WINSTON-SALEM — Racing action at Bowman Gray Stadium is heating up along with the weather this summer.
This Saturday night is the night fans have been waiting for – it’s the annual Great Clips Night of Destruction. The adrenaline will be pumping during the Monster Truck Car Crushing Exhibition, and the night ends with the crashing thrills of the 109 U-Pull-It Demolition Derby. Plus there will be racing as always for the Modifieds, Sportsman, Street Stock, and Stadium Stock Divisions.
Gates open at 6 p.m. for practice, and the first race begins at 8.
Last week’s Modified race was a tense nail-biter…and there were 9,000 reasons why this was the case.
With the Fans’ Challenge award going unclaimed in the first two 100-lappers this season, the prize pool entering last event had built up to a massive $9,000.
“It’s major. That’s more than 90% of the teams get for a sponsorship for the year,” said Burt Myers.
The top four qualifiers from each 100-lapper are given the choice of randomly drawing for starting position with the rest of the field or electing to take the challenge and start in the rear. If a competitor starts in the rear and then climbs to a top-four finish, the prize pool is theirs.
Tim Brown of Tobaccoville, John Smith of Mount Airy, Lee Jeffreys of Winston-Salem, and Burt Myers of Walnut Cove were the four fastest. Brown and Myers were tempted by the opportunity – but with the last event awarding double points, they opted to not head to the rear.
“My sponsor told me we’re never taking this challenge,” said Brown. “We come over here to win, and it’s a lot of money – so it’s hard not to.”
Myers was torn but went with his intuition. “It’s just a gut decision. Some of my guys are saying to go, some of them are saying not to. You just weigh the options,” said Myers. “My wife came down, we talked about it for a little bit, and she said you better ask God to give you an answer real quick.”
“You’re a hero or a zero. If you go for it and make it, they say that you’re the greatest thing walking,” said Myers. “If you go for it and don’t make it, they say, ‘Oh that was stupid – why’d you throw away the points?’ The bottom line is I value the opinion of my crew, I value the opinion of my sponsors, and I value the opinion of the fans – but ultimately at the end of the day, it’s mine and my wife’s decision and whatever God puts in my heart to give me that gut decision to make that final yes or no.”
“It doesn’t necessarily have to do with the money. It has to do with the fact that if I say no and then draw in the back and then make it to the top four, you feel like you gave the money away,” said Myers – who ended up having to deal with that regret.
“Hindsight’s 20/20. If I knew what I know now, I probably could have taken the challenge,” said Myers after the race, pointing out how he didn’t expect as many cautions and opportunities to pass. “I probably could have taken the challenge and been all right, but you never know. It depends on which lane you pick. I picked the wrong lane once, and it cost me two spots. And I ended up making them up on another one.”
John Smith and Lee Jeffreys elected to take the challenge and start in the rear. Both had a roller coaster ride of a race as they fought forward. Smith finished seventh, but the fans erupted in cheering as Jeffreys was able to pull off a fourth-place finish to grab the $9,000.
“We got a good start in the race, gained several positions and then we got in that wreck. So we lost back, and I thought right then that we were going to be doomed,” said Jeffreys. “But then we just kept chipping away and chipping away.”
“We’ve been struggling this year with a few things on the car. We lost a little side bite tonight,” said Jeffreys. “The money’s great, but we’d like to win. So we’re going to take that money and see if we can’t help win some now.”
The accomplishment was timely for Jeffreys as he and his family and crew have struggled with the declining health of his father, former Modified Champion Robert Jeffreys. “This is the best medicine of all for him. You can see his face light up when we start running well,” said Lee Jeffreys about his father. “We had a good car tonight – a good top-five car. We just ended up getting lucky into a fourth place finish. Any medicine like that is good for him. The man above is looking out for him and us on the race team, and that’s all you can ask for.”
Although he didn’t grab the $9,000, Burt Myers did grab another second place finish to maintain his points lead. Tim Brown stays in second, with Jason Myers of Walnut Cove dropping down to fourth. Smith stands in fifth place with 348 points overall, 22 behind Jason Myers and 77 out of the lead.
In the Yates Grading & Paving Sportsman Series, Zack Clifton of Walnut Cove grabbed more points than any other Sportsman competitor to pad his points lead. Derrick Rice still leads in the Q104.1 New Country Street Stock Series. A.J. Sanders flew through the field to now tie Billy Cameron, Jr. for the points lead in the McDowell Heating & Air Stadium Stock Series.
Ticket prices, directions, and more information can be found online at www.bowmangrayracing.com or by calling (336) 723-1819.