WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Brandon Ward left with the trophy on Saturday at Bowman Gray Stadium, but Jonathan Brown was smiling just as big.
Ward qualified seventh – and when the entire modified field randomly drew for starting position, he was set to start fourth. Frank Fleming drew the pole for his start and shot out into the lead, with Ward quickly moving up to second.
Jonathan Brown and John Smith elected to take on the Fans’ Challenge after qualifying in the top four: they would start in the rear and win $3,000 if either of them were to make it back up to top-four finish.
A few double-file restarts allowed Ward to challenge Fleming for the lead, completing the pass on lap 17. The double-file restarts also allowed defending champ Burt Myers of Walnut Cove to make his way forward up to second – where he began pressuring Ward.
Ward defended his territory until lap 74 when Myers completed a smooth pass for the lead on the outside row. It seemed like the race was over for Ward, but he battled back to reclaim the lead on lap 90. Myers delivered some stiff shots to Ward’s bumper, but Ward held strong and grabbed the checkered.
“We had a really good car early, and it just went away on me. It got way too free getting in, but these guys don’t give up on me – I can’t give up on them,” said Ward. “I just felt like if I could get a good start and get back to the front, get some laps under us, get some bite back in getting into the corner, we’d be okay.”
Jonathan Brown flew from 22nd up to 4th to win the $3,000 in Fans’ Challenge bonus money. But just as exciting as the prize money for Brown was the performance of his car – and what that means for the future.
“The $3,000 is a nice bonus, but the main thing I’m happy about is building the car and making it better. I came last week after only having the car for two days, and we qualified seventh and got two top-fives,” said Brown. “We took it to the shop and completely rebuilt it – we finished up about one o’clock this morning. We came over all day long and busted our butts to make it better.
“Tonight we qualified fourth, so we’ve gained on it,” said Brown. “I know we were as fast as or faster than the leaders. We had something to win with, for sure.”
Burt Myers finished on Ward’s bumper in second, with brother Jason Myers finishing third.
In the McDowell Heating & Air Sportsman Series, Justin Taylor slipped past Kyle Southern to win in the first 20-lapper. In the second 20-lap race, Dylan Ward claimed victory.
Billy Gregg won for the Law Offices of John Barrow Street Stock Series after spending all day struggling to fix his car. He got it race-ready just minutes before the green flag and held on to take the win.
In the Q104.1 Stadium Stock Series, Chuck Wall and Chris Allison each brought home a victory.