Brandon Ward claimed his third consecutive Southern Modified Racing Series victory of the 2017 season, but it was anything but easy.
Ward held off a hard-charging Burt Myers to pick up the victory at Southern National Motorsports Park, expanding his points lead in the 12-race championship.
“We’ve had a really good race car,” Ward told Speed51.com powered by JEGS in victory lane. “I can’t thank Will Spaugh and Jeff Day enough. Will owns this car and crew chiefs it. He does a great job. Pits stops have been great. We’ve really dug deep on this program in the offseason.
“We knew we needed to be better,” Ward continued. “We’ve just been striving to get better.”
Ward had been one of the fastest cars all afternoon in Lucama, North Carolina, setting quick times in practice and claiming the pole award for the 125-lap event.
A re-draw for the top six qualifiers placed Ward third on the grid, and he rode in the top five for most of the race. After fading slightly before a lap 80 caution, Ward rejoined the field in second place, putting him in position to take the lead.
Ward assumed the top spot on lap 102, passing Bobby Measmer, Jr. for the lead. The caution flew immediately afterwards for a James Civali spin, but Ward protected the lead on the restart.
Ward pulled away from Measmer and many of the other front-runners, but a hard-charging Burt Myers carved his way through the field. Myers entered the fifth spot with 15 laps to go, and quickly passed Danny Bohn, Measmer, and Jeremy Gerstner to move into second.
“We had a little altercation right before the restart,” Myers said. “I was really trying to bide my time, I’ve ran enough races here to know that 80 laps into the race was still too early to run hard. We just fell a little too far back because of the altercation we had.
“I thought I timed it just right,” Myers added. “We just ran out of laps and come up a little bit short. I think we had the best car tonight, but when it’s not your night, it’s not your night.”
Myers closed the gap on Ward with much better drive exiting the corner, but ran out of time in his bid to snap Ward’s winning streak.
“It was all-out at the end,” Ward said about Myers’ charge. “We knew he was coming hard. He was better than we were, forward-drive wise, coming out of the corner. I felt like we saved more than he did in the beginning, but he did a better job after the pit stop. Me and [Measmer] raced really hard for the lead, and it almost bit us.”
The victory was a special one for Ward. On August 2, 2013, Ward’s long-time friend and crew member Mike Sabiston tragically passed away while unloading a Super Late Model at Southern National Motorsports Park. Nearly four years later, Ward was able to stand in victory lane there.
“To win here means a lot,” Ward said. “A few years ago, we lost a crew member, Mike Sabiston, we lost him here. Nothing could ever give back what we lost here, but we’ve felt like since then, it’s hard to come here. We really felt like this place owed us something. Tonight, I think he was riding right there with us.”
For an on-demand Trackside Now replay of Saturday’s race, click here.
-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Southern Modified Racing Series Unofficial Results
Southern National Motorsports Park (NC) – April 8, 2017
|4||14||Bobby Measmer Jr.|