EWS & NOTES: NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler 200 at Stafford
Eddie Harvey is no stranger to success in racing.
But, the last two years have seen a bit of a transformation for his team, and he’s along for the ride.
A ride that he has enjoyed since day one, and a ride that he hopes will point him back to NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Victory Lane before long.
Four years ago, the ride was already well underway, while Harvey was celebrating a second straight championship as a car owner on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour with Andy Seuss.
It wasn’t anything new for Harvey, who had also been part of championships down south with George Brunnhoelzl III, and has deep racing roots in his family, with his father as a car owner for veteran Jamie Tomaino up north for many years.
“We had one phenomenal year where Andy and George were teammates and we won 11 of the 13 races and won almost all of the poles,” Harvey said. “It was a great relationship. Andy and I were together seven and a half years, and Andy had the opportunity to do some ARCA stuff, and he was able to pursue his dream. My specific vision is the Modifieds, and that’s what I wanted to do going forward, so we mutually agreed to move on but that door is still open even for the future. He stops by every once in a while. I think we won about 17 races together. It was definitely fun.”
After the two parted ways, Harvey tabbed Chase Dowling to drive at Bristol Motor Speedway, finishing fourth in their first effort together. After that, it was current Monster Energy Cup Series driver Corey LaJoie who drove the car at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and it was then that Harvey found the relationship that would set him up for the future.
“It’s a funny story, that’s how Burt Myers and I ended up together. Corey was at a Cup Series race in Dover and said he’d be at the shop on Monday and I told him I needed a seat. He couldn’t quite get one, and he asked me how well I knew Burt Myers, and I called Burt and after Burt had unfortunately destroyed his car at Bristol, he said he had his seat, and he told me to come by and grab it,” Harvey said. “I got it, used the seat for Corey, and then Burt asked me what he needed to do to keep the seat in the car for the World Series at Thompson. Once we left there, we were talking about keeping the seat in there permanently.”
That relationship sparked success towards the end of last year, and the team has rolled it right over to this year, coming just a few short laps away from victory at South Boston Speedway on March 30, and running solidly inside the top five for much of the Icebreaker 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Even though Myers finished sixth at Thompson, the combination left there pleased. Myers has finished seventh or better in the first three races of a new year.
“This past race at Thompson was our 13th race together, and since Bristol last year, we’ve pulled off top 10s and top fives with chances to win. Burt hadn’t seen a lot of the tracks, like Stafford and Riverhead. He had never really seen them before we went there. We also had to get used to working together,” Harvey said.
“It took us about five races together and we just had to build a little bit of a notebook. We had to use about five races to pretty much throw away it felt like just learning, but it worked out. The strategy and the tires were much different for us. Down south, we only got one change tire. Up north, you can get some more changes. Down south, you do a lot of riding and you don’t race until the end, but at these tracks up north, you race hard right from the start. Once we got a handful of races together, it started becoming fun.”
And even though that relationship is steered in the right direction with the combination hoping to continue that success for days to come, it’s on hold for now. Myers will begin his quest for a 10th track championship at Bowman Gray Stadium this weekend in their Modified division, meaning he won’t be making the trip to Stafford Motor Speedway for the annual NAPA Spring Sizzler 200.
Instead, Harvey will have Jeff Rocco sit behind the wheel, another driver who has joined the stable, run some previous races and is enjoying the ride.
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“I get it, but it sucks that we have to stop that momentum,” Harvey joked of Myers heading to Bowman Gray. “Jeff wasn’t doing anything at Stafford for the Fall Final last year and he just jumped on board as a crew member. All of a sudden, he became a full EHR guy, coming to the tracks and doing whatever we needed him to do. With Doug Dunleavy in the mix, we put a deal together last year and put him in the car at Seekonk; then at Langley, Brian Loftin couldn’t show up there for me to drive the car and Jeff drove through the night and got in it there and ran inside the top 12.”
“He offered over the winter to put the new car together for me and help take some of it off my plate. He really has jumped right into this deal 1000 percent, he gets along great with all of us.”
arvey says Rocco will drive at Stafford, followed by Danny Bohn returning to action at Wall Stadium Speedway on May 18. From there, Harvey will take a look at the situation and figure out the immediate future.
Eddie Harvey (left) and Burt Myers (right) enjoy a New England Patriots game last year. (Eddie Harvey Facebook)
“It isn’t just a driver and owner relationship, we have become great friends. We text every single day and it’s important to have that relationship outside of racing as well. If we can’t go at this and have fun doing it, I don’t really want to do it,” Harvey said of his drivers. “We win and lose together as a team. We just try to put our minds together to figure out how to get faster.”
Outside of racing, Harvey is also back on track after some health issues forced him to make a pit stop late last year.
His motor is fired back up, screaming like never before.
“I dealt with some cancer a few years ago, got through that, then all of a sudden about eight months ago I started having some heart issues and I had a few stents put in, and then I had a blood clot and they had to get rid of it. But everything is really good now,” Harvey said.
“I’m fully working out again, back to pushing as hard as I can with this whole racing deal looking to move forward. It’s allowing me to go after this full-time if all of the stars align for us.”
Whelen Modified Tour NAPA Spring Sizzler News & Notes
- Stafford Motor Speedway regulars Joey Cipriano (SK Modified) and Mark Bakaj (SK Light Modified) will both make their Whelen Modified Tour debuts Sunday. Cirpriano will drive for Steve Greer, a car owner he ran some tour-type Modified races with at Stafford last year. Bakaj will wheel a car for Jason Nogiec driving with his family company as the sponsor.
- Doug Coby, who leads all active drivers with 11 career Stafford wins, leads the series standings entering the half-mile. Coby has one win already this season, and led the most laps in the Icebreaker at Thompson before a pit road penalty ended his chances of returning to Victory Lane.
- Sam Rameau, who will make his first start at Stafford this weekend, leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings at the end of the first three races. Timmy Catalano, the brother of defending Sunoco Rookie of the Year Tommy Catalano, trails by 16 points.