WINSTON-SALEM, NC – Justin Taylor grew up around racing and hoped to one day compete at Bowman Gray Stadium. On Saturday night, years of determination paid off as he became a champion at the historic quarter-mile bullring.
After winning races in 2018, Taylor came into 2019 with a mission – to take everyone’s respect. He did just that throughout the season, scoring three wins and 17 top-five finishes in 19 races. In Saturday night’s wild finale for the Sportsman division, Taylor finished fourth and clinched the division championship.
“Last year, we told them we were going to earn their respect and we did,” Taylor told Race22. “We won a couple races, we ran really good. This year, I told them I was going to take their respect. That’s exactly what we did.”
Bowman Gray Stadium is more than a racetrack to racers and fans in and around Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It is a culture and racing at Bowman Gray Stadium is something fans grow up dreaming about. Winning a championship was Taylor’s dream – a dream that came true on Saturday and meant everything to
“Everything we give all year long,” Taylor said. “We gave 115 percent for this. My old man and Randy Armstrong, you can’t put in words what they know about a racecar. They made my job really easy behind the wheel. They made me look really good all year long. Without them, this wouldn’t be possible.”
For Taylor, who had never won a Bowman Gray Stadium championship, the pressure began to mount throughout the race, especially in the closing stages.
“It was very nerve-wracking,” Taylor stated. “When they showed up at halfway, that’s when the butterflies started coming back. When they threw the green, I wasn’t really worried about it. I knew what kind of hot rod we had under us and I knew they weren’t going to let me go out there with a junk racecar. They gave me a really good racecar. We probably could have won the race but, at the same time, I was looking at the big picture and trying to win the championship.”
Taylor was able to celebrate his championship triumph in front of an audience of thousands on the track, and then later that evening, he celebrated with the fans in the pits. For Taylor, both moments were special – especially when he was able to sign autographs for youths who cheered him on and look up to him.
“The fans come down here and see us, that’s what it’s all about,” Taylor remarked. “Especially the kids. The kids come to see us. I love the adults, but the kids, that’s what it’s all about.”
While Taylor stole the spotlight with his championship, “Tiger” Tommy Neal went on to win the thrilling Sportsman feature race over Dylan Ward and Zack Ore.