It was a strange start to the 2016 season.
When the dust had settled on the season opener at South Boston Speedway (VA), all the former National Champions in the field were spun out and torn up at the end of the first of two 100-lap Late Model Stock Car races Saturday night.
"To come out and have a sweep like this is amazing," said Bowling. "We have never won both races before and tonight we took care of that. We had to work for these today and that makes it even sweeter."
Early on in race one Philip Morris made contact with Peyton Sellers, which gave both cars lots of damage and caused a caution. Both would continue, but the damage hindered the rest of their nights. It was this strange occurrence that just seemed to set the stage for the rest of the night.
Several drivers took turns out front before CE Falk charged to the point to lead several laps. Yellows kept bunching the field up to brew the craziness that would end the first race.
It all started when race leader CE Falk and Lee Pulliam were battling hard for the lead. When they were side-by-side they made contact that sent Pulliam for a spin in turn one and out of the lead. Falk was able to continue up front.
"I don't understand I have never raced him like that," Pulliam told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. "I have raced a lot of years and that didn't take a lot of talent to do what he did."
"We were side-by-side and banged wheels,” Falk told 51. “We were racing hard for a win and that's what I was trying to do. I didn't wreck him. It was just a hard race for the win.”
On the restart things got crazy again as the battled fanned out four wide for the lead at one point.
Austin Thaxton shot low on Matt Bowling and Falk to make it three wide in the closing laps of the first race. Bobby McCarty had a peak at four wide, but thought better of it. Falk got squeezed out, which left Thaxton the leader off turn two. Falk shot up the track and almost hit the wall.
It appeared that Bowling made contact with Thaxton in the next set of corners, which gave him the lead back and second to Bobby McCarty. That’s how the top three finished the first race.
"I was able to get to the lead and he took it three wide on me," explained Bowling. "Somehow we were able to save it and hang on to second and get back by him for the win. That was just about too exciting but it worked out.
"It was a wild night and I guess we are the only ones that game out good on all of this."
Thaxton had a different view of it all.
"Bowling just wrecked us," said Thaxton on the first race. "I kinda knew it when we were going in because that the way he's always raced me. We'll put that in the memory bank and move on."
Falk and Pulliam exchanged words after the first race as the crowd reacted to the minor discussion on pit road.
Race two was more bad luck for Thaxton in the final laps as lapped cars took away his racing line and allowed Bowling to sneak by for the top spot.
"Every time we got a good run on the leader a caution would come out or a lap car would mess us up.," said Bowling after his second win. "My crew chief HC (Sellers) kept saying be patient and it will all work out. We didn't run out of laps and it did work out."
Thaxton was upset again on the podium as he saw two good chances slip past him.
"We were racing hard and the lap cars act like they are brand new to this deal," said Thaxton on race two. "It's not the first time you have ever been to a race track. Everybody should go low. I run into the back of three cars. Next time they get in my way I am just going to wreck them. It cost me a race."
News & Notes:
Matt Bowling told Speed51.com he will not chase points at South Boston and that he will run for the CARS Tour Late Model Title this year. Their first race is April 2 at Southern National Motorsports Park (NC).
Joey Throckmorton won the Limited Sportsman feature after setting fast time earlier in the day. The class is wide open this year with 2015 champion Trey Crews and multi-time champion Danny Willis having moved up to Late Model Stock Car.
Paving will take place on the Monday after the final race at South Boston Speedway in September. The track staff said there are some more surprises coming for SoBo this year and in the future.
South Boston Speedway will be back in action on Saturday, March 19th with a 100-lap Late Model Stock Car event.
Kristen Simmons won the Hornets feature for her first career win, Jimmy Humblet took the Modified feature and Johnny Layne won the Pure Stock race.
For full results and more from the track, replay Speed51.com's Speed Central coverage from South Boston: click here
-By Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Correspondent
- Photo credit: Speed51.com