Burt Myers all smiles in victory lane for the first time in 2019 at Bowman Gray Stadium during the June 1, 2019 event. (Corey Latham photo)

Burt Myers has been accustom to winning at Bowman Gray, especially since his first win way back in May 1998. This year Myers had yet to reach victory lane, until last Saturday, he had been having one of his worse seasons ever since he started racing the modifieds in the mid-’90s. 

“Man this win feels like the first win,” said the nine-time and defending champion Myers. “I don’t recall having this bad of a season ever. The luck we’ve had since the season opener is just horrible. After having a junk car this morning I didn’t know what to do with the car. We came back this afternoon and we threw the kitchen sink and the kitchen at it and it seemed to come around and I was shocked when I got the pole.” 

Myers qualifies on the pole but then had a decision to make. According to him, it wasn’t his decision. “I left it up to Kim (Burt’s wife) to decide to start in the back or not. She chose yes so we went with it. I wasn’t worried about getting to the front. I was just worried with the amount of cars started tonight that I could’ve crashed out a couple of times. This Fury chassis is brand new and with any new car you’re gonna have bugs to work out and I’m glad we got them worked out now and not later”. 

“This year is completely different, it’s the first time in a few years that I’m not in the top 3 in points, so I wasn’t considering running for points, I just want to win races. I think when you’re points racing your mind is focused on just finishing good and being content to riding around in 4th or 5th, but when you’re running for wins, your mind is open to do more things like run the top more often and take more chances to finish up front.” 

With Myers 79th career modified win, it gives him 80 career wins overall and into third place all-time behind six-time Limited Sportsman champion Jimmy Johnson and ten-time Modified division champion Tim Brown. When asked what does win number 79 mean to him Burt didn’t shy away from telling how appreciative he is to win that many races. 

“Man I never thought I would win a race over here when I started racing dad’s backup modified back in 1996.” Myers went onto explain what it means to win that many races and what his future looks like to catch Tim and Jimmy. “To win this many races is amazing and it wouldn’t be without the help from Dad (Gary Myers), my mom, my great sponsors like Cirtusafe, Fanatics, and Fury. One at a time, that’s all I’m thinking about, I’m not thinking ahead to winning five or six more races this year, I’m just thinking one at a time.”

Tommy Neal was elated to pick up a win after destroying his car on the final lap of the previous race at Bowman Gray Stadium. (Corey Latham photo)

Tommy Neal held off his good friend Derek Stoltz and points leader Justin Taylor to take his first win of the season last Saturday night. Neal was happy to get back in victory lane after the rain shattered his hopes the week before. “Man it feels good to win again, especially this one after last week’s win was taken away, it just goes to show how much fight and no quit we have in us as a team.” 

With Neal braving the hard challenges of fellow Walkertown native Derek Stoltz to win the first race of the night, Neal tied his great friend Gene Pack for third on the division’s wins list. Pack, a two-time sportsman champion, raced in the division for years and captured 43 wins to his credit. Neal explains how meaningful the win was. 

“To tie Gene, well it feels great to me,” said the 2016 champion. “It shows that this team I have here is pretty good and never quits cause quitters never win! Gene is a great friend of mine, when I first started over here he showed me the ropes, we could crash on Saturday night and on Monday we could go and eat wings and have a beer. Gene was an aggressive racer, but he knew how to get the job done without wrecking you, he forced you to make the mistakes.” 

When talking about Pack, Neal is very vocal about his dear friend who moved to North Myrtle Beach a few years ago.

“I miss him every day, especially at the track, we had so many good times together. One of my favorite memories with the old man is us racing the 100-lapper back then and playing golf. We were the only two there at the end of the long race, I miss racing him for the lead in that race, in order to win that race you have to be there at the end. Gene nowadays has become a beach bum, but I still love to go down there and play golf with him, I go down there when I can and play golf with him.”

Kyle Southern celebrates his victory in the second Sportsman race on June 1, 2019 at Bowman Gray Stadium. (Corey Latham photo)

Kyle Southern has been racing the Sportsman division for a long time, over 100 races and he’s always run pretty good no matter what car he’s in. This year the car he’s running is pretty good, in six starts, he’s finished in the top 5 five times and has finished in the top 10 all six races, but his best finish was this past weekend. Drivers had been wondering when the racer was finally gonna breakthrough and get his first win, well that question was finally answered last weekend. Southern fought to get the lead from Michael Adams. After rivals Derek Stoltz and John Holleman IV were battling late in the race, it allowed Southern to put a comfortable distance between himself and Stoltz and he finally got the monkey off his back. 

Southern joins a rapidly growing list of winners in the ultra-competitive sportsman division. He becomes only the 112th driver to win a race in the division, that may not sound like much, but it’s a pretty big deal because there have been 401 drivers to start a race in the division, that means only 28% of the drivers whose started a race has won! Not only does Southern join that list, but he also joins a very elite list of drivers to win a race in two or more divisions. Throughout the history of track’s 71-year history, only 96 drivers have accomplished the feat out of nearly 500 winners, that’s a staggering 19% of drivers that have pulled off the rare achievement. 

The second stadium stock race from last weekend was a pretty interesting race during the first 14 laps. A late race caution came out when Junior Snow’s car spun out in turn 4. What happened next you couldn’t predict, race leader, points leader and two consecutive race winner Grayson Keaton was leading with Brandon Brendle behind him, Stephen Sanders whose a points contender at Bowman Gray and Carteret County was in third. Those three are regarded as probably a few of the best drivers in division. 

Keaton got a good restart, but Brendle got a better restart, they bumped and banged around the track, Brendle moved Keaton up and had the preferred line inside of Keaton, the two made slight contact in three and that helped Sanders bumped into Brendle and it sent all three cars careening towards the infield grass. Newcomer Tyler McDonald was riding fourth when the craziness started after the top three was getting loose, McDonald saw a hole open up at the bottom of the track and took it. With the top three cars spinning and coming towards McDonald, he held it straight until Brendle’s car touched him and sent him in the grass, but he held it as straight as he could. It was a photo finish! McDonald barely pulled it off in what seemed to be a five-car photo finish!

Stadium Stocks get waded up coming off the final corner on the final lap of the race at Bowman Gray Stadium on June 1, 2019. This set up an unreal four wide finish. (Corey Latham photo)

McDonald is no stranger to racing, his dad Joe ran at Caraway and other tracks, but primarily Caraway. His dad was pretty successful in his racing career, so when Tyler was old enough he wanted to race too. He got his feet wet in the same class his dad dominated years before the Super Mini Trucks. Tyler and his younger brother Chris raced the division for a few years. Tyler finished top 5 in his debut season with a couple wins to his credit. He followed that up with 5 wins in 6 races and the championship the following season. 

So after the division disbanded the following year, Tyler stepped up to the Mini Stock division. After running a part-time schedule for a few years he didn’t decide to give Bowman Gray a shot last year. It proved to be pretty good for the Thomasville native. He made 11 starts, the lowest amount of starts in the top 15 in points, the win eluded him quite a few time, but had 7 top 5 finishes and 10 top 10 results. He ended up finishing ninth in points with five fewer starts than everyone else, also he was the highest finishing rookie in the division which means he won the rookie of the year for the division and only second behind overall rookie of the year winner Nick Wall in the Street Stock who finished eighth in the season-long standings.

After Tyler’s big crazy win last weekend, Race22 was right there to ask him about his first win and how it happened.

“It feels great man to win a race over here, especially after starting in the back,” McDonald said.

McDonald was scheduled to start sixth but opted to start in the rear after the car was horrible during morning practice, they took the car back to the shop and changed it back to what it was the last race and got it back in time.

“To win a race over here is pretty cool, I hate that I won like that because I didn’t have the speed like the top three cars, but I’ll take it. We’ll try to work on the car to find that little bit more speed so we can be right there with the top guys.”