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SMART Modified Tour

Brian Loftin Outduels Tom Buzze in SMART SoBo 99

Brian Loftin sped past defending series champion Caleb Heady with 31 laps to go and held off Tom Buzze by 1.3 seconds to win Saturday night’s Flying VA Classic 99-lap race for the SMART Modified Tour powered by Pace-O-Matic at South Boston Speedway.

“Every win at my age is a big win,” said Loftin, 50, a two-time winner last season. “Every year you start out on zero, and you have to start getting some wins. To get a win this early in the season, especially with the way we struggled the first two races of the season is big. We had a good car both races, but it just didn’t pan out.”

On this night, it did.

Track position proved to be key in Loftin’s win.

“I knew we had a really good racecar,” the Lexington, North Carolina resident pointed out. “We just didn’t qualify very well. I knew my car was really good if I could get out front. I knew it was going to be tough to pass, and we had a car that could win the race.”

Loftin started 16th in the 27-car field, pitted for a fresh right rear tire on lap 30 during the event’s stage break, and began his climb to the front. It took only four laps after the pit stop for Loftin to work his way into the top five. By lap 54, he was up to third place, and at lap 65 he was up to second place.

He surged in front of Heady on lap 69 right after a restart following a caution period and never relinquished the lead. Buzze, from Statesville, North Carolina, worked his way up to second place with nine laps to go, but was unable to run down Loftin at the end.

“I had a great car,” Buzze remarked. “I messed up in the race and got into the fence and had to pit early. My guys got the car fixed and we came back. To run second is almost like a win. It’s pretty special.”

Burt Myers of Walnut Cove, North Carolina finished third, about a tenth of a second behind Buzze, with Jonathan Cash of Oxford, North Carolina finishing fourth and Joey Coulter of Mooresville, North Carolina rounding out the top five finishers.

Brandon Ward of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Michael Ritch of High Point, North Carolina, Jeremy Gerstner of Wesley Chapel, Florida, Tim Brown of King, North Carolina and Jason Myers of Walnut Cove, North Carolina rounded out the top 10 finishers.

There were five lead changes among six drivers with Loftin leading the final 31 circuits. Gerstner led 29 laps. Heady led 24 laps, Ward led the first eight laps of the race, Cash led four laps, and Myers led three laps. The race was slowed by six caution periods.

Saturday night’s Flying VA Classic was a tribute to the late Ray Hendrick who is recognized a s legend in Modified racing. Hendrick won hundreds of Modified races during his illustrious career that included five South Boston Speedway NASCAR track championships.

His son, Roy Hendrick, South Boston Speedway’s first NASCAR Late Model Stock car Division track champion, drove his late father’s racecar during pre-race parade laps and joined with Loftin in victory lap after the race. He also presented Loftin a small-scale replica of his late father’s racecar in Victory Lane.

SMART Tour Flying VA Classic 99
South Boston Speedway
April 1 2023

  1. Brian Loftin
  2. Tom Buzze
  3. Burt Myers
  4. Jonathan Cash
  5. Joey Coulter
  6. Brandon Ward
  7. Michael Ritch
  8. Jeremy Gerstner
  9. Tim Brown
  10. Jason Myers
  11. Bobby Measmer Jr.
  12. Caleb Heady
  13. Daniel Yates
  14. Carson Loftin
  15. Matt Hirschman
  16. Dennis Holdren
  17. Brian Weber
  18. Wes Gilbert
  19. Chris Finocchario
  20. Jimmy Wallace
  21. Bobby Labonte
  22. Jonny Kay
  23. Gary Young Jr.
  24. Jonathan Brown
  25. Riley Neal
  26. Jason Tutterow
  27. Zach Brewer

Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He also has extensive experience covering NASCAR, IndyCar and Dirt Sprint Cars.

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