Call it a family reunion.
Four-time NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion George Brunnhoelzl III is returning to New England this week, as the veteran will compete in the Thompson 125 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
Brunnhoelzl will drive for Eddie Harvey in the No. 1 Dunleavy’s Chevrolet, and he is no stranger to success with the Harvey family. Brunnhozlel won two of his four titles down south with Harvey’s family as the car owners. The combination won 11 races together over the stretch. Brunnhhoelzl ran Bowman Gray Stadium last year, but didn’t really have much planned going into this year before he spoke with Harvey.
“Eddie and I have known each other a long time and things just kinda worked out perfectly,” Brunnhoelzl said. “We had talked about it numerous times, even going back to last year, trying to get something together.”
The last few years have been a difficult stretch for Brunnhoelzl and his family, off the track. His wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, which turned his attention away from the cockpit and towards the family.
“Over the offseason, after everything with Bowman Gray settled out, my wife was doing a lot better and we talked and she misses racing as much as I do,” Brunnhoelzl said. “And my daughter loves racing too. We made a family decision that everyone was doing good enough and we needed to get back to our normal selves. Racing has a been a major part of my life.”
For Brunnhoelzl, the opportunity to step back behind the wheel with Harvey is one he’s been waiting for. In the last six years, he has just three starts in Whelen Modified Tour competition.
“It really truly is a big reunion with my relationship with Eddie and all of his key guys on the team are the people I worked with years ago,” he said. “We all get along and gel really well together. We are going up there to have fun and race as hard as possible. If you’re having fun, the wins will come.”
Heading to a Connecticut oval that is one of the most difficult on the Whelen Modified Tour circuit, he knows the task isn’t going to be easy. That’s why he’s taken the necessary steps to get a ride in Thompson’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Sunoco Modified division.
“I’ve been there, and I haven’t raced there since 2010, but I do feel more comfortable going into this deal because I don’t have to be worrying about gelling or learning communication. I can just focus on getting back acclimated with Thompson,” Brunnhoelzl said. “Running the Sunoco Modified will help that with the extra seat time. It’s laps around the track, and it’s before tour practice, you can’t beat it.
“I expect to run competitively, I know the car and the team can do it and I know I’ve done it before, I’ve won at Thompson. The biggest thing is just keeping my nose clean, and I do honestly believe we can pick up where the No. 1 team has been running.”