Burt Myers grabs season-opener

By Tommy Bowman
Published: May 01, 2011

Burt Myers' ribs were feeling much better at 10:29 p.m. on Saturday night.

That's when he crossed the finish line as winner of the season-opening GMAC Insurance 200 at Bowman Gray Stadium.

Myers, Bowman Gray's defending Modified champion who punctured a lung and broke three ribs in a racing crash little more than two weeks ago, took the lead with 18 laps left and went on to a relatively pain-free victory in front of a full house at the 17,000-seat stadium.

"I was a little sore, but this does make it much better," said Myers, who won for the third time in the opening 200-lapper and for the 45th time overall in Bowman Gray's featured Modified Division.

The story behind this victory was tires. Myers pitted for fresh right-side tires during a caution with 55 laps left and it paid off down the stretch.

"I think we had enough car to win the race, but when the caution came out with about 50 to go I said, 'Shoot, we might as well give it a try,' " Myers said.

Myers fell back from eighth toward the rear of the field but quickly made up the difference with new tires and a couple of double-file restarts.

"I knew if we could ever get to that outside spot we'd have a really good shot at it because we did have tires," he said.

"New tires can make you look like a hero."

Brian Loftin, who led more laps than anyone, said that tires indeed made a difference.

"Without a doubt," said Loftin, last year's title runner-up who hung tough but finally relented the lead to Myers. "If everybody was on the same tires I don't think anybody could have run with us, but everything played in Burt's favor. To get back up there as quick as he did with two new tires, that was definitely the difference."

It would have been a special victory for Loftin, whose wife, Melissa, was killed in an automobile accident on March 15.

"It's been a rough few weeks," Loftin said. "I owe it all to my guys for putting the car together. I haven't spent any time hardly at all to work on it."

Myers said: "I always hate passing my brother, and tonight there was a soft spot in my heart I didn't want to pass that No.?23 (Loftin). Our thoughts and prayers are still going out to that family."

Jonathan Brown made a late charge at the lead but finished second. Loftin finished third, John Smith fourth and early leader Lee Jeffreys fifth. Tim Brown, who started from the pole position, got caught in a collision with Jason Myers battling for sixth place in the final lap and finished 11th.

Luke Fleming picked up a season-opening win in the Sportsman Division. David Sumner won a 20-lap Street Stock race, and Wesley Thompson won a 15-lap race for the Stadium Stock Division.

In the Modified race, Brent Elliott experienced a scary moment when his car got clipped trying to gain position and he rode the metal guardrail much of the way down the front stretch before finally coming to rest on top of it.

Elliott said he was worried about skipping off the top of the railing and toward the concrete grandstand.

"I was just afraid I was going to get in the stands and hurt somebody or the flagman," Elliott said.

Elliott was fine, but his mangled car wasn't.

"We're probably done for the year," Elliott said. "We come over here on a wing and a prayer, anyway."

Among drivers making their debut in Bowman Gray's weekly divisions were 14-year-old John Holleman IV. Holleman, who finished 13th in the Street Stock Division, won a national championship last year in the Bandeleros Outlaw Division of the U.S. Legends Cars Series.

Two drivers Danny Bohn and Ronnie Clifton made their debut in Bowman Gray's featured Modified Division. Bohn, from Freehold, N.J., and now living in Mooresville, finished 13th. Clifton, who moved to the Modified Division after winning eight Sportsman titles, was 24th after an early exit.

Fleming took the lead from polesitter Barry Edwards on a double-file restart in the eighth lap and hung on from there in a 40-lap Sportsman race. Tommy Neal finished second and Kenny Bost was third.

FIN
CAR
DRIVER
1
1
Burt Myers
2
53
Jonathan Brown
3
23
Brian Loftin
4
25
John Smith
5
77
Lee Jeffreys
6
50
Michael Clifton
7
81
Austin Pack
8
13
Chris Fleming
9
5
Randy Butner
10
4
Jason Myers
11
83
Tim Brown
12
27
Jeremy Stoltz
13
59
Danny Bohn
14
75
Robert Jeffreys
15
04
Kevin Powell
16
48
Brad Robbins
17
6
Kevin Wilson
18
69
Junior Miller
19
28
Joseph Brown
20
12
Mike Norman
21
71
Dean Ward
22
72
Brent Elliott
23
7
Bobby Reed
24
66
Ronnie Clifton

Sportsman

FIN
CAR
DRIVER
1
13
Luke Fleming
2
21
Tommy Neal
3
18
Kenny Bost
4
05
Kyle Edwards
5
50
Barry Edwards
6
02
Derek Stoltz
7
72
Bryant Robertson
8
68
Robbie Brewer
9
38
Mitch Gales
10
19
Michael Adams
11
3
Jeff Garrison
12
12
Evan Duggins
13
81
Zack Clifton
14
79
John Lain
15
9
David Adams
16
30
Cody Evans
17
86
Taylor Branch
18
22
Todd Gray
19
7
Ronnie Barron
20
07
Danny Cornwell
21
60
Jeff McCrary
22
17
Kevin Neal
23
23
Justin Boyles

Street Stock

FIN
CAR
DRIVER
1
1
David Sumner
2
99
John McNeal
3
14
Randy Larimore
4
25
Johnny Arnder
5
27
Matt Cotner
6
32
Craig West
7
98
Billy Gregg
8
21
Justin Taylor
9
9
Darren Cotner
10
22
Willie Wall
11
23
Kris Hoots
12
66
Whitney Clifton
13
4
John Holleman
14
5
Austin Edwards
15
12
Doug Wall
16
13
Kevin Gilbert
17
31
Brad Lewis
18
17
Brian Doty
19
39
David Thomas
20
15
Jerry Helms
21
00
Donnie Martin
22
05
Spencer Martin
23
04
Reggie Doub
24
55
Stephen Baker

Stadium Stock

FIN
CAR
DRIVER
1
02
Wesley Thompson
2
24
A.J. Sanders
3
22
Jason Tutterow
4
17
Andy Southern
5
81
Chuck Wall
6
95
Billy Cameron Jr
7
77
Randy McElveen
8
26
Derek Taylor
9
54
Jeremy Smith
10
6
Dale Patterson
11
93
Robert Collins
12
60
Ted Mickalowski
13
01
Jason Keaton
14
66
Eric Hockett
15
74
Jose Gonzalez
16
20
Dennis Weaver
17
19
Jeremy Stainback
18
48
Bobby Smith
19
27
Joey Long
20
05
Dave Surry
21
46
Allan Lipford
22
4
Andrew Sanders
23
37
Steve Smith
24
53
Kacey Phillips

RACE PHOTOS

 

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