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For the first time in the history of the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, there is a three-time Tour champion.
George Brunnhoelzl III blitzed through the competition for most of the season – compiling six wins and never finishing outside the Top-10 in 11 races en route to his second consecutive Tour title and third in the last four seasons. Brunnhoelzl's accomplishments may have been the highlight of the 2012 season, but he was hardly the only noteworthy thing to happen. Here's look back at the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour over the past year:
BABY ON BOARD: In a season marked with memorable trips to Victory Lane, Brunnhoelzl's favorite was the one he made at the conclusion of the Firecracker 150 at Caraway Speedway in July. Just days after the birth of his daughter, his first child, Brunnhoelzl tied Brian Loftin for the most career wins at Caraway (eight) with the victory. Brunnhoelzl wasn't even sure he was going to make it to the race track that weekend. His baby had been born prematurely, and with concerns for his daughter and wife's health at home, the championship-winning driver had to make sure that his family was his top priority before heading to the speedway. He made his appearance at the track count – winning the pole, leading every lap and holding on over a restart with three laps remaining.
RETURN TRIP: Brian Loftin made his first appearance in Victory Lane since 2009 when he won the season's second race at Caraway Speedway in early April.
Not only was the victory the first of the season for Loftin, but it was a particularly emotional win for the Lexington, N.C., driver – marking his first win since the passing of his wife in 2011. Loftin led the final 103 laps of the 150-lap event after qualifying in the third position. Loftin now has eight career Caraway Speedway victories – tying him with Brunnhoelzl for the most in the Tour's history – and 12 career Whelen Southern Modified Tour wins.
STREAKING: Ideal Racing's Andy Seuss won the GreenPointe Energy 75 at Thompson International Speedway in Thompson, Conn. – a staple track on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour circuit where he has plenty of prior experience. Seuss led more than two-thirds of the event for his only win of 2012 and the 12th of his Whelen Southern Modified Tour career. With the Thompson win, Seuss extended his run to six consecutive years with at least one Tour win, the longest such winning streak in Whelen Southern Modified Tour history.
BOHN'S BEST: Rookie Danny Bohn used a veteran's approach to grab the lead with eight laps remaining in the Mid-Atlantic Shootout 150 at Caraway Speedway in early October, driving away at the end for his first career Tour victory. In five races at Caraway Speedway, Bohn posted an average finishing position of 6.4 – finishing no worse than 11th in his final four races at the track this season. Bohn's win helped cement his second-place finish in the final 2012 point standings.
EARLY FIREWORKS: The 2012 season got off to a heated start at Caraway Speedway, when an exciting rivalry from the previous season carried over into the new year. While battling inside the Top-3 with less than 60 laps remaining, Seuss and L.W. Miller tangled on the backstretch of the .455-mile oval, leaving Seuss' car destroyed and Miller hanging on for a third-place finish with a damaged car. The feud started at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2011 and was certainly still boiling when the two drivers started racing again in 2012.
WARD WINS: Part-time Whelen Southern Modified Tour competitor Brandon Ward scored his first and only career victory when the Tour headed to South Boston Speedway in April. Ward earned the victory, too – wrestling the lead away from three-time series champion George Brunnhoelzl III with 19 laps remaining before driving away to safety at the front of the field. The former Late Model touring series champion has made just 19 career Whelen Southern Modified Tour starts over the last six years, but he's proven a formidable foe for the series' regulars. Ward has 10 career Top-5 finishes and has only finished outside the Top-10 in four of his starts. Ward's previous best finish prior to his victory were three third-place efforts, including most recently at Caraway Speedway in 2008.
2012 Final Closeout: Four drivers took home important contingency awards. George Brunnhoelzl III won the Coors Light Pole Award with five poles in 2012, and Danny Bohn was named the Sunoco Rookie of the Year. Thomas Stinson earned Coca-Cola Move of the Race Award honors, and John Smith was given the Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award.