Justin Taylor at speed during practice at Bowman Gray Stadium. (Corey Latham photo)

“It’s good to be back.”

That’s what Brandon Ward of Winston-Salem said after taking the checkered in Saturday’s first scheduled 25-lapper for the Brad’s Golf Cars Modified Series.

“We didn’t get to race over here a lot last year. We ran into some problems, but we’re glad to be back full time this year,” said Ward.

Jason Myers of Walnut Cove was the fastest qualifier and started on the pole, with Ward starting outside of him in second. When the green flag fell, Ward leaped out into the lead and never looked back.

“It’s all about the initial start with these twin 25s,” said Ward. “It’s kinda a game. You’re trying to go as soon as you can and not jump the start. It was pretty even between me and Jason. The outside was good. I was able to get a good launch off of four and just barely get him cleared.”

Brandon Ward celebrates in victory lane after winning at Bowman Gray Stadium on May 25, 2019. (Eric Hylton photo)

Ward was particularly pleased to take his first win in a 25-lap race.

“The other wins we’ve had over here have been these long distance races. So if we’ve struggled anywhere, I feel that it’s been in the twin 25s,” said Ward. “So to come over here and finally get one of these races so early in the season – it shows we’re headed in the right direction.”

Jason Myers finished on his bumper in second. Danny Bohn of Huntersville took third.

Saturday was the Midway Mobile Storage Sportsman 100 for the McDowell Heating & Air Sportsman Series – one of their long-distance races and always a showcase of racing action. Dylan Ward of Winston-Salem started on the pole after being the fastest qualifier. Second-place started Derek Stoltz of Walkertown was soon knocking on his door, taking the lead away on lap 7.

Stoltz then immediately had to contend with veteran Tommy Neal of Walkertown. Neal moved out into the top spot on lap 14 and then fended off challenge after challenge for the next 70 laps. John Holleman of Winston-Salem gave Neal a run for his money but the caution flag came out on lap 93 while Neal was still ahead.

That caution flag would be the last where Neal would lead. Dylan Ward chose the outside during the double-file restart to challenge Neal for the top spot. As Ward and Neal headed into turn one as the green flag was waving, a massive crash ensued. Much of the field was collected in the wreckage – but Justin Taylor of King was able to make it out to take over the head position.

An abrupt storm began to pelt the cars with rain, leading to the event being shortened due to weather. On lap 96, Taylor was declared the unofficial winner of the race. The results are pending review by NASCAR Officials.

“I really don’t have a clue what happened – I saw them all pile-up and I hammered down,” said Taylor about the massive wreck where he claimed the lead. “That’s why I went in the corner sideways – I didn’t really care what the outcome was as long as I was the first one out the other corner.”

Justin Taylor (12) and John Holleman (4) battle for position during the Sportsman 100 at Bowman Gray Stadium. (Eric Hylton photo)

“That’s the biggest race of the year and to come over here and win it – we’re the smallest budget team. We have worked on this car every single week – week-in and week out,” said Taylor.

The victory, if declared official, would give him a strong lead in the points standings – but Taylor doesn’t pay attention. “Everybody keeps messaging me about a championship, championship, championship,” said Taylor. “That’s the last thing on my mind. This year I’m winning the Top Gun Award [for most wins] and that’s a fact. You can take it to the bank.”

In the Law Offices of John Barrow Street Stock Series, Jeremy Warren of Winston-Salem powered by Fletcher Whaley of Advance to take the win.

Randy Butner of Pfafftown was slated to start on the pole for the start of the second race, but the rain led to an early end to the night. The Q104.1 Stadium Stock Series was also unable to race – but they will return next week with double points at stake.

Cover photo by Corey Latham.