RENEW TICKETS TODAY! CALL US AT (603) 783-4931

BUMP STOPS: Bowman Gray, Bad Racing And Big Weekends

Thursday, May 19, 2011
Robert Johnson turns a lap during K&N Pro Series East testing at Bowman Gray Stadium last week. Photo: Nas

It's Thursday again.... Time to dust off the ol' Mini Stock for a spin around the cul-de-sac at the end of the street...

THE NASCAR K&N Pro Series East tested at Bowman Gray Stadium last week, and everybody was saying all the right things publicly.

But privately, folks have to be wondering what this race on June 4 is actually going to look like.

"I think that qualifying is going to be the race," said Cody Hodgson, who drives for Dave Davis Motorsports in Denver, N.C. "You get on that track and you can't even fit two cars side-by-side, so you have to wonder how you're ever going to pass somebody."

 

Most everybody knows Bowman Gray these days. It went from being a regional marvel in Winston-Salem, N.C., to a national phenomenon when the History Channel rolled out the one-and-done reality show "Madhouse" in 2009. The show highlighted the weekly Modified wars at the track, and it made personalities like Burt Myers and Junior Miller larger than life.

The track itself, though, is as cranky as Miller.

During summers, it's a ridiculously narrow one-groove quarter-mile that races in front of packed grandstands all the way around the little bullring. Every fall, it's a football stadium playing host to Winston-Salem State University games.

"I really wasn't sure what to expect and I have heard a lot of things about this track," said Revolution Racing driver Sergio Pena. "It is my first time (at Bowman Gray), and I really love it. It is pretty tough to drive and it is definitely a driver's track. You are going to have to be pretty smart during the race."

With their wide tires, low center of gravity and high horsepower, Modified racing has its place at Bowman Gray – providing an exciting brand of rough-and-tumble, bump-and-try-like-heck-to-run battles. But with the heavier and higher K&N Pro Series cars on narrower tires, one has to wonder if the racing will produce the same dramatics.

With 30 cars on the track at a time, lined up like a train all the way around the little layout, leaders are going to be into lapped traffic in a matter of just a handful of laps. And with very little room to maneuver, those lapped cars could prove an even bigger obstacle than normal.

One thing is for certain, there will be hot tempers after that race, and there will be nothing routine or ordinary about long green-flag runs.

I, for one, can't wait to see how it's going to play out. I think it could be the most interesting post-race garage area in K&N Pro Series East history.

"It will definitely be interesting," Hodgson said with a laugh.

SPEAKING OF ROUGH and tumble racing, Star Speedway in Epping certainly provided its share last Saturday night.

The wild Tour-type Modified feature won by Jon McKennedy was on the appetizer on the main course, which saw two-time Thompson International Speedway Super Late Model champion Derek Ramstrom win the PASS North Series Star 150 just ahead of steady raindrops.

The race looked like what you'd expect from a field at Bowman Gray – each of the Top-5 finishers were involved in AT LEAST one wreck on track, and third-place finish Joey Polewarczyk Jr. wrecked twice.

It was just that kind of night.

I'M SORRY. WHO won at Dover International Speedway last weekend? Matt Kenseth?

He's still racing?

RAIN LAST WEEKEND washed away the ACT Late Model Tour event at Oxford Plains Speedway, moving that race to Saturday night, June 4.

That sets up a rather interesting weekend for Late Model fans in northern New England, as the previously rained out Subway Fresh Fit 150 at Canaan Fair Speedway was moved to Sunday, June 5. Several ACT drivers were already entered in that event at Canaan, a non-ACT open race.

Somebody could potentially emerge with a couple of big paychecks – or someone could emerge with a very expensive tab if they don't make it out of the weekend unscathed. Either way, things certainly just got more interesting.

I DON'T CARE about "The Office" anymore.

In fact, I haven't cared about "The Office" since Jim and Pam got married.

Yawn.

YOU KNOW IT wasn't much of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race when the biggest story to come out of the post-race is the fact that FOX surprised everybody by going to a split-screen showing both a commercial and live race coverage for the final break in the coverage.

If that's the best story we can find at Dover, we've got issues in this sport far bigger than Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s 6,538-race winless streak.

CONNECTICUT MODIFIED DRIVER Keith Rocco is on top of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series standings for 2011.

That's not exactly news. Rocco, you may remember, won the national championship last year while competing every week at three short tracks – Thompson, Stafford Motor Speedway and Waterford Speedbowl.

It will be interesting to see how it shakes out for Rocco this year, as fields look a bit shorter there this year than in the past. A driver's points are credited, in part, to the number of cars in the starting field each week.

Some drivers out there – does the name Philip Morris ring a bell? – have been known to bring extra cars for their buddies to "race" late in the season to help boost car counts and guarantee full points for race wins. That's right, it's like the start-and-park phenomenon of weekly racing.

Good times.

YOU'VE BEEN A great audience. Try the chicken and green chile burritos, and don't forget to tape your waitress. Corey Stevens is here, so stick around.

– TB