By Tommy Bowman
Published: June 18th, 2011
Dean Ward has won 176 times in various forms of racing but said it seemed like a long wait for win No. 1 in Bowman Gray Stadium's Modified Division.
Ward charged to the front in the early stages of Saturday night's 100-lapper and finally got the elusive victory.
Ward , in his third year driving in the featured Modified Division for car owner Chip Harpe , had his previous best Modified finish May 28, when he came in second to first-time winner Joseph "Bobo" Brown. A week before that, he was running a close second to eventual winner John Smith when an ignition problem sidelined him .
Last night, Ward completed the mission.
"It's been a long time," said Ward , whose last victory had been six years ago in a UARA Late Model race at then-paved Friendship Speedway . "You never know what you're due for, but I would have given my last breath for a win because these guys on this team deserve it more than I do."
Ward had long winning streaks years ago in Bowman Gray's old Blunderbust and Buzzbomber divisions — where he won four seasons titles — and did the same as a Mini Stock and Late Model driver at Ace and South Boston speedways.
But a victory in Bowman Gray's Modified Division had been elusive.
"We've had chances," Ward said. "And I told the guys on the radio, even on the white-flag lap, don't say a word."
Ward took the lead from pole-sitter Michael Clifton on a double-file restart in the 33rd lap.
"He took off before we even got to the starting line," said Clifton, who met a worse fate later.
Ward said: "I thought he jumped. When he popped the gas, I thought he was going. Like a football player, when the center moves the ball, you go."
Clifton got the jump on an ensuing restart, and got most of the way around Ward into the first turn before he was clipped. Ward slipped past the spinning Clifton and led the rest of the way.
"I was going to back off early and roll the corner so I wouldn't slide into him, and he must have thought he was clear and came over on my right-front tire," Ward said. "A lot of people think over here you get into someone, and it's rough, but you're racing around a football field."
Clifton saw it differently and said there might be a similar situation sometime.
"What goes around, comes around," said Clifton, who was seeking his first win of the season. "Any situation where the 50 gets behind the 71, the 71 isn't going to like."
Brown, a rookie with three top-three finishes this year, was second, and Brian Loftin was third.
Burt Myers recovered from an early spin that dropped him to the rear and finished fourth. That was good enough to stretch his points lead from four to 28 points over Jonathan Brown, who lost several laps as result of damage to his car and finished 15th.
Robbie Brewer and Michael Adams won 20-lap races in the Sportsman Division.
Brewer was running third in the first race when he inherited the lead in a 12th-lap tangle between leader Tommy Neal and challenging Taylor Branch. Brewer led the rest of the way for his first victory of the season. In the second race, Adams led all the way for his first victory.
Billy Gregg took the lead in the nick of time — just seconds before a final caution in a Street Stock race that reached a 20-minute time limit before being able to resume. It was the first victory of the season for Gregg, who slipped past David Sumner in the 16th and final lap.
Drew Moffitt led all the way in the longest Stadium Stock race of the year, which was extended to 58 laps because of a late caution, and won for the second time this season.