Ward Breaks Winless Streak; Butner Also Takes Checkered at Bowman Gray

Brandon Ward and Randy Butner were the stars of the show Saturday night at Bowman Gray Stadium. Both drivers won the two 25-lap races in the Brad’s Golf Cars Modified Series.

Ward, who won the Modified points championship last year, claimed the title without winning a race. Saturday night, he picked up his first win since July 2022.

“It feels good to get one early on in the season,” Ward said. “We were really in points mode last year all year long, and we were able to complete that task. But really this year, it’s about winning races, and it was last year, too. It’s just when we got to a certain point and you’re trying to chase that deal, you’re really just trying to start focusing on it.

“So, this year to get a win out of the way this early in the season – as good as this car is – I feel like we can get several more. Let the points fall how they fall.”

It all started for Ward after he won the pole for the first race with the fastest qualifying lap so far this season at 13.297 seconds.

“Last year, this was a brand new car for us,” Ward said. “And it was good year, obviously. But we were building a notebook. We kept tweaking on it. We kept learning week-to-week. I feel like now we started this season with a notebook on this race car.”

The top five finishers were Ward, Tim Brown, Lee Jeffreys, Burt Myers and Jason Myers.

“I’m not going to say you automatically win because you sit on the pole, but it sure does give you a good chance at it,” Ward said. “It puts you in control of that first race, which is what you want. You really need to be on that front row to have a shot at it, because really you’re racing around all the good cars.”

The Madhouse Scramble was in play for the second 25-lap Modified race and Ward drew 12, which inverted the field there for the second race. That placed veteran Randy Butner on the pole for the start of the second race.

“It gives a chance to the cars that might be two or three ticks off to have a chance to win the race,” Butner said. “I’m going to tell you, there’s a lot of money in these cars over here – and those cars that are busting off those pole times and all, they’re very expensive cars. Some of us in the back don’t have that much car, and the invert gives us a chance to win a race, too.”

Butner, who is 64 years old and is in his 37th year racing at Bowman Gray, picked up his 22nd win of his career. Butner’s win moves him into a tie for 22nd place in wins in the Modified Series with Johnny Bryant and Billy Myers.

“If I got to leave a lasting legacy at this place, I want it to be that I treated everybody fair,” Butner said. “I raced fair and clean. And I feel like I can go in anybody’s hauler over here and make myself a sandwich and I would be welcome.”

Butner defeated Jordan Fleming, Burt Myers, Mike Speeney, and Chris Fleming, who is Jordan’s father.

“I’ve been over here a long time,” Butner said. “I’ve seen a lot of things. There aren’t many here that actually raced with Ralph Brinkley and Paul Radford. You know, memories like that, you can’t put a price on. I’ve raced with a lot of good race drivers over here, and I have a lot of good friends – met a lot of people, fans coming out of the stands that’s being coming for years. Their daddy and mama came, and their daddy and mama before them. So, it’s a special place.”

Butner dedicated the win to Stacey Harpe.

“We lost her last week, last Saturday, and had her funeral Thursday,” he said. “She was a big part of the racing community. She used to be married to Rusty Harpe. I don’t know if anybody remembers Rusty. He won a Street Stock championship over here. He was a good driver and we lost her.”

Zack Ore dominated the first 20-lap race in the Law Offices of John Barrow Sportsman Series race.

Ore started fourth, but he quickly moved into contention. He swerved past runner-up Braden Mills on the eighth lap and was never threatened after that.

“I don’t think anybody was going to catch me,” Ore said. “We got a great set up this year and this car is as fast as it looks.”

Chase Robertson was third, Michael Adams was fourth and Connor Branch was fifth.

Ore drew 12 in the Madhouse Scramble, which inverted the field for the second 20-lap Sportsman race, which put Tommy Neal on the pole.

Neal took advantage of the pole and led all 20 laps in the second race to pick up his 56th win of his career. “It feels great,” Neal said.

Austin Taylor was runner-up, followed by Wesley Thompson, Michael Adams, and Sterling Plemmons.

The final race of Saturday night was a battle to the very end, and Zack Staley captured the checkered flag in the 20-lap race for the QRC HVAC & Refrigeration Street Stock Series.

Staley had a slim lead over Kevin Gilbert on the final lap, but as they went around turn one, Gilbert was side-by-side with Staley. The 7 car of Staley pushed ahead, and fended off Gilbert for the win.

Christian Joyce was third, Nick Wall was fourth, and Cody Gum was fifth.

“I’ve never seen nothing like that,” Staley said of the fans flashing their cell phone lights after he won. “Y’all just made my night.”

Turnabout was fair play in the 15-lap race in the Q104.1 Stadium Stock Series. Much like the previous week after A.J. Sanders edged Chuck Wall to win the race, Wall slipped past Sanders on the final lap Saturday night to win.

“I thought it was good hard racing,” Wall said. “We’re good friends. I hope we’re still good friends. I didn’t raise any cain last week, so he pulled up there and got up there and hit me on the cool-down laps.”

“Right now, I think we’ve got the two quickest cars here, so we’re not going to win nothing arguing with one another. We’ve just got to move on.”

Grayson Keaton finished runner-up, followed by Sanders, Brandon Crotts, and Austin Cates.

Next week’s racing will feature the Kevin Powell Motorsports 100, which is a 100-lap race in the Brad’s Golf Cars Modified Series. In the 100-lap race, drivers will qualify, but there will be a full-field redraw for position, and there will also be the double-file restart cone.

Also there will be the Fans’ Challenge where the top four qualifiers have the option of going to the back of the field before the redraw takes place. If any driver electing to start in the rear ends up finishing in the top four, they will win the prize pool which starts at $3,000 next week. If nobody wins the money it will roll over to the next 100-lap Modified race, making it $6,000.

There will also be two 20-lap races in the Law Offices of John Barrow Sportsman Series. After the first Sportsman race there will be the “Madhouse Scramble” where the winning driver will draw 8, 10, 12, 14, or 16, which will invert the field for the second race from that number.

The QRC HVAC & Refrigeration Street Stock Series will have a 20-lap race, and there will be one or two races in the Q104.1 Stadium Stock Series.

BGS Racing PR