WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – A packed house greeted Bowman Gray Stadium competitors as the legendary short track opened its NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series season Saturday night with the annual running of the Hayes Jewelers 200 for the Brad’s Golf Cars Modified division.
After 200 laps, it was New Jersey’s Danny Bohn who left the quarter-mile flat oval with the trophy. He dominated the race, taking the lead from polesitter and defending track champion Tim Brown on Lap 6 and leading the rest of the distance for his first victory in Bowman Gray’s Crown Jewel event.
Bohn, who has starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series during his career, is the first Northern-born driver to win the Hayes Jewelers 200 since Jerry Cook won the 200-lap event in 1980.
It was his 16th career victory at Bowman Gray Stadium in 121 starts.
“I’ve won the 199 a couple of times, the championship, the 100 lappers. I’ve not won the 200 lapper. This was what I was coming for this year,” said Bohn, the 2014 Brad’s Golf Cars Modified champion at Bowman Gray. “I knew if I could control the race with the way the track was it would be tough to pass us. Tire wear wasn’t bad.
“It’s pretty awesome to see this crowd. This place is special to me. I’ve been able to do some NASCAR starts and stuff, but it was all because of here. I’m going to come support this place when I can.”
Brandon Ward was second, followed by Jason Myers, Chris Fleming and John Smith. Brown faded to seventh after leading the first five laps of the race.
In other action, defending McDowell Heating & Air Sportsman track champion Tommy Neal survived multiple caution flags to win the 40-lap feature that opened the night of racing.
Neal led every lap of the feature after starting from the pole. He was joined on the front row by his grandson, Riley Neal, who was making his first Bowman Gray start in the Sportsman division. Tommy Neal is a four-time track champion at Bowman Gray, having won two track championships each in the Sportsman and Stadium Stock divisions.
The Stadium Stock division was split into a pair of 15-lap features, with Tyler McDonald and A.J. Sanders picking up victories.
In the first race, McDonald took the lead from Tyler Bush on the 14th circuit after muscling his way to the inside. Bush, who faded to third, shared his displeasure with McDonald by making contact with him post-race and pushing him into the infield grass.
Sanders also scored a dramatic victory in the second Stadium Stock race. Race leader Chuck Wall fell off the pace a few laps from the checkered flag, which elevated Sanders to second. He then took the lead from Luke Smith coming to the white flag and held on to win his first feature of the year and 50th of his career at Bowman Gray.
The evening was bookended by a 20-lap feature for the Law Offices of John Barrow Street Stocks, with Bryan Sykes collecting the victory ahead of Nate Gregg.
Bowman Gray Stadium will be in action on most Saturday nights through Aug. 20, with the Modified, Sportsman, Street Stock and Stadium Stock classes typically sharing the card. The venue will also host its popular Crash Fest and Night of Destruction events on May 21 and July 16, respectively.
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