Since the absorption of the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour into the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour this past winter, ventures by southern teams and drivers to northern races has been extremely limited. But now with one race left in 2017, two of the biggest names in southern Modified racing, are teaming up for the famed Sunoco World Series at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
Late Thursday morning, North Carolina based team owner Eddie Harvey announced that legendary NC Modified champion driver Burt Myers will be driving the No. 11 Ideal Racing Modified at Thompson in the World Series October 14 and 15.
“It’s something that him and I have been talking about the last few years in passing here and there, a ‘what if’ thing, and here it is in reality. It has finally become a reality due to the likes of Dunleavy’s, Citrusafe, and a guy by the name of Mark Morefield,” Harvey told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
Harvey has been without a regular driver since he mutually parted ways with Andy Seuss earlier in the season, after a successful number of years together that saw two NASCAR Southern Modified championships.
Myers, a two-time Southern Tour champion himself, has not had the budget to race outside of the South. Then in late August at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN), things took another unfortunate turn with a massive practice crash.
“It’s funny how things can come together, after destroying my car at Bristol it put a big change into my plans. The situation is that right now I don’t have a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour car and Eddie doesn’t have a Whelen Modified driver. We’ve known each other for a long time, we’ve talked about doing stuff like this in the past and it’s finally come together for us,” Myers explained.
“This conversation started a couple of weeks ago when I let him borrow my seat for his car. And Eddie said, ‘Why don’t we leave it in the car and we’ll work out a deal for you to drive my car at Thompson.’ And I said that it sounded like a plan.”
Though they have been opponents at the track for many years, Harvey and Myers have built a lasting friendship that is at last coming together to go racing.
“We’ve been competitors for quite a while, but we’ve always got along. Again we’ve talked about what it would be like if we got together, but that’s just talk, but now it’s happened,” Said Harvey.
“You know how it is in racing, there’s people that you’ve known your whole life, that you see every weekend of every summer. It’s a unique situation. But on the flipside of that, he respects what we do and we respect what he does, and we felt like this was going to be the perfect storm for me to drive his car. His family has been Modified racing as long or longer than we have, he’s got great equipment and a great group of guys. And, God has blessed me with the ability to drive a Modified. I don’t see why we can’t make something happen that benefits us both,” said Myers confidently.
Thompson is a track that Myers has raced at only four times, the last time in 2012. The high speed, high banked, 5/8-mile track is considered by nearly all as a polar opposite to Myers home track, the flat ¼-mile bullring that is Bowman Gray Stadium (NC), where he is an eight-time and defending champion. But Myers has always proved tough outside ‘The Madhouse’ with his multiple touring wins and championships. While he loves racing at home, he always looks forward to mixing it up elsewhere, especially at place as wide open as ‘The Big T’.
“Thompson is a track that I loved the first time I came up there. I’ve been able to run it a couple of times. When you race at Bowman Gray sometimes you get that reputation of a hardnosed bullring driver. I’ve had just as much success at other places in my career as I have at Bowman Gray. It’s refreshing to get away from that sometimes, because you can actually go race, Bowman Gray is more about entertainment. I’m looking forward to getting to race at Thompson and enjoy what I’m doing.”
Confident as ever, Myers expects the transition to be quick and smooth, counting on being a race contender.
“I can’t imagine that we won’t be right there, it may take a little bit for me to get that feeling I like. But he has the same chassis and motors as I have. So it shouldn’t take very long at all to get it tuned in to where it’s comfortable for me. If I didn’t think we could win, I wouldn’t be going.”
As for plans beyond the World Series, Ideal Racing is gearing up for a number of races with up and coming Connecticut driver Chase Dowling, who drove the No. 11 at Bristol. Dowling will team with both Ideal Racing and LFR Chassis house team under Rob Fuller, to run the whole 2018 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule.
While Ideal Racing is using Thompson as preparation for that, Harvey is determined to do more in 2018, preferably with Myers.
“We’re trying to get that with Chase in the works, and hopefully we’ll see what happens after this Thompson deal about maybe doing some more stuff with Burt also.”
It is a prospect that Myers finds very exciting, especially if it brings an opportunity to go to places he has never been.
“It’s one of those deals where we’ll go to Thompson and see what happens. In my situation that I’m in right now, I’m not able to take my equipment up north. If he’s able to field a car up north and I can go drive it, I would love to work out some races up north. There’s a lot of tracks that are on my bucket list, Loudon of course, Stafford, Oswego, Riverhead, you name it. There’s so many that I’ve never raced or never even been to. Looking forward to seeing what the future is going to hold.”
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA, RI & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo