Burt Myers Claims Checkered in Season Opener at Bowman Gray

Burt Myers was dominant Saturday night in the season-opening Hayes Jewelers 200 in the Brad’s Golf Cars Series at Bowman Gray Stadium.

Sitting on the pole after an impressive qualifying session this past Friday, Myers, the 10-time Modified champion, led wire-to-wire to win, defeating Tim Brown, the 12-time champion.

“When you get that first one under your belt it’s awesome, especially when it’s Hayes Jewelers 200 – and I think they said that’s my 11th one,” Myers said. “It’s my favorite race of the year. Starting straight up and it shows the quality of our team and our cars – our motor program, just everything.”

As for Brown, winning the season opener is always top on the list of accomplishments he’s aiming for. Although he didn’t take checkered, he was pleased with his performance – and what that means for the rest of the season.

“It’s a good race car. It’s a brand-new race car, the first race with it,” he said. “Really pleased with it. I’m definitely not happy – second’s not what we come to do, for sure. Good race team, great race. We’ll be better.”

It’s the second year in a row Myers won the season-opening 200-lap race. He also won the final last race of last year, which was 150 laps.

“Last year, we bookended. We did the first one and the last one,” Myers said. “It was great tonight. I’ve said over here before, you’re either hero or zero. Tonight, we’re heroes, so hopefully we can maintain that hero status for a little while.”

The time Myers had to sweat the most was on the restarts after the 13 cautions.

“It’s the setup, obviously,” Myers said. “It’s the hard work that we put into it, and we found something at the end of the year last year that we were able to relate over.

“I don’t think we ran but 15 or 20 laps of practice yesterday or today because we unloaded identical to the way we were in the 150 where we were so dominant. So, I hope we found something.”

Brown, who started fourth, moved his way to second with 20 laps remaining. With the double-file restart cone, Brown moved to the outside in hopes of slipping past Myers.

“We got shuffled back there with some of the restarts using their own line,” Brown said. “I think I cut down on Jason (Myers) there and ruined his night, got us further behind there. My spotter said ‘clear,’ and I eased down. Then I felt him, and I saw him sitting in the grass. I really hate that. I mean, I don’t like to race that way.”

The last thing Myers wanted to see was a caution after having a huge lead.

“You know it’s coming,” he said. “You know, when he’s telling me my gap and telling me how much distance I have, I just kept trying to back up and save it all I could because you never know if you’re going to get a restart. Over here, more than likely you are, so I was doing all I could to manage and save some tires.”

There was another caution on lap 186 and yet another one on lap 191. Each time, Brown took the outside in hopes of passing Myers.

“I’m always going to go to the outside,” Brown said. “I got a shot at winning, I’m going outside. I don’t care who’s leading. That’s the only shot at winning. You can’t ride behind him and win it. I gave it all I had. That’s all we had. That’s what God wanted tonight for us to run second, (Myers) to win.”

“Listen, it’s Bowman Gray. You knew it was coming,” Myers said. “(Brown) was crowding me pretty heavy on the restarts, trying to pin me down. But I tried to get through the corner enough before I fired, waiting for the box to get a straight enough run off the corner to where the contact on my right-front didn’t affect me, and it worked out.”

Chris Fleming was third, Fleming’s son Jordan was fourth, and Brandon Ward, last year’s points champion, was fifth.

“You don’t have but a handful of nights like we had tonight where you’re running 65-70% is all you’re running and the car is that good.,” Myers said. “So, when you get a night like tonight you enjoy it, you embrace it because there’s other nights where it’s not so good.”

Not to be outdone, the Law Offices of John Barrow Sportsman Series came down to a photo finish in the season-opening 40-lap race.

Chase Robertson, last year’s points champion, nudged leader Tommy Neal coming around turn 4 of the final lap and just edged Neal by a nose at the finish to win.

“On that last lap, I feel like he would’ve done the same thing to me,” Robertson said. “I just moved him. I didn’t wreck him or anything, so it’s just a pleasure to be in victory lane again.”

Much like last year, Robertson, who has graduated from high school, headed to his girlfriend’s prom after collecting the winner’s trophy.

“I need some water now, you know, 40 laps with these guys is no easy task,” Robertson said. “We drew unfortunate 14. We had to make our way up through the field, and me and dad were talking about what are we going to do on these restarts. And I feel like I had a really good car, so I went to the top each time and it worked.”

Kirk Sheets drew the pole, but Sterling Plemmons quickly took the lead. Zack Ore took the lead from Plemmons on lap 18 until a caution on lap 25. On the double-file restart, Neal came along the outside to go against Ore on the front row.

Neal took the lead on lap 29 and led until the final lap after Robertson won at the finish line.

Neal finished runner-up, followed by Ore, Michael Adams and Plemmons.  

In the QRC HVAC & Refrigeration Street Stock Series, Christian Joyce kept the momentum after winning last year’s championship, winning the season-opening race Saturday night. Joyce was able to withstand four cautions to win the race.

“This is the last race I haven’t won in this division,” Joyce said. “So, I really wanted it.” 

Nick Wall finished runner-up, followed by Evan Ingleston, Brad Lewis, and Austin Jones.  

“Dylan Ward (who works on Joyce’s car), he is the man,” Joyce said. “He gave me a hot rod.”

Following Myers’ win was the first Q104.1 Stadium Stock Series 15-lap race. And last year’s series-champion A.J. Sanders won. Chuck Wall finished runner-up, followed by Charlie Curry, Chris Allison and Tyler McDonald.

Brandon Crotts had a milestone of his own in the second Q104.1 Stadium Stock Series race by winning his first race in his 15 years of racing at Bowman Gray.

“It’s been a long time,” Crotts said. “I’ve been coming out here 15 years and this is the first one.”

Connor Keaton finished runner-up, followed by Austin Long and Matt Alley.

Next week, the night is highlighted by twin 25-lap races in the Brad’s Golf Car’s Modified Series. In addition, there will be twin 20-lap races in the Law Offices of John Barrow Sportsman Series.

With both the Modified and Sportsman Series next week there will be a “Madhouse Scramble” where the winner of the first race in each series will pull a number – 8, 10, 12, 14 or 16. The number that is pulled will invert the field for the second race.

In addition to the twin 25-lap races in the Modified Series and the twin 20-lap Sportsman Series, there will be a 20-lap race in the QRC HVAC & Refrigeration Street Stock Series, and there will be one or two 15-lap races in the Q104.1 Stadium Stock Series.

The final event of the night next week will be the wild Midway Mobile Storage Chain Race where teams of two cars are chained together. 

BGS Racing PR