Burt Myers celebrates his record-breaking ninth win of the season opener at Bowman Gray Stadium on April 21, 2018. Corey Latham Photo

The Madhouse lived up to its name last night as the whole night of racing was chalk of full fierce competition and hard battling with a side order of oozing drama.

The night kicked off with the Texas Steak & Tap House Sportsman Division running a 40-lap extra distance “cone race” that provided so much excitement that some call it the best race of the night. Derek Stoltz qualified on the pole Friday Night and after the full field redraw it put Stoltz in fourth behind front starters John Holleman IV, Andrew Durham, and Kevin Neal.

Holleman held off hard charges from Durham, Stoltz and Michael Adams for the first 20 laps of the event. After Adams moved into second thanks to the Midway Mobile Storage Cone Restart on lap 24, he and the reigning top gun winner had a spirited battle for three different times with three different pairs of perfectly executed bump and run performances.

On a lap 34 restart, Stoltz didn’t fire off quick enough and it allowed Adams to get up into second and Stoltz was quick to the draw and nabbed third over Dylan Ward. Holleman and Adams showed great respect, but it ran out as Stoltz got around Adams after the third battle with Holleman. Stoltz appeared to have got around Holleman in turn 1 on lap 38, but down in turn 3 Holleman got a push from behind from eventual winner Dylan Ward who skated past Adams and it caused Holleman to get into Stoltz and sent both men spinning with Ward getting the lead.

Ward inherited the lead and held off Zack Ore on the green & white and then checkered finish. Ore held off a hard-charging Michael Adams for second as Andrew Durham and John Holleman IV who fought his way back up after the spin.

The Hayes Jewelers 200 for the Brad’s Golf Cars Modifieds showcased rivals Burt Myers and Tim Brown on the front row. 18 mighty Modifieds started the prestigious event and it didn’t disappoint. Brown fell back to fifth early on due to being in the wrong lane. The race grew 10 laps old and the field decided to go single file and ride around to conserve their tires, the only meaningful battle was in the middle half of the top 10 with Jason Myers and Randy Butner fighting for sixth place. The first quarter of the event was caution free and times slowed down over half a second.

The first caution flew on lap 53 for debris along the backstretch. The green flag restart shows Myers, Ward, Bobby Measmer Jr and Tim Brown in the first two rows. As the green flew, the yellow came back out as 2016 Hayes Jewelers 200 winner John Smith came to a stop in turns 1 & 2 and ended his night.

The restart was the same as the last with Burt Myers, Brandon Ward, Bobby Measmer Jr and Tim Brown. Myers got away quickly and left the trio to settle for second, then the big one happened, Brown and Measmer appeared to bang wheels and it sent Brown into the outside of turn 4 wall and the accordion effect caused Jason Myers and others to pile in, all cars but Myers drove away on their own power. Myers was towed off, but he returned to the track much later laps down.

On the ensuing restart, Four-Time Whelen Southern Modified Tour Champion George Brunnhoelzl III got into Measmer and he got into the back of Tim Brown who slammed the outside wall but kept it going and the caution flew anyways. Brown, Frank Fleming, and Lee Jeffreys all had visible body damage, but they all pitted and continued to race.
The lap 75 restart saw a new contender in Chris Fleming as he moved into the outside land to challenge Myers, but Myers got away and Ward back into second. Measmer had a bad restart and slid back a couple spots, but he used the outside line to move from fifth to third, but as he was trying to complete the pass of Fleming for third, Fleming sent him for a spin.

Myers showed the way with Ward and Fleming in tow, Jonathan Brown moved into fourth after starting eleventh. On the lap 98 restart Brown and Fleming collided on the backstretch and sent both careening toward the turn 3 pit entrance. Both men were ok, but the cars are torn up, but they’ll be back. With that crash occurring, it caused a red flag for the extensive cleanup.

The race progressed and after a couple of quick yellows during the middle part of the track, the caution came out on lap 171 as Lee Jeffreys spins in the infield off of turn 4. As the clean up commenced, teams reported a driver was leaking possible rear end grease, the culprit was George Brunnhoelzl III as he was black flagged and he lost his third place position.

After a couple of quick yellows for single car spins in the final laps of the scheduled 200 lap distance, the race went into overtime. Defending SMRS Champion Jeremy Gerstner and Daniel Yates got together on midway down the backstretch and caused a caution on lap 200. Brunnhoelzl was the final caution as he spun out and kept going and it sat up a Green-White-Checkered finish. Myers held off Ward for the 10th time and claimed record-breaking 9th Hayes Jewelers 200 win. Brandon Ward kept pace the entire race and finished second, Tim Brown rebounded from his problems to finish a strong third. Frank Fleming in his return to the track finished fourth, Randy Butner rounds out the top 5.

“This car was phenomenal all weekend,” said the Walnut Cove native Myers. “I had a good car, but Brandon [Ward] seemed to be better than us. He had a better drive off the corners, but I pulled him on the straightaways and it really helped. The track was really slick and greasy, especially during the latter stages, I’m glad I held off Brandon and won this race.”

The Law Offices of John Barrow Stadium Stocks kicked their season off with a strong 40 cars for a pair of 15 lap features. The first race was won by Chase Hunt as Shane Southard and A.J. Sanders rounded out the podium. Pole sitter D.J. Dean held on to finish fourth and rookie Tyler McDonald finished fifth.

The second race also featured great racing, but after a spin by Chris Allison it came down to two men, defending champion Wesley Thompson and three-time champion Chuck Wall. Thompson held off Wall and started his season off the best possible way. Outside front row starter Tyler Bush led the opening three laps and held on for a third-place finish. Austin Cates stayed up front and finished where he started in fourth. Chris Allison rebounded from the spin early on and finished fifth.

Last race of the 70th season-opening event was the 104.1 Q New Country Street Stocks. A record 32 cars showed up, but due to some mechanical problems in morning practice, only 29 made it to the evening show. 28 cars took the green flag for the 20 lap affair, 2016 Top Gun Award Winner Taylor Robbins and the defending champion Jac Creed led the massive field to the green.

It was a hectic race, the leaders took the green and the back of the field was still coming out of turn one, including Brian Wall whose a leading candidate for the championship. The race went past the 11:30 curfew because the track gave them a couple of opportunities to finish all 20 laps, but they couldn’t get it done. The checkered flag flew over Billy Gregg, who was making his start in the division after more than 5 years removed from the division after David Creed pounded the outside of turn one wall and couldn’t get going again. Rookie contender Christian Joyce finished second, Bryant Robertson who also was making his debut after a long time away from the division moved from 11th to 3rd. Spencer Martin started dead last [28th] and overcame a lap three spin to finish fourth. Blake Shupe also came from the back, 25th respectively, to escape the crashes and finish fifth.

Next week is a regular weekly show of twin 25 lap modified races, a pair of 20 lap features for the sportsman division, the street stock will have a 20 lap race and the stadium stock will have a twin bill of 15 lappers. The first of three $2 ladies night will be next weekend along with the first of four 109 U-Pull It chain races.