by:Jason Mitchell NASCAR/PR

WINSTON-SALEM , N.C. – It was a night where dreams finally came true for 31 year-old driver Brian Loftin as the Lexington , N.C. native was honored as the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion.

Loftin, the driver of the No. 23 L&R Transmissions/QMF Solutions Chevrolet as well as his family-owned team was recognized on Friday night at Benton Convention Center in downtown Winston-Salem , N.C.

Loftin won this year's Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship by a mere 30 points over Tim Brown. In doing so he joins Junior Miller (2005-2006) and L.W. Miller (2007) as only the third driver to win a Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship in only the fourth year under the NASCAR banner.

“Every year all the teams get together like we are now to celebrate the end of the season,” Loftin said. “Some teams, just like mine, are celebrating a year of success while some teams are celebrating the fact that the year is over with. At the start of the season, my team and I sat down and decided we'd run for the Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship. I'm glad we made that decision and know we have the championship in our hands. There are not a lot of people that can say they won a NASCAR championship and that's something nobody can ever take away from me. I'm just looking forward to get next season underway and see if we can make it a repeat.”

Bobby Loftin, Brian's father, was on hand to receive the 2008 championship car owner award while Mike Adams earned the championship crew chief award.

The Top-20 drivers in the final point standings were called onto the stage on Friday night to be recognized for their efforts throughout the course of the 2008 season.

Several special NASCAR awards were handed out during the banquet. Veteran driver Bobby Hutchens received the 2008 Whelen Southern Modified Tour's Most Popular Driver award. Andy Seuss was awarded the season's Featherlite Most Improved Driver award as well as the Driver Achievement award. John Smith earned the POWERade Power Move of the Race.

Tim Brown won the season's Coors Light Pole Award while George Brunnhoelzl Jr. picked up top honors for the Sportsmanship award. The Hoosier Tire award was presented to Brian Loftin.

In one of the biggest NASCAR awards of the evening, 19 year-old Rich Kuiken Jr. was officially named as the 2008 Whelen Southern Modified Tour Rookie-of-the-Year.

There were also several special awards that were presented by the Southern Modified Ladies Racing Auxiliary. Two longtime Whelen Southern Modified Tour officials were recognized for their efforts as Lynn Miller received the Bud Hutchens Excellence in Motorsports Award while Boyce Lineberger was called to the stage to accept the Kenny Minter Memorial Determination award. Scott Rigney received the Bubba Beck Perserverance award while Jody Utt was named the Mechanic of the Year.

FOX Sports commentator and legendary journalist Dick Berggren was Friday night's Master of Ceremonies, bringing in a wealth of past racing experience dating back to his early days as a modified driver in the northeast.

Other special dignitaries on hand on Friday were Phil Kurze, the Vice-President of Motorsports for Whelen Engineering. Hank Thomas with Sunoco was in attendance to hand out the 2008 Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year award.

Special guests from NASCAR headquarters in Daytona Beach , Fla. included: George Silbermann, the Managing Director of Racing Operations; Ed Cox, the Whelen Southern Modified Tour Director; and Meghan Miley, Touring Series Marketing Manager.

Representing NASCAR from the Concord, N.C.-based Research and Development Center were: Richard Buck, Director of Touring Series; and Jerry Cook, Competition Administrator.

In one of the biggest announcements of the night, it was revealed that the Whelen Southern Modified Tour will make its inaugural visit to South Boston ( Va. ) Speedway in 2009.



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