LUCAMA, N.C. – A victory at Southern National Motorsports Park would be extra special for Southern Modified Racing Series points leader Brandon Ward.
Ward’s long-time friend and crew member Mike Sabiston died when the team was unloading a super late model prior to a PASS South race at Southern National Motorsports Park on Aug. 2, 2013. Today, many of those same crew members who worked with Ward at New Day Motorsports continue to work with Ward on his tour-type modified – and a victory at Southern National would be a special one.
“We miss Mike every day, every race,” Ward said. “This is the same race team, it’s the same group of guys that worked on that super late model with Mike. The majority of these guys were part of the same team that Mike was part of. You know, Mike was such a huge part of our racing family. Every time we go to the racetrack, every day of my life, I miss Mike tremendously. But, when I do come to Southern National, it’s definitely something, the thought of that day never goes away.
“It kind of sucks in some ways because Southern National is a great facility and a great track and I love racing there but every time I come there, the memory of that day is one of the first things that I think of.”
While the memories of Sabiston’s passing are still raw, Ward wants to add a good memory at Southern National Motorsports Park and honor Sabiston with a victory on Saturday night.
“You always want to win when you go to the racetrack, that’s the only reason we go. Every race, the next race you go to is the most important race but to come and get a win at SNMP would be huge for me and most of these guys on this team just because we feel like it would at least add a good memory to some of the other memories we have from there.”
Saturday night’s race at Southern National Motorsports Park is the fourth race of the season for the Southern Modified Racing Series and Ward enters the race with the points leader. The 36-year-old from Winston Salem, N.C., finished fourth in the tour’s season opening race at Caraway Speedway back in March and has since won races at Orange County Speedway and Concord Speedway. The two wins and three top-five finishes give Ward a 16 point lead over Bobby Measmer Jr.
“We’ve really had a good season. We’ve had two poles and two wins and qualified outside pole at Caraway and ended up fifth. Two wins and three top five finishes, it’s been a really good season for us,” Ward said. “These guys have worked hard. We’ve been really focused on this modified program for the past year now. Throughout all the hard work all these guys have put in, we feel like we have the race car where we need to have it.”
Ward got his start in racing when he began racing in go-karts at the age of eight and he has been racing ever since then.
“I got started in racing through my dad and grandfather,” Ward explained. “They got me started Go-Kart racing when I was eight years old. I raced Go-Karts from the time I was eight until I was 16. Then we moved into the Goody’s Dash Series. From that point, I’ve really had the opportunity to race in many other big divisions. I’ve ran Hooters Pro Cup, K&N Series, UARA and PASS South.”
Now, Ward races predominantly in modifieds after teaming up with Will Spaugh and Kevin Powell at Bowman Gray Stadium.
“The move to modifieds for us now really came through Will Spaugh,” Ward said. “I started driving Kevin Powell’s modified at Bowman Gray and Will Spa came on board to crew chief for me in that car and my Super Late Model. At that point, Will was in the process of building his own Tour Modified car and that’s when we put the whole program together and made the switch to Modifieds completely and basically tying Will’s tour mod with Kevin’s Bowman Gray car and using the same team and guys in one joint effort. It made the most sense for us to do that right now.”