“Yep, were good.” That’s exactly what USA Modified driver Brian Nester said after the very first practice session at Concord (NC) Speedway for the Indiana based group. And good he was, besting the 24 car field taking the front point at lap 21 passing then leader, 2010 USA Modified Series Champion, Brad Springer and never looked back. Nester fended off a hard charging Mike Stacy in the late stages to get the victory at the Series first ever visit to the Concord facility.
As first time competitors, and part of the 8th annual North South Shootout, the USA group was packed with a who’s who of Modified racers representing six different states with various track and series Champions on hand. In qualifying Springer set the fastest time with a lap of 16.722, followed by Modified Champion driver Chad Poole with a lap of 16.830, as Late Model Champion driver Stacy followed up with a lap of 16.837 making it an Ohio sweep of the top three. Nester qualified fourth with a lap of 16.902 around the unique tri angled shaped ½-mile track.
When the much anticipated green flag dropped for the start of the 50 lap duel Springer shot to the point from his pole position as Poole dropped in behind. It was short lived, however, as the yellow would fly when Brian Brewer spun up turn one on the start making slight contact with the wall. On the complete restart Springer once again shot out to the lead as Poole dropped in from his outside starting position. This time two laps got in before the caution would fly as several cars from mid pack got tangled up coming off the turn down the front stretch. This yellow turned red just briefly to clear the blocked track. Once realigned it was back to green flag conditions and just like a broken record Springer and Poole lead the field. As Springer began to open up on the field by several car lengths, Poole had his hands full of a very loose race car with both Nester and Stacy breathing down his tail pipes.
The Springfield Ohio native, Poole, did all he could do until lap ten when his car jumped clear side ways and Nester shot past like a rocket assuming the second position. With a lot of race track to make up Nester went to work running the perfect line in an effort to catch Springer, leaving Poole and Stacy now to duel for third. By lap 20 the throttle pusher Nester was there and at lap 21 in turn one he zipped right on by taking the lead. As Springer started falling back to the duel of Poole and Stacy Nester made tracks of his own pumping daylight to the rest of the field, while at the same time putting several very good race cars a lap down. By lap 31 Stacy had wrestled third from Poole and then second from Springer and set sail. As the race would stay at green flag conditions it was all Stacy could do, just chase Nester. Although he made up some ground, it was too little to late, Stacy would finish second and could only watch ahead as Hamilton Indiana racer Nester grabbed the victory. Springer hung on for third, Quincy Ohio racer Ross Klingelhofer grabbed fourth and Poole rounded out the top five.
“We started the weekend off with a fast car, we where fastest in every practice session,” said the happy winner. “The track was little damp when we qualified and ended up fourth. But, come back and the car was fast today, I had a little trouble with lap traffic. But, I was far enough ahead I was able to ride behind them till they got singled out, it worked out in the long run. The track is defiantly different than anything I have ever been on, but I would say I like it. I got up to the 12 cars left rear tire on the back stretch, obviously his spotter didn’t tell him I was there, at the dog leg and got him sideways. I let him go, then he ended up getting his self side ways later and I got by. Then when I ran Springer down he was a little free, I think once I got beside him he just let me go. I have to thank those guys for clean racing,” finished Nester.
“Great race track, I am really glad they had us down here,” stated runner up Stacy. “It was hard to get started. We have six or seven hundred horsepower and we are on narrow tires, I wish they would have warmed the tires up a little bit more. We made the most of it. We went back to fourth; passed a couple cars got to second, just didn’t have enough for Nester today. Nester was a good car, would like to have beaten him to the front and see what would have happened, but best man won today. Nester was able to get around the 12 car quicker than I was, that could have played a part in it. This is one of the finest race tracks I have ever been too. It’s like a big Kil Kare on steroids, maybe a little bit more banking. It’s just a good time,” finished Stacy.
2010 USA Champ was very happy as well. “It was good run,” started Springer. “First time ever here, track is defiantly a little different. We started out just a little bit too free, we thought the track would tighten up more. The first 25 laps the car was really good, and then it started getting loose. I guess it’s just hanging on to what you can get after that. I think we should come back here every year and give the fans a show, this is really awesome. The guy that put this thing on did a really good job with everything. I want to thank my wife first off, then RaceStatus.com, K&N, Conley engines, NAPA, and Team SC. Without these people supporting us and the fans supporting us we wouldn’t have a place to go race every week,” finished Springer.
The 50 lap event was slowed by only the two early race caution as 24 of the 25 cars on hand took the green flag. Driving a second Chad Poole car, hometown driver Travis McIntire smashed the wall coming to the backstretch very hard in the mourning warm-up session. McIntire was not injured but the car was demolished. The field would line up by qualifying time as the top five where locked in on speed and the rest of the field was to be set by two heat races. However, rains fell and the heats where scratched. Mystic Connecticut driver Ryan Morgan had the farthest tow, and the group was also joined by two Florida drivers, Mickey Wright and Danny Partello, both from St. Pete. USA Mod competitor Kyle Jones family team was voted as the best appearing car. 2009 USA Modified Series Champion Scott Tomasik finished sixth followed by Nick Carr, Jones, Brandon Oakley, and Greg Fullarton to round out the top ten.
109 U-Pull It John Blewett III Memorial North-South Shootout USA Modified Feature Finish: 1. Brian Nester; 2. Mike Stacy; 3. Brad Springer; 4. Ross Klingelhofer; 5. Chad Poole; 6. Scott Tomasik; 7. Nick Carr; 8. Kyle Jones; 9. Brandon Oakley; 10. Greg Fullerton; 11. Ali Kern; 12. Jim Blagg; 13. Chris Tomasik; 14. Rob Yelton; 15. Kenny Phillips; 16. Damon Breedlove; 17. John Karl; 18. Don Skaggs; 19. Brad Yelton; 20. Ryan Morgan; 21. Danny Partello; 22. Brian Brewer; 23. Mickey Wright; 24. Dave Christensen.
Sources: Todd Ridgeway/USA Modifieds PR