The rains came early but left just in time for the Bowman Gray track crew to get the track in shape for racing. Although all practices and the autograph session were canceled, it was all in hopes to get last night's event in. Luckily it worked in their favor.
The first race of the evening was the "A Race" for Mini Stocks. Shane Southard held off some of the strongest competitors in the division as he won his second race of the year over Chris Allison and Chase Hunt.
Second up, Street Stocks. Led to the green by Jeremy Warren and Brian Wall. After an early lap two pile up points leader Amber Lynn, Jac Creed, Blake Shupe and others received severe damage. Creed and Lynn went on to finish the race. Brian Wall finally got around Warren after a couple restarts and set sail. Brian went on to win his first race of the year holding off Donnie Martin, Jeremy Warren, Jac Creed and Amber Lynn.
The first Modified race was fifty laps. Brandon Ward and Burt Myers heading the field. After a few "failed" attempts at a restart they finally received the start they wanted as Brandon led Burt into one. Ward would make contact with Myers in turn one and two and receive fatal right front suspension damage, ending his night. An early spin by Darin Redmon in front of the leaders ended in Tim Brown's night being over due to damage received checking up for the spin. Civali and Burt exchanged the lead a few times but Myers would prevail to win yet another race before our halfway July break.
The night's main event, a sixty-lap Sportsman race was next. Michael Adams and Zack Ore would be your front row. Early issues for Zack Ore led to a broken axle ending his night early. Adams eventually led flag-to-flag holding off a hard charging Derek Stoltz at the end.
The second Modified event this time only twenty-five laps had an interesting set of names on the front row. Darin Redmon and William E. Smith. Darin pulled out to an early lead as he and Brody Jones would clear Smith quickly. Restart after restart Bobby Measmer Jr, Jones and Redmon all exchanged bumpers. Brody finally got the best of Redmon sending him through the infield on a restart. Jones held off a few healthy taps from Measmer to win his first career Bowman Gray Stadium race.
The last event of the night was the Mini Stock "B Race." Led mostly by Andy Spears only to receive a late race black flag for restart issues. Zack Staley would wind up winning, this was his first win since 2012.
Most modified fans are fairly familiar with the name Brandon Ward. But there's much more than just modifieds to Brandon's story. Luckily I had the chance to catch up with him and ask him about his racing background.
Ward would attend local drag races with his father and family friends regularly. When he turned eight, Brandon began racing kart's, like most drivers I have covered so far. Once he hopped behind the wheel hasn't looked in the rear-view since. Through his adolescence, he traveled up and down the East Coast running numerous World Karting Assoc. (WKA) events winning all sorts of races and titles. Around the day Ward turned sixteen they moved him up to the Goody's Dash Series which is now referred to as the ISCARS Dash Touring Series. Most older fans know that this series was packed with talent from Hut Stricklin to Robert Huffman. Brandon has raced in many top named series from UARA to Hooters Pro Cup and has had nothing but success along the way. He won the UARA Championship in 2006 and won National Rookie of the Year in the 2007 Hooters Pro Cup season.
Brandon first got his chance in a modified in 2006 driving a handful of races for David Pinnix. Fast forward a couple years and he was given the opportunity to race the infamous #44 Fishel Racing machine owned by Bryan Fishel. Brandon actually won in an upset in South Boston beating Andy Seuss and Danny Bohn to claim his first career modified victory in 2012. Brandon raced off and on in the Whelen Southern Modified Tour while also racing PASS Super Late Models up until the last couple years.
Last year he and his team made some changes and decided to go full-time modified racing. With the help of Will Spaugh, Jeff Day and Kevin Powell this team was set up for success. Will had been working on building his own LFR tour modified and was also Brandon's crew chief on his super late model. Once Spaugh had finished building his car they officially made the switch. Brandon now drives for Spaugh on the SMRS Tour and Kevin Powell at Bowman Gray full-time, which Will also crew chiefs on. Brandon stated " I do miss racing the supers but I really enjoy the mods. As a driver, I like them both and hope to be able to race in both again in the future."
Ward clearly stated that he has never "bought" a ride and has worked his way through the ranks strictly on driving ability, which as most of you know in today's times is a rarity. Brandon started off this year on a roll winning three races and claiming four poles on the SMRS Tour and actually holds the point lead in this series as well. His goals moving forward are obviously to win races and championships but also to keep finding more speed and getting their Bowman Gray program back on track after losing a motor on opening night.
Brandon made sure to tell me that he owes the success his team has had to Kevin Powell, Will Spaugh, Jeff Day, the remainder of his crew and the following sponsors he carries on his machines: Kevin Powell Motorsports, kpmoto.com, Foothill Ford, Spaugh Racing Technologies (SRT), Q104, Precision Built Spindle, Miller Welders, Gold's Gym, Robbins Sandblasting, Amsoil, Broken Buggy Print Co, David E Day Inc. and Progressive Racing Engines.
Make sure to follow along Brandon as he will start on the pole and will try to seal his first Bowman Gray win of the season in Saturday night's fifty lap event in his Q104 car!
Amber Lynn has always been a name synonymous with winning. Amber has always had a racing background ever since birth. Before she was born her father Ron competed in the ARCA Racing Series and the short-lived NASCAR Sportsman Series. Once Amber came along her father decided to move down to a local level and run Late Models at Caraway Speedway. Lynn recalls playing under the old wooden bleachers at Caraway while waiting for her dad to race each weekend. The first time she set foot at a go-kart track with her father she automatically knew she wanted to race so her father bought her a kart shortly after that.
Amber had huge success in go-karts winning over one-hundred races and countless championships. She raced go-karts until her early adolescent years when her dad finally decided to put her in a stock car. After practicing it for a while she ran her rookie year at Motor Mile Speedway in Fairlawn, Virginia. Once she had some experience under her belt she moved to her home track of Caraway Speedway in Sophia, North Carolina. She won Rookie of the Year in 2014 and finished 2nd in points in 2015, which was also the year she won her first asphalt stock car race beating Ross Dalton and Mack Little IV.
In 2016 Lynn and team took a different approach to racing and ran at multiple different tracks from Anderson Speedway in South Carolina all the way to Franklin County in Virginia. Amber recorded top five finishes seven of the eight race tracks that she raced at in 2016 with a best finish of second (Caraway, Franklin County, and Greenville-Pickens). But at the end of the 2016 season, her dad took a step back and realized that running and touring the South-East wasn't feasible without sponsorship money. So, he turned to Bowman Gray Stadium.
Amber and crew worked fiercely on putting together a car for Bowman Gray to compete in their Street Stock division. Luckily for her, she was fast right out of the box and hasn't slowed down since. Amber has recorded seven top-five finishes in her first seven races, along with three wins. She 's also only led three laps all season long, each of those was on the last lap. Her father's plan has worked to perfection as they have picked up tons of sponsors they've never had before. She is also the Street Stock, Rookie of the Year, Top Gun, and Most Popular Driver Award points leader. Aside from racing Amber enjoys her full-time job as being a waitress. She also just graduated from the Early College of Forsyth with her Diploma and Associates Degree.
So be sure to cheer on the #02 Street Stock car on Saturday nights as she attempts to continue her hot streak at Bowman Gray Stadium!
On tap for week eight of racing was one of the more anticipated races each year, the Stadium Stock fifty lapper. Obviously, this is their only opportunity all year to qualify so it is a very big deal to these competitors. Chris Allison held on to the pole for the majority of the session until Wesley Thompson laid down his lap, stealing the pole award away from Allison. Along with this qualifying session the Modifieds qualified as usual. Jason Myers and Brandon Ward would qualify one-two, which is refreshing to have some new faces up front for a twenty-five lapper.
Robbie Brewer and Derek Stoltz were your front row for the first twenty lap Sportsman event. Brewer got into one a little hot taking Stoltz up the hill with him, Dylan Ward would slip by both of them and take the lead, Adams would follow. A mid-race caution bunched the field back together and Michael Adams eventually got around Ward to win his second race of the year.
Jason Myers led the field to the green in the first twenty-five lapper. He led flag to flag to win his first race since around this time last year.
The main event a fifty lap Stadium Stock race was to follow. Led to the green by Grayson Keaton. Grayson led a good portion of this race but contact with Wesley Thompson going into turn one would put him back a few positions. Wesley may have had this race in the bag if he didn't face mechanical problems midway through the race that caused him to play defense the rest of the evening. Unfortunatley for second place qualifier Chris Allison his night went up in flames on a restart, luckily he was able to get out unharmed. Chase Hunt eventually inherited the lead and held off Chuck Wall and many others on multiple attempts of green white checkered finishes. This was his second fifty lap title.
The front row for the second Sportsman race was interesting, long time competitor Mitch Gales and Wayne Hill. Mitch was moved fairly quickly and once again Dylan Ward grabbed the lead as he passed Hill going into turn one a lap later. Though John Holleman would breathe down his neck all race long until the white flag as Holleman used a lap car as a pick going into turn one eventually leading to Ward being put into the fence. Holleman would make it through to win this event.
Our second Modified race had a couple Bowman Gray legends on the front row, Ronnie Clifton and the King, Junior Miller. Junior would snooker Clifton on a couple starts and set sail. Junior held off multiple bump and run attempts from Civali during a small green flag run. But the inevitable finally happened, Civali caught Junior on a late race caution and proceeded to give the final, successful bump and run to him, executed perfectly. Civali went on to win his first career Bowman Gray stadium feature. This was the first time a Hill Enterprises car has won since Roger Hill many, many years ago.
The last event and possibly the most controversial was our Street Stock division. Taylor Robbins and Jac Creed led everyone to the green flag. Taylor held off Jac until a flat left rear tire ended her night. Creed inherited the lead as competitors played bumper cars behind him. Restart after restart Creed held off Amber Lynn until she finally caught him on a short six lap run. Getting under him off turn two Creed took her to the grass and both drivers collided going into turn three, ending his night. A green-white checkered finish would ensue. Blake Shupe would get under Amber off turn two and going into three third place driver, Spencer Martin would put the bumper to both drivers only for Lynn to drive through it and win her third event of the year.
Taylor Branch is a long time competitor in the Bowman Gray Stadium Sportsman division. But before he made The Madhouse his stomping grounds he raced karts. He had always had a racing background, his father being a crew chief on a Busch Grand National car. So Taylor’s father decided to buy a go-kart when Taylor was ten years old. Taylor and his father were a very small operation most race days, but that didn’t stop them from finding success. They came up with their own tire soak and set ups and won many races and a few championships.
When Taylor turned sixteen his father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and wasn’t given very long to live. He promised his dad the very next race they raced he would win it, no doubt in his mind. Sadly Taylor’s father, his very best friend didn’t make it to the next race as cancer had overcome him. Though Taylor did keep his word, and went out that next race and won it for his father. This race was also Taylor’s last behind the wheel of a go-kart.
It was around this time Taylor had focused on his life as a teenager and married his high school sweetheart Melissa, right out of high school. Together they have three wonderful children two boys and a girl. But this wouldn’t slow down the inevitable fact that Taylor wanted to continue racing. His first season was 2004-2005, they bought their first car from Mike Robertson. As always, this continued to be a family operation with he, his brother and his mom all doing what they could to get Taylor to the track.
Taylor would continue racing and having success at Bowman Gray winning a 100-lap Sportsman event, collecting a couple pole awards and also winning the 2014 Championship over the course of a decade. Taylor faced some personal issues in 2015 that really made him step back and lose the fire to step behind the wheel and actually sold out. The only thing left was the tool box at one point, he decided to buy a boat and enjoy life. At the beginning of the 2016 season, he texted fellow competitor, who was also sitting out, Derek Stoltz and expressed to him how much it ate at him not being at the track. With this being said he realized he had once again caught the racing bug.
Shortly after Taylor talked to his mother who pulled some strings and made it happen, they had bought another car and friend Keithe Whisenhunt bought a trailer. With this sprang Branch-Whisenhunt Motorsports. He brought the car over to the Stadium late in the 2016 season and really struggled. But did end up winning the season finale with the help of his brother which he refers to as “a setup guru.” At the end of the season, Taylor decided to send the car off to Stacy Puryear so he could work his magic.
Taylor sank all of what he had into getting the setup and chassis right on this car and actually didn’t set aside any money to get the motor freshened for this 2017 season. But obviously this hasn't slowed him down one bit. A couple weeks into this season he found out his mother was diagnosed with cancer as well. This once again took away the fire to race for Taylor. He talked with his mother and she stated: “You better have your tail in that race car on Saturday nights so you can win a race for me.” And that is exactly what he did this weekend and called it his best win yet. This win brings his win total to nineteen for his Bowman Gray career. Taylor stated that he would “win at all costs this year, doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from” just for his mother.
Be on the lookout for the black and gold #86 Sportsman car to win a few more races by season's end. He sits second in points behind leader Derek Stoltz.
Week 6 is in the books at Bowman Gray as of last night. Points battles are starting to shape up, and contenders are rising to the top each race, no matter the draw. Tempers are flaring, fingers are pointed and most everyone has made their bed for the rest of the season, whether they like it or not. With that being said, the track was about as greasy as it has been in recent memory last night, but with that came a lot of speed. Danny Bohn snagged the pole for the one hundred lap draw race. He would also elect to take the Color's Edge Fan Challenge and start in the rear.
The first race, as usual, is your Q104.1 Street Stock series. Amber Lynn sat on the pole, Jake Creed alongside her. Creed got a good jump and cleared Amber going into turn one and never looked back. Contact between Brian Wall, Taylor Robbins, and Kevin Gilbert would bring out an early caution and an early exit for Robbins on the hook. The green flag flew once more as Jake pulled out to a straightaway lead over the field and second place finisher Donnie Martin. Jeremy Warren would finish third, Amber would fight back after getting freight trained to finish fourth, and Blake Shupe fifth. With this race in the books, Amber extends her point lead to thirty-four points over Jeremy Warren and Brian Wall who should be tied for second.
The first Sportsman race was led mostly by Taylor Branch. Late race bumper cars between Zack Clifton and Taylor would end up leaving Branch with a last place finish, and Clifton taking home the hardware. Zack would redraw 14 during the Madhouse Scramble. This would put Bobo Brown on the pole, and Shane Tuttle alongside him.
The One Hundred lap main event was led to the green by none other than Randy Butner. Randy held off Chris Fleming and Zach Brewer for quite a while, but Chris would take the cone and get around Butner on a mid-race restart. Now the switch had flipped and Fleming held off Butner for a number of laps until a phantom caution was thrown to bunch the field back together. Burt Myers would pull along side Chris and clear him, holding him off the remainder of the race to win his third event of this 2017 season. Tim Brown finished third, Randy Butner fourth and 'The Mayberry Bullet' John Smith finishes fifth. Burt Myers will extend his point lead to twelve points over Tim Brown with this win.
The second Sportsman race is where tempers would flare, extremely early on. Contact out of turn two between Holleman and Justin Taylor would send Taylor into a rage. Taylor rammed Holleman under caution, followed him to the front stretch, parked in front of him and proceeded to exit his machine and walk towards John. Taylor was apprehended by Winston Salem's finest on his way to John. During all this mess Taylor Branch had found his way around Bobo Brown and went on to lead the rest of the race and secure his first win of the season. Doing some quick math I believe Stoltz will extend his points lead with a third and eighth place finish.
The first Mini Stock race was led to the green by Justin Owens. Wesley Thompson made quick work of his competitor in the #54 and went on to win yet another race this season.
The second Mini Stock race was a bit of a demolition derby. Scarlett Dahmer was dumped going into turn one, lap one and chaos ensued. Somehow weaving his way through Chase Hunt would park his #13 machine in Victory Lane once again, retaining his points lead. Join us next weekend for the Stadium Stock 50. The longest and richest race of the year for this class.
Q 104.1 New Country Street Stock Series Results
1. 08 Jake Creed
2. 00 Donnie Martin
3. 97 Jeremy Warren
4. 02 Amber Lynn
5. 30 Blake Shupe
6. 22 Brian Wall
7. 69 Gerald Robinson Jr
8. 99 Bryan Sykes
9. 88 Nick Brill
10. 2 Willie Wall
11. 1 Jasper Sumner
12. 13 Kevin Gilbert
13. 40 Taylor Robbins
Texas Steak & Tap House Sportsman Series Race 1
1. 81 Zack Clifton
2. 70 Noah Triplett
3. 02 Derek Stoltz
4. 21 Tommy Neal
5. 7 Dylan Ward
6. 19 Michael Adams
7. 98 Billy Gregg
8. 4 John Holleman
9. 55 Zack Ore
10. 18 Justin Taylor
11. 68 Robbie Brewer
12. 86 Taylor Branch
13. 6 Shane Tuttle
14. 2 Joseph Brown
15. 14 Terry Thompson
Brad’s Golf Cars Modified Series Results
1. 1 Burt Myers
2. 16 Chris Fleming
3. 83 Tim Brown
4. 5 Randy Butner
5. 53 John Smith
6. 65 Danny Bohn
7. 79 James Civali
8. 18 Daniel Yates
9. 75 Lee Jeffreys
10. 14 Bobby Measmer Jr.
11. 50 Michael Clifton
12. 66 Ronnie Clifton
13. 8 Darin Redmon
14. 92 Brody Jones
15. 4 Jason Myers
16. 26 Daniel Beeson
17. 04 Brandon Ward
18. 31 Zach Brewer
19. 7 Al Hill
Texas Steak & Tap House Sportsman Series Race 2
1. 86 Taylor Branch
2. 19 Michael Adams
3. 2 Joseph Brown
4. 55 Zack Ore
5. 21 Tommy Neal
6. 7 Dylan Ward
7. 4 John Holleman
8. 02 Derek Stoltz
9. 81 Zack Clifton
10. 98 Billy Gregg
11. 6 Shane Tuttle
12. 70 Noah Triplett
13. 14 Terry Thompson
14. 18 Justin Taylor
Law Offices of John Barrow Stadium Stock Series A
1. 02 Wesley Thompson
2. 24 A.J. Sanders
3. 1 Grayson Keaton
4. 39 Michael Tucker
5. 27 Austin Cates
6. 71 Auston McElveen
7. 44 Doug Rembold
8. 54 Justin Owens
9. 9 Richard Brannock
10. 45 Chris Heath
11. 56 Tyler Burke
12. 06 Derek Sheets
13. 00 Daryl Bryant
14. 01 Chris Allison
Law Offices of John Barrow Stadium Stock Series B
1. 13 Chase Hunt
2. 81 Chuck Wall
3. 35 Johnny Baker
4. 68 Tyler Bush
5. 23 Andy Spears
6. 3 Kyler Staley
7. 11 David Hopkins
8. 22 Adam Thomas
9. 0 Carlos Clifton
10. 09 Tim Evans
11. 14 Ken Bridges
12. 31 Zack Staley
13. 76 Billy Cameron Jr
14. 77 Randy McElveen
15. 20 Scarlett Dahmer
Many spectators and crew members know Chris Allison simply as, Pintang. Well, he hasn’t always been Pintang, but he has always been a racer. Chris began racing at the tender age of four, racing yard karts. He raced karts until his early adolescent years until he moved on to running bigger cars on dirt. His first asphalt race was at Friendship Speedway, which as most of you know is now a dirt surface. Once he and his father decided to pursue running on asphalt he ran the full 2007 season at Hickory Motor Speedway in Pro-4 cars where he won Rookie of the Year. From this point on the Pintang would come alive.
Chris’ father James ran one year at the Stadium, which is where Chris decided he wanted to try his hand at the Madhouse. His father had an old Pinto in the backyard that had a roll cage, the only problem was it had no body panels excluding the quarter panels. They decided to use Mustang panels to fill the gaps. Hence, the Pintang name was born. James and Chris both ran Pintangs for a period of time at the Stadium. Chris stated “I think it was my second season I got my first win. It was crazy the stands were packed and everyone cheered. I could hear them screaming over the car on my victory lap it was something I’ll never forget.” He also said the car's popularity grew once he began allowing fans to sign the car anywhere they wanted after the races.
Since his success in the Pintang, he has moved on to bigger and better things. He now races in David Sell’s 602 Tour. He has run very well so far in the handful of races he has been a part of. Chris stated that “My dad and I decided the past few years to slow down on the racing. So the 602 Tour was perfect since they don’t run every weekend.”
As most of you all know Chris races a Jason Keaton Racing car this year at the Stadium where he has found huge success and sits second in the points. Chris had always been close to Jason, ever since his go-karting days. He had joked around with him asking if he’d ever put him in a fast car since JKR cars have always been top notch equipment. Well Chris finally received that call last year. “Jason called me the Sunday of the Caraway Turkey Day Race. I had no service so I thought he pocket dialed me, but he called again 30 minutes later asking if I could be at Caraway by 12 pm to run his car since he would be helping his son learn the ropes in his other Mini Stock.” Grayson Keaton, Jason’s son wanted to start racing at the Stadium so Jason would have a vacant car while he was helping his son. Jason knew he couldn’t attend all of Grayson’s races if he were to run at the Stadium, so Chris was the perfect mentor candidate. Even when Jason is in attendance Chris allows Grayson to feed off of his prior knowledge, which has obviously worked since they both already have wins this season.
Chris has acknowledged that he is riding a bit of a hot streak the last year or so. But with this also comes the drive for more, “The team has supplied the car but the driver, on the other hand, has made some mistakes that I believe have cost us some wins. I've had the chance to win every race we have ran but, I've missed opportunities to seal the deal.” I asked him what his goals were and his answer didn’t disappoint. He said he’s just happy to race, it doesn’t matter what it is or how far up he moves the ladder he just wants to race. Whether it’s someone else’s equipment or what he and his dad can put together. He made sure to tell me, “I want to thank Jason, Grayson, David, Braxton, Chip, Bryan, my wife and kids, all my sponsors and fans for all the support this year. It has been a blast and I hope it stays that way.” So keep your eye out for the #01 Stadium Stock machine, and the white #7 602 Limited car this year.