Gary Putnum Dominates S.M.A.R.T. Modified Tour Race at Caraway Speedway
“RUSTY HARPE MEMORIAL” presented by DAGGETT SHULER ATTORNEYS
7/3/2021 - Gary Putnam has been a regular competitor in Southern Modified racing for more than a decade. However, he had gone winless since 2015 with the KOMA Unwind Modified Madness Series at Orange County Speedway. That changed on Saturday night at Caraway Speedway, as Putnam scored the win in the fifth round of the SMART Modified Tour season as part of the Rusty Harpe Memorial.
A jubilant Putnam celebrated the big win in victory lane afterwards, excited to win at one of his favorite local tracks. Putnam was fast throughout the evening at the Sophia, North Carolina facility.
Putnam set fast time in qualifying, but started sixth due to a redraw. The Concord, NC native methodically worked his way through the field, taking the lead just before a caution on lap 72. Young gun Caleb Heady, who won the tour's second race of the season at Florence Motor Speedway, left the pit road first under that caution thanks to his Tommy Baldwin Racing pit crew, while Putnam restarted fourth. Again, Putnam worked his way back to the front, taking the lead from Heady on lap 88 and pulling away for the win.
Any time you're behind cars, you never know what everybody's going to do, what they have, what they're saving. After the pit stop, I knew Burt and the 7 [of Caleb Heady] just had right-rears. They had swapped lefts earlier. I felt like if we had a long enough green-flag run, we'd have a chance to get them. I was fortunate enough, we went caution-free to the end.” Heady entered the race determined to prove his win at Florence was not a fluke.
While he finished second, he still left stoked with another strong run. It was crazy. I can't thank these guys enough, with Tommy Baldwin Racing and my grandpa, he's the one who funds all this. First is nice, but this one's pretty nice, too. – Caleb Heady
Last November, Putnam's No. 77 went to victory lane in the North-South Shootout with Max McLaughlin behind the wheel. Saturday's win continued the strong showing for the machine at Caraway. “The race before Max drove it at the North-South Shootout, I finished second to John Smith. I'm like, man, this is a really good car.
I think we could win with it if we put a real kid in it, a real good race car driver in it. Max backed it up and won his first time out in the car. That was awesome. To do it myself, it's even more special.”
“It's huge. I was fortunate enough five years ago to win at Rougemont for my first career win. This is where I started was right here. This is pretty special. I really enjoy the place. It fits my driving style. I'm just thankful for all the help and support my friends give me and my family. It's awesome. – Gary Putnam Joey Coulter completed the podium, while Brian Loftin and Jimmy Wallace completed the top five.
The SMART Modified Tour returns to action August 28 at Dillon Motor Speedway. After Putnam's win, five different drivers have won the first five races of the SMART Modified season.
S.M.A.R.T. Tour 99 Race Results From Caraway Speedway