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Caraway Speedway

Caraway Speedway News
North South Shootout 11/4
Nov 4, 2011 - updated Nov 4th, 2011 11:27am
Web posted by Renee Hackett

Asheboro, N.C. --

A packed infield led to a full day of track activity Thursday at the Caraway Speedway as shakedowns and preparations for the ninth annual Jimmy Blewett III North/South Shootout got underway.
The tour modifieds took to the .455-mile layout, along with the other divisions competing in this weekend's action, for their first laps in an open practice session. The 125-lap North/South Shootout features a strong field of drivers from both the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (WMT) and the Whelen Southern Modified Tour (SMT) on the SMT's home track.
Practice resumes Friday at 11 a.m., for all series competing - tour modifieds, SK modifieds, late models, USA modifieds, sportsman and legends. Qualifying will begin at 5 p.m. On Saturday, practice will continue through the morning with an hour-long autograph session starting at 12:30 p.m. Racing starts at 2 p.m. The grandstand will open at 4 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. on Saturday.
While the Southern drivers will be a lot more familiar with the track, they all are going to be aiming to unseat one driver - Matt Hirschman. Hirschman has been a mainstay in the Shootout, becoming the first three-time winner in 2010 with a resounding run from repeated setbacks to a checkered flag at the Concord Speedway. It's the kind of race Hirschman says puts them on a stage to display their talents at the end of the season.
"I think it comes at the right time of the year, all the points racing is done," Hirschman said. "What I thought was pretty neat about the race is you combine the drivers from the series. It's the only time of year you put this kind of group, as diverse as it is, together."
Hirschman and fellow Shootout competitor and Caraway Speedway and Southern Tour driver Burt Myers have had a stranglehold on the event, capturing the last five. But as Myers has said, the event features a who's-who of modified talent, champions and winners across the board. The field, expected to be in the neighborhood of 25 cars, will feature strong WMT drivers as well as the cream of the SMT crop, including past Caraway winners Andy Seuss, George Brunnhoelzl, along with both tour rookie champions Austin Pack from the South and the North's Patrick Emerling. Myers will be hoping to unseat Hirschman, return to victory lane for the first time this season and become the second three-time winner.
As the name implies, it is a race of bragging rights as the best of the North and the South wage war in the open-wheel chariots, but it also holds high prestige for a driver who can etch his name atop the list, besting the field to take the checkered flag. Hirschman credits the Shootout with putting his name out in racing circles.
"From the first year I won this race, I feel that got me more recognition than any other race of the year could have gotten me," he said. "That was my first real big win, on that kind of stage. It's kind of really launched my career to a lot more wins after that, but that was the first real big one for me."
Hirschman, who also won in 2006 and 2007, had a certain comfort level with Concord, adding the Shootout was usually a one-off event in which most drivers were on the same plane with the others in regards to track time. This year's venue presents a new test for several of the drivers.
"(Concord) was a tough track, but once you figured it out, it was a lot of fun. It was kind of tradition going back there every year," the Northampton, PA native said. "This year, it's really quite a challenge. There are some guys who race (Caraway) quite frequently and have a lot of experience there.
"I have been there before so I'm not going into it blind. I don't think it'll take me long to get into the groove, though it's been a few years and very limited (track time). Just work hard, hopefully we find the match that we had at Concord."
In addition to the tour modifieds, the Champion Racing Association (CRA) will crown its inaugural National Champion along with its Super Series Southern Tour Champion for their Late Model divisions in the North/South Shootout 100.
The CRA Super Series national standings is led by Chase Elliott, son of former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Bill Elliott, and Hendrick Motorsports developmental driver. Elliott currently holds a 61-point advantage over another Cup champion's son, Ross Kenseth, whose father Matt is currently in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup battle. Kenseth is the closest driver to Elliott entered in the 100-lap Shootout. The series determines its champion by the top four finishes in the 2011 Northern and Southern tour schedules.
In addition, Elliott trails one of the nation's hottest late model drivers this season, Bubba Pollard, by 15 points for the Southern Tour title. Pollard already has 18 victories to his credit this season. Also Cup driver Dave Blaney's son, Ryan, is expected to compete, trailing Pollard by 19. Local product Grant Davidson of Asheboro is also among the entries in the race.
Tickets are available at northsouthshootout.com, carawayspeedway.com or by calling the speedway ticket office at (336) 629-5803. Weekend VIP (top row) seating is $50, turn 1 reserved seating is $40, general admission is $35 with children admitted for $25.


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