Tim Brown living his racing dream
He can tie Brinkley's record of eight Bowman Gray Modified titles tonight
By Tommy Bowman / JOURNAL REPORTER
Published:August 15, 2009
Tim Brown recorded the first of his 50 victories at Bowman Gray Stadium on a May night in 1993.
He won the first of two 25-lap races for the featured Modified Division that night and, as first-race winners do, he pulled a number from a bag to determine the starting order of the second race.
That draw put eight-time champion Ralph Brinkley on the pole, and Brinkley went on to share the winner's stage with Brown that night.
Tonight, Brown could reach another landmark. If he does, he will share it with Brinkley as well.
Brown has the lead in Modified Division standings heading into tonight's 150-lap finale -- the Carolina Farm Credit 150 -- and, if he hangs onto it, he will win his eighth championship. That will match the record long held by Brinkley, who won eight titles from 1973 through 1987.
"It's something I would have never dreamed," said Brown, a 37-year-old Yadkin County native who now lives in Cana, Va., and maintains his car at his grandfather's shop in Rural Hall. "I grew up watching Ralph Brinkley and Junior Miller and Gary Myers and Robert Jeffreys and Satch Worley and all those guys race. I just wanted to race, too.
"I never dreamed I'd win a race, much less 50 of them and seven or eight championships. It's just been awesome. And whatever happens Saturday, I'm still proud of everything this race team has accomplished."
It would take some doing for Brown not to win his second straight title -- he has finished outside the top 10 just three times in 21 races this year. But he does have challengers.
Brown leads Burt Myers by 44 points heading into tonight's double-points race. Myers will have to finish 11 positions ahead of Brown to overtake him in the standings.
Jonathan Brown, no relation to Tim Brown, trails by 45 points. He would need to finish ahead of Myers and finish 12 spots ahead of Tim Brown.
Randy Butner has a mathematical chance but trails by 62 points.
Tim Brown said that his approach won't be any different from any other when he has had a title on the line, even though his points lead is larger than in most years.
"There's still a lot that is out of your control once the green flag drops," Brown said. "You just be as smart as you can. I'm not going to force the issue to win a race when all I have to do is finish 10th or better. I'm not stupid. I haven't won seven championships by being not smart."
Myers, who has won the championship three times, has had a productive season that includes a division-best six victories.
"At this point, I can't really worry too much about the championship," said Myers, who drives a car owned by former champion Philip Smith. "It's not mine to lose. It's mine to win. Basically what I've got to do is go out and win the race. I can't control what happens to Tim or anybody else. If I can go out and win the race and happen to win the championship, that's great. But my goal is just to try to win the race.
"If the season were to end right now, I've got the most wins, the most poles, the most laps led, the fastest lap of the year. I can't consider that a bad year.
"I'm pleased with the season. It's not Tim Brown's doing that I had bad luck and had mechanical problems a couple of races that got me behind. Tim's had a good, consistent year. We've just had a little bit too much bad luck in an otherwise good year."
Jonathan Brown, in his first full season in the Modified Division, has had a breakthrough season with three victories.
"If anyone had told me we'd have three wins and come down to the end with at least a shot at a championship I wouldn't have believed it," said Jonathan Brown, who drives a car owned by veteran racer Melvin "Puddin'" Swisher. "I'm very pleased with the way this year has turned out and we're not giving up. We're going with plans to win the race."
Qualifying will determine tonight's starting lineup, and there will be no double-file restarts.
Brown said that there's no anxiety about being so close to a record-tying title.
"I'm not nervous about it," he said. "I've got a great race car and a great race team. We've done everything we can possibly do to win it, and this is what we work all winter preparing for. If it's meant to be, it will happen. If it's not meant to be, we'll try again next year and the next year."