception in 2009 has been won by a driver from the north.
It's been six years, and yet the southern teams are still trying to figure out just what it'll take to beat the guys from up north at Bristol. Two of the southern Tour’s toughest competitors, current points leader Burt Myers and defending champion Andy Seuss, are hoping they have what it takes to stand in victory lane on Wednesday.
"I think we have everything that it's going to take," Myers told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. "It's just a matter of getting everything lined up like it's supposed to. I think we've had a car capable of winning the race. Bristol is so tough because of the way the track changes and getting the car to race well as well as qualify well."
"You can credit us with a win, but until you lift that trophy up, that's what I consider to be winning a race," Myers said.
Myers said he believes that a big part of the North's advantage has to do with the tracks that the northern tour races on. Two tracks in the state of Connecticut are a half-mile or bigger with Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson Speedway (5/8-mile). The northern tour also visits the one-mile oval of New Hampshire Motor Speedway twice a year. The southern tour's biggest track is North Carolina's Caraway Speedway at 0.455-mile.
Seuss, who has raced on some of the bigger tracks in the Northeast but with a different team, agreed with Myers assessment.
"It doesn't pay for a southern team to spend that big of a chunk on this race when the majority of our races are on smaller tracks," said Seuss. "There's really nothing bigger than a Waterford down here. So it's a little bit different there."
Seuss has been a contender for the win at Bristol the last couple of years, but bad luck left him with finishes that don't necessarily reflect how well he ran. So now he's heading to Bristol with a different philosophy.
"This year I'm going with the "better to be lucky than good" theory," Seuss said. "I'm going to pray for some luck. I think we can be right there. We've got good equipment so I'm looking forward to it."
Seuss said a win at Bristol would be the biggest race win of his career, and might even top his championship from last year.
"Not just because it's Bristol, not just because of the amazing banking and the demand it has on the driver, but just because it takes so much effort to be successful at Bristol," Seuss said. "Especially in the Modified."
Both Seuss and Myers agreed that there are some bragging rights on the line for whoever becomes the first southern driver to win at Bristol, but Myers added that some may make that part of it seem more important than it really is.
"I don't think about North versus South," Myers said. "We talk about it a lot and the media likes to play it up, but I don't care. Yeah it would be awesome to say I'm the first southern guy to win it. But I don't care who it is or where they're from. I want to beat everybody."
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor - Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo