Brown rallies to win 200-lapper
Defending champion passes Jeffreys with 53 laps left to win race for 2nd year in a row
By Tommy Bowman/ JOURNAL REPORTER
Tim Brown spent most of last night hanging on to what he had. But it was one aggressive charge to get back what he had lost that got him to the checkered flag.
Brown led most of the way in last night's season-opening Tucson 200 at Bowman Gray Stadium, but it was his ascent from a very temporary second place that was most impressive.
He passed Lee Jeffreys on the outside after a round of side-by-side dueling with 53 laps left and sailed on to victory in front of a packed house at the 17,000-seat stadium.
Brown won last season's opening 200-lapper before going on to his record-tying eighth Bowman Gray championship.
"We're looking for our ninth and what a great way to start the season," said Brown, who got his 51st career victory. "We sat on the pole with the fastest lap and led nearly the entire race…. I'm very blessed and loving life right now. If I was any better there would be two of me."
Derek Stoltz won a 40-lap race for the Sportsman Division. Jody Fritts won a 20-lap Street Stock race, and Ted Mickalowski and Phillip Wright won 15-lap races for the Stadium Stock Division.
Brown, clinging to the preferred inside line, endured seven restarts and challenges by Burt Myers on the outside before finally finding himself in a predicament with about 60 laps left.
"Me and Burt race hard and he gave me a shot that about spun me, and that let Lee get by me," Brown said. "I was like, ‘Hey, we've got about 50 laps to go, so I need to man up and put this thing back in the front.' "
Jeffreys' lead was short-lived. Brown, going to the outside on the restart, regained the lead and resumed hanging on from there.
"I want to thank Lee Jeff-reys for giving me room enough to race him on the outside," Brown said. "I've got a great race car, and Burt came up and challenged me a few times, but we could drive away from 'em tonight."
Jeffreys said: "I probably gave him more room that he would have given me, but I try to race people clean. Some people here you can race with; some you can't. We had a good run, but nobody could get the 83 car (Brown). We went as hard as we could go at the end, and he was driving away."
Jeffreys fended off a challenge by hard-charging Zack Brewer to protect second. Zack Brewer finished third and Junior Miller fourth.
Myers, who has a history of success passing on the outside, had one final shot at Brown. Myers, figuring he had little to lose with only 12 of the initial 24 cars remaining in the late stages, pitted for fresh tires but still couldn't maneuver past Brown on the outside on a final restart with 16 laps left.
Brown said that when he heard that Myers put on new tires, he figured that Myers would be the car to beat. "I drove in there hard on old tires and knocked him back a little bit," Brown said. "He might see it different, but it was just hard racing for the win."
Myers, who finished sixth, said: "Tim gave me a pretty good nerf shot down there, but that's Bowman Gray racing. What are you going to say? It is difficult from the outside. You're at the other guy's mercy when you're out there.
"But, you know, this was our tour car and it wasn't even supposed to be here, so to have the run that we did…. I'm not satisfied by any means but you have to suck it up and say you'll take it."
Stoltz, who won a division-leading four times last season, took the lead from pole-sitter Daniel Beeson in the opening lap and pulled away. Ryan Robertson finished second and Luke Fleming third.
WXII RE-CAP COVERAGE
"TUCSON 200 FINISH"
Run-down by: Zee Curtis
1. #83 Tim Brown
2. #77 Lee Jeffery's
3. #11 Zach Brewer
4. #69 Jr. Miller
5. #71 Dean Ward
6. #1 Burt Myers
7. #17 Brian King
8. #75 Robert Jeffery's
9. #12 Mike Norman
10. #99 Kevin Powell
11. #4 Jason Myers
12. #40 Brad Robbins
13. #81 Austin Pack
14. #3 Terry Gaither
15. #28 Andrew Durham
16. #70 Al Hill
17. #36 Rupert Sink
18. #53 Jonathan Brown
19. #5 Randy Butner
20. #97 Brian Dauzat
21. #20 Jermery Stoltz
22. #23 Brian Loftin
23. #25 John Smith
24. #50 Micheal Clifton