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After a long time out of the racing game, Howard Harvey has come back in style.
Encouraged by his son, Eddie Harvey, to return to the ranks of Modified racing, Harvey has now won back-to-back NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championships with driver George Brunnhoelzl III. Along with Ideal Racing teammate Andy Seuss, Harvey's cars combined to win seven of 11 Tour races this season.
It's a track record that most team owners can only dream of.
“If it wasn't for Howard Harvey, right now, this would not be possible at all” said George Brunnhoelzl Jr., who serves as crew chief for his son's No. 09 Phoenix Pre-Owned Chevrolet. “As everybody knows, racing's very expensive. He's a great car owner. We've never lacked for anything. If we need it, he says, 'Get it.' He's been fabulous.”
Howard is a native of the northeast, where he cut his racing teeth in the Modified ranks at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track, and the now-defunct Islip Speedway. With John Blewett Jr. driving, Howard was a championship-winning car owner at both tracks in the 1980s.
Last season, Brunnhoelzl and teammate Andy Seuss won eight Tour races for Harvey, giving them a total of 15 wins in 25 races over the last two seasons.
“(Brunnhoelzl) is one of best race car drivers I've ever seen,” Harvey said. “I was involved in racing up north, and I've never seen more experience or talent than George has in a Modified.”
Considering that Harvey stepped away from Modified racing in 1986 to focus on other interests, his run to the top has been nothing short of impressive. He returned to the Whelen Southern Modified Tour garage three years ago and has wreaked havoc on the competition since.
If there's a way to get better, Harvey's team finds it.
“We have a really great team and a great car owner, obviously,” Brunnhoelzl III said. “Everybody works on their stuff and gets it a little bit better every year, so you've got to keep up with everybody else to make changes to get better.”