Bobby Measmer Jr's Modified sitting at the 2018 Bowman Gray Stadium Preview Show Justin Mincey Photo

With the 2018 season at Bowman Gray Stadium less than a week away, the defending Modified Rookie of the Year Bobby Measmer Jr. is looking forward to getting back behind the wheel. He’s more than confident to get back to the Madhouse and try his new combination out.

With his rookie season effort last year, the driver of the #14 Crispy’s Bar & Grill, might’ve had the most impressive feat of his racing career. Measmer Jr. captured the Rookie of the Year title with a strong sixth-place finish in the final standings (due to the strength of 16 top 10 finishes in 21 starts, including 7 top 5’s and three runner finishes.) He became the highest finishing modified rookie since the track started to keep up with the rookies back in the late 1980’s. He entered the final race of last season with no wins to his credit and he trailed eventual champion Burt Myers by well over the race paying 100 points, but that didn’t matter to him as he was just trying to finish the season off strong. He did just that and finished third, right behind Brandon Ward and Jonathan Brown, after riding in the top 10 for the first part of the race and was a mainstay in the top 5 for the last 50 laps.

“I want to focus on how we ended last year, we ended the season last year really well and over the winter we basically got a new car, I mean essentially it’s the same chassis we raced there last year, but we stripped the car all the way down and completely redone it. Everything we learned last season we applied to the car for this season. Based off of how Thursday night’s practice went, it was really good and a lot of our hard work is starting to pay off, but it won’t completely pay off until we get us a win. I think that’s something that could really happen this year. We had some mistakes last year as it was a learning year and I think we took all of those experiences and hopefully we learned from them and hopefully there will be write ups about me winning more races this year than more write ups about me breaking or the struggles.”

The Hughes Motorsports Facebook Page released a statement back in the winter that the Hughes team would be working alongside fellow modified owner Phil Stefanelli and his team at PSR Products as like a mutual partnership for this season and how does a alliance like that gets formed?

“Well, I had a bad night in the Teddy Christopher race (the Friday Night heat race at the North South Shootout) in the dash for cash race on the Friday night, when we had got our primary Hughes Motorsports car demolished. We had a pretty successful run when Phil asked me to drive his car and I started shotgun on the field the next night, due to the crash, we got up to the lead there and ran up front and had a chance to win, but came up short and Phil was excited about that. He already had a partnership with Danny Bohn and still does to run the tour events, so he was putting together a new car he wanted to run at Myrtle Beach at the end of the season. So we went on down there with the new car they had built in-house there and ended up having another good run down there. We had a pit problem at the end, but I still came back and started at the end of the field and 25 laps we got back through the field to third. It was a really good deal and I told Phil ‘Hopefully I can take my stadium car and get it built or get the things I needed underneath the car to be just like the car I drove at the beach for him, that was the best modified I had ever sat in.'” We never turned a bolt on that car the whole time and the car turned and responded well and it was just good right off the truck.”

After a successful start to what would become a full fledged deal in 2018, Bobby and Phil and the team’s worked to figure out how everything would work like a well oiled machine at Bowman Gray and for the tour car.

“I told Phil I wanted that at the stadium and me and him worked out a deal over the winter, as long as I went in there ( the PSR and done most of the work as far as cutting and grinding and whatever it took to help those guys out. They would help me in return and he’s got my motor I ran at the stadium last year, he was going to rebuild it, but then the way the deal got to working, it worked out pretty good that he wanted one of his motors in a car at the stadium, so it all worked out. He’s [Stefanelli] a jack of all trades, he builds motors, he’s got guys there that’ll do chassis work and basically my car was over there two to three months over the winter, it left there last week and shook it down at Concord’s quarter-mile and made sure nothing leaked or fell off and we turned around and went to the open house this past week, it was good there, so a few small adjustments this week and I think we’ll be right there in the hunt this weekend. Everything has went smooth and Kevin [Hughes] is still involved and Hughes Motorsports and with the backing of Phil Stefanelli and PSR Racing, we’ll just take it one week at a time.

Before you can race a car, you have to test it to see how it’ll handles and make sure everything is good on the car. Not attending the practice sessions would put you behind the eight ball heading into the season, especially if one of them practice sessions got canceled, but luckily the track scheduled one for last Thursday night and some of the top modified teams had shown up to test their equipment. Measmer was one of the many modified drivers to voice their opinion about how their car was during the evening test.

“We unloaded really well and we had old tires, I still haven’t put on a new set of tires on the car, I thought it had been only the second time cars had been on the track, that it would be kinda a waste to put any kind of new tires on until the track gets more rubber gets laid down. We unloaded really well and the car was really stable and fast for what tires we had on. We put better tires on as the runs went along and we put some better stuff on that we had leftover from last season and we worked on the car from there. Basically, with it being a new car, you don’t know what it’s going to do until you try certain things, we dialed ourselves out a little bit, but then went back to how we unloaded and made a few minor adjustments to that. I got to where I think only Burt and Jason were faster, because they put on sticker tires or at least I know Burt did and he ran a few 30’s and we were three tenths off of that with tires from last year. So I think we’ll be alright, we’ll still be learning this new car, a lot of things to learn and really how it’s going to run on the long runs until we actually run a race and get a race under our belt.”

“All in all I think we had some people looking or at least I think we did, which we’re taking a brand new car to the stadium, which isn’t smart, but that’s what it takes when you got cars like Tim Brown’s, Burt’s, Jason’s and the Hillbilly bunch. I know Jason walked over and was looking at my car, so that would say we did a good job at least opening eyes, he’s ready to put the first scratch on it. Those are really good cars and you can’t go over there and do things halfway you got to go all out the whole season and leave everything out there on the track and hopefully it’ll all play out some point throughout the year and ultimately at the end of the season, you know I think we can be a contender from finishing fifth or sixth last season in points, I think we could be contenders at the end of the season if everything goes our way and we just be smart about it.

With the defending rookie of the year anxious to get back in the track, he’s not one to overlook just because it’s only his second season at Bowman Gray and his fifth season total in a modified. Measmer Jr thinks the competitive nature in the modified division is really intense and he gives his thoughts on how to win the championship over there.

“You have to race the track and let the race track give you what it wants to give you and not try to over do it. If you’re bad week is a seventh or eighth place, it’s better than being on the hook and in the pits and not finishing. The caliber of cars and the caliber of teams they’re always going to be on top, but the thing I noticed with Burt last year is the exact statement I just said, he took what the race track or car gave him, he never pushed the car over it’s limits and never ended up wrecked or on the hook. A few times Tim got caught up in someone else’s wreck or whatever and that puts you behind, you can’t do that I mean myself in the first 100-lapper on the second week, heck I’m leading the 100 lapper and I know I led all the way up until lap 76 and had a rocker arm break, which is a parts failure or mechanical failure and those will also take you out, but it’s just the little things that’ll bite you, then you got everyone else right there, it’s not a easy track, so you got to minimize your own mistakes so if you do have a bad week that’s out of your control, it doesn’t hurt you too bad.”

In such a prestigious division that stretches back nearly 70 years, there’s always been some great competition and great points battles throughout the years. After the smooth and successful winter and good test last Thursday night, Measmer offered how he thinks he’ll fair this season against a stacked lineup.

“I mean I think we’re right there,” said a confident Measmer. “I want to say I like to fly under the radar, so I don’t want to be the one everyone expects to win, I want to be that surprise that everyone gets every week or every other week who doesn’t expect us to be out front every week, but that’s where we plan on being, based on Thursday’s test, how much better the car was from last year to this year and know how we ran last year, it’s going to be good, we have what they have last year and I’m just throwing my hat in to being one whose being looked at every week.

“I have to thank all of our partners who have helped us on this journey, starting with my wife and kids who support me and my crew and whose helped me throughout the winter and the sponsors we have in Racing Electronics, FanVision, Lead 2 Real Estate Group, Crispy’s Bar & Grill, Phil Stefanelli and PSR Products and all his guys helping me build a nice car. Shift Marketing & Design, Brown & Miller Racing Solutions LLC, Nelson Specialties, Thermal Control Products, Earnhardt Technologies Group, Gear Tech Inc., Bill McAnally Racing, Jenkins Graphics, Shepard Hunting Company, nline Apparel & Promotional Products,, Schoenfeld Headers, Chico’s Bail Bonds, Farmer Ted Racing, Red Eye Designs, FNO Racecars and Powdercoating. We’re obviously looking for more sponsors to help get us through the whole season, but we’re going to be there week in and week out to support Bowman Gray Stadium and look forward to 2018.