A season of controversies, rivalries, new faces in victory lane and everything else that makes Bowman Gray Stadium one of the most talked-about short tracks in America comes down to one final 150-lap, double point event for the track’s Modified division this Saturday night.
And as if the top three in points, Lee Jeffreys, Jason Myers and Danny Bohn being separated by just 14 markers wasn’t enough drama going into Saturday’s finale, an incident at the end of last Saturday’s Modified feature has ramped up this week’s pre-race smack talk.
In last week’s second twin 50-lap feature at the Winston-Salem, North Carolina track, Bohn and Chris Fleming, who is not in the points hunt, tangled while battling for the lead. The incident caused Bohn to fall back and rally in the closing laps for a seventh-place finish, while Fleming went on to win the race (video at the bottom of the page).
This Saturday, Fleming and Bohn will battle again as one driver goes for a championship while the other is there just to take another victory. Add in the tight championship battle and a season’s worth of bad blood and this Saturday’s 150-lap double-point feature is sure to be as dramatic as ever.
“I really don’t know what I did to the Flemings,” Bohn told Speed51.com powered by JEGS Wednesday as he prepared for the NASCAR Modified Tour event at Bristol (TN). “I guess they’re just mad that I out-run them. He cleaned me out last week. Supposedly he doesn’t want me to win the points so they’re going to bring their whole clan to wreck me. Junior Miller is after me for whatever reason. I don’t know, I guess we’ll see what happens.
“I’m just going to run my race. You hear so much stuff about what’s going to go on the last night. It’s really hard to tell exactly what’s going to happen.”
Fleming picked up his third win of the 2014 season after the incident with Bohn last Saturday. Wednesday, some words allegedly flew between Fleming and Bohn’s crew while both were at Bristol Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Modified Tour and Southern Modified Tour combination event. Even at the mid-point between last week’s and this week’s Modified races at Bowman Gray, emotions ran high.
“Somebody said something to me about what happened last Saturday night, but I didn’t even listen to it,” said Fleming, who was at Bristol Wednesday helping his son Luke’s Tour Modified efforts. “It was over in just a second. Everything’s going to be alright. Everybody’s got their view of what happened. I’ve got mine. I won the race.”
While he hasn’t raced in all the events this season and is therefore not in the championship picture, Fleming is only looking out for his own success Saturday night.
“I’m going to tell anybody that’s running for the championship that I’m there to win,” Fleming told 51 about his role in any carryover from last week’s race. “I’m not going to bother them, but if they want to win the championship, they better race me the way they’re supposed to race me.”
Fleming and his family have raced at Bowman Gray for years. His brother Frank has won races there, as has Chris’s son Luke. He knows that upwards of 15,000 fans pack the grandstands at the quarter-mile every Summer Saturday night to see jaw-dropping storylines play out.
This Saturday won’t be any different for Fleming.
“There’s been plenty of drama,” said Fleming. “Anytime you run up front there’s going to be drama. I’ve been cussed, threatened, had my life threatened, same old bullcrap. People love Bowman Gray Stadium. They live it. It’s good that I give somebody a little excitement in their life for a couple hours a week.”
Bohn finds himself trying to beat point leader Lee Jeffreys and second-place Jason Myers Saturday in order to win the championship. At the same time, there will be plenty of action all around him between title contenders and those like Fleming just going for one final victory.
“Me, Jason and Burt (Myers), just about every Modified race we go to, we’re racing against each other,” said Bohn. “Some of those guy just race at Bowman Gray and all they know how to do is wreck people. They’re not fast enough to pass them, so they just drive through them. That’s not the way I race or the way I was brought up to race. Unfortunately that’s the way it is at Bowman Gray.
“I’m not going to lower myself to race that way. If things falls to where we win the championship, that’d be awesome, don’t get me wrong, but there’s going to be some battles and some things to overcome. We can do it, it’s just going to depend on how the other people race.”
Bohn, a New Jersey native now living in Mooresville, North Carolina, also has the motivation of a potential first championship for car owner Melvin “Puddin'” Swisher.
“(Swisher’s) been running there forever,” said Bohn. “Puddin’ has never won a championship there. I don’t really know the numbers, but from what I understand they’ve never won a championship. Puddin’s the kind of guy that would like to win it, but he also wants to be run fairly.
“What happened last week wasn’t fair.”
Speed51.com will be live with Trackside Now coverage presented by Citrusafe of the Modified finale at Bowman Gray Stadium Saturday.
– By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Director – Twitter: @MattKentfield. Photo credit: Speed51.com