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CONCORD, N.C. -- George Brunnhoelzl III clinched his third NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship just by taking the green flag Thursday night. And then he closed out the season in style as he went out and led every lap en route to his sixth win of the season in the UNOH Southern Slam 150 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
It marked the 17th career win for the West Babylon, N.Y., driver and his first on the quarter-mile oval on the frontstretch at Charlotte. Brunnhoelzl also became the first driver to win three NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified titles, breaking a tie he held with Junior Miller (2005-06)
Brunnhoelzl won the championship in 2009 and 2011. He entered Thursday's finale leading Jason Myers by 43 points. After winning the Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day with a track-record lap, Brunnhoelzl jumped to the lead over second-place Ryan Preece and controlled the entire race.
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Preece, who is in the thick of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship battle to be decided Sunday in Thompson, Conn., finished second in Charlotte. Burt Myers finished third, followed by Danny Bohn and Andy Seuss.
"It was a great day for us today," said Brunnhoelzl after his historic win. "We set the car up good in practice and we were lucky enough to get the pole award and start up front and that helped out."
Brunnhoelzl led every lap and said that patience is key when racing at Charlotte.
For Preece, his runner-up finish was another sign of how much he enjoys racing the quarter-mile tracks down south.
"It was a lot of fun today and we had a really good car, but George was just a tad better than us but we are happy with our run tonight. I just want to thank my family, girlfriend and sponsors for all their support."
Myers ended his up and down season on a positive note and looks down the road after his solid finish in the season finale.
“This will give us a little momentum heading into next year and hopefully we can avoid some of the things that held us back this year in the standings,” Myers said.
Bohn wrapped up the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title and was happy with how he performed during his rookie season.
“We accomplished a lot of our goals we set when we started the season,” Bohn said. “We wanted to win a race and win Rookie of the Year. We accomplished both of those goals and really think we could have won another race or two if we had a little luck. We’ll take our win and guaranteed spot for Daytona and get ready for February.”
Fellow rookie Kyle Ebersole was sixth, and Ted Christopher, Frank Fleming, Jason Myers and Gary Putnam rounded out the top 10.
Brunnhoelzl finished 53 points ahead of Bohn and 56 ahead of Jason Myers.
Brunnhoelzl, by virtue of his win in the season opener, already earned a locked-in spot to the UNOH Battle At The Beach next February on the .4-mile oval at Daytona International Speedway. Race winners and the champions of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour have a locked-in spot to Modified race at Daytona.
Brunnhoelzl will be honored for his title run along with NASCAR's other touring series champions on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the NASCAR Touring Series Awards at the Grand Ballroom of the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
George Brunnhoelzl is congratulated by NASCAR's Jerry Cook in Victory Lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway after winning his third NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship Thursday night. Getty Images for NASCAR