Burt Myers was more relieved Saturday night than anything else. Bringing his Modified home in 12th place in the season finale at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., was his worst finish of the season but it was enough.
With the finish, the Walnut Cove, Va., driver claimed his fifth Modified Division championship at NASCAR’s longest running short track. Tim Flock won the first NASCAR title at Bowman Gray in 1949.
“We didn’t really celebrate but that’s the happiest I’ve been with a 12th-place finish,” Myers said. “We gave up the little trophy to get the big trophy.”
Myers is ninth in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship standings, which saw a shakeup at the top.
Three-time national champion Philip Morris completed his second straight sweep of twin Late Model features at South Boston (Va.) Speedway to take over the top spot from defending national champion Keith Rocco.
Morris leads 755-752.
Morris, of Ruckersville, Va., has 18 wins, 21 top fives and 23 top 10s in 26 starts at South Boston, Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., and Langley Speeday in Hampton, Va. He has already clinched his second South Boston track title – the other came in 2003 – to go with the seven titles he’s won at Motor Mile.
Rocco, from Wethersfield, Conn., earned the win of the season Friday night in the SK Modified Division at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway. He was also ninth at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway Thursday and fourth at Waterford (Conn.) Speedway.
He has 23 wins, 35 top fives and 41 top 10s in 44 starts at the three asphalt Connecticut ovals and Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H.
Under the points structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the race winner receives two points for every car in the event up to 20 cars. Second place receives two fewer points, and so on through the field.
Race winners receive an additional five bonus points. For example, if 20 cars are in the field, the winner receives 45 points, second place 38 and third, 36. If there are 15 cars, the winner receives 35 points, second 28 and third, 26.
A driver’s best 18 results through Sept. 18 are counted toward their state and national points totals, and the champions are decided on overall points total. Once a driver reaches 18 starts, their total increases incrementally as they replace some poorer runs with better results.
Twelve of Morris’ wins have provided him the maximum 45 race-points. Rocco has 10 wins that were worth 45 points.
Lee Pulliam kept pace in third overall as he picked up his 17th win of the season Saturday at Motor Mile. Pulliam, with eight 45-point wins, has 753 points overall.
CE Falk III swept the Late Model features at Langley to give him 11 wins and is fourth with 713.
Brad Leighton is fifth at 672 with eight wins dirt Late Model divisions at Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa, I-80 Speedway in Omaha, Neb., and Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb.
Ryan Preece (Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, Stafford and Thompson) is sixth, followed by Frank Deiny Jr. (Caraway, Motor Mile and South Boston), Myers, Nate Monteith (Motor Mile and New Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway), and Brandon Davis (Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, Calif.).
Myers, the defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series North Carolina champion, also leads the state standings over Bowman Gray rival Tim Brown and Jesse Lefevres of Hickory Motor Speedway in Newton, N.C.
Myers previous Bowman Gray championships came in 1999, 2001, 2007 and 2010.
“You go through a whole grueling summer at Bowman Gray and the fact that it’s finally over and we came out on top, that feels really good,” Myers said.
Myers needed to finish 19th or better in the 150-lap finale on the quarter-mile. Faced with wet conditions that washed out practice and qualifying, Myers planned to be conservative until enough cars had dropped out and then take on new tires for the final dash to the finish. However, with 25 laps remaining, there were still 20 cars and Myers, who started on the pole, was mired outside the top 10.
“At that point, it turned into survival,” Myers said. “I’ve said all along, you can’t make a plan at Bowman Gray because it can change in a minute.”
Track, state and provincial champions and the top-three finishers in the national standings earn invitations to the 2011 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet at the Charlotte Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday, Dec. 9.
National Top 500 NASCAR Points Leaders