WINSTON-SALEM — A grieving Chris Fleming of Mount Airy entered the Kevin Powell Motorsports 100 on Saturday, May 14 at Bowman Gray Stadium as a man on a mission.
“It was going to be hard to deny me, because I had one thing on my mind – and that was winning,” said Fleming.
The veteran Brad’s Golf Cars Modified Series driver was still reeling over the news that his pastor had suffered the loss of a child on the previous night. Fleming set out to take the win in his honor, and that’s just what he did.
After qualifying fifth fastest, Fleming plucked the pole as his start when the full field randomly drew for starting position. But he had his work cut out for him: Starting on the outside front row was fourth-fastest qualifier, Burt Myers of Walnut Cove.
On the initial start, Fleming surged forward to leap out to an early lead. In short order, Brandon Ward of Winston-Salem had moved up from fifth to knock on Fleming’s bumper. Ward tried the outside in two double-file restarts, pushing Fleming to the limit – but the #16 of Fleming held strong.
The second restart put Ward in a vulnerable outside-row position. Myers capitalized to take over second place around the halfway point of the race, but that was as close as Myers got. Fleming coasted ahead during a clean-and-green final 50 laps, leaving Myers trailing behind.
A combination of a brand new car and an unusually cool track handicapped Myers as he tried to challenge Fleming.
“We set it up just like we did last week, and the track was just different tonight. The car was way too free. The 16 [of Fleming] had a good car. He had a good race. We just came up a little short,” said Myers. “The track was way off. His car was tight, so that helped him at the end of the race, where my car was neutral early, so I got loose.”
Fleming, on the other hand, had his machine dialed in.
“I went with a new setup on my car this year, and I think I came up on something,” said Fleming. “The car just kept getting faster and faster and faster.”
“Everybody drove me clean tonight,” said Fleming. “We ran hard, we raced like men, and hopefully the crowd loved it.”
It was the first victory for Fleming since 2014.
“Everybody wants to win at Bowman Gray Stadium,” said Fleming. “This place has been mean to me, but when it’s sweet, it’s the sweetest place in the world.”
Myers finished in second, Brandon Ward took third, and Joseph “Bobo” Brown of Lewisville came in fourth.
Dean Ward of Winston-Salem was the only top four qualifier to accept the Fans’ Challenge. Unfortunately, he was forced to pit early in the race and missed out on winning the $3,000 prize pool. That amount will roll over to the next 100-lapper, leading to a Fans’ Challenge prize pool of $6,000.
In the Yates Grading & Paving Sportsman Series, Zack Clifton of Belews Creek took the checkered flag for the second week in a row. Zack Ore of Winston-Salem won the second Sportsman race.
The crowd was on their feet in the Q104.1 New Country Street Stock Series as Taylor Robbins of Winston-Salem claimed her first ever Stadium victory. The daughter of Modified driver Brad Robbins, Taylor is the first female winner at Bowman Gray Stadium in decades.
In the McDowell Heating & Air Stadium Stock Series, A.J. Sanders of Mocksville and Bryan Sykes of Lexington each won a 15-lap race.