Sportsman Field Grows at Bowman Gray
Qualifying will determine the field for the first race.
(Bowman Gray Stadium, Winston-Salem, NC) As Bowman Gray Stadium prepares to kick-off their 2010 racing season on April 24, the complexion of the Sportsman field may be changing. Judging by pre-season registrations and by the attendance at the GRIZZLY Pre-Season Practices, the Webb Heating & A/C Co. Sportsman Series may have 30 or more cars vying to make a 24-car field.
The quantity of cars is due in large part to the relatively low cost of competing in the Sportsman Division. “The Sportsman Series is really one of the most affordable classes of racing right now,” said Gray Garrison, promoter of Bowman Gray Stadium Racing. “Sportsman cars can have economical ‘crate’ motors and we also run an affordable tire. Many drivers feel they can be competitive and still keep their costs reasonable.”
To set the field of 24 cars for the opening night 40-lapper, the Sportsman Series will be qualifying the previous day – on Friday, April 23. The 14 fastest qualifiers will make the field, with 10 provisional spots being given to drivers who were in the top 20 in 2009 points standings and were unable to enter the lineup on qualifying time. If there are any remaining spots, they will be given to the remaining competitors in order of qualifying time. Then, the entire field of 24 cars will draw for starting positions.
That first qualifying lap of the season will be crucial, especially for new drivers to the division who need to turn a fast lap in order to make the field. Joseph “Bobo” Brown will be one such driver to jump behind the wheel of a Sportsman car this season. Brown won three races last season in the 104.1 WTQR Street Stock Series and finished an incredibly close second-place in the final points standings.
“Not being cocky – but there’s just better competition in the Sportsman Division,” said Brown about his motivation for moving up to a higher division. “I ran Street long enough, and I’ll like being out there with 15 or 20 cars that can win instead of 5 or 6.”
“My goal is to at least win one race. We’d like to win a race or two, keep the car in one piece, and not spend a lot of money putting it back together every week,” said Brown. “But we have to make the first race before all that,” said Brown as he and his crew intently worked on their car at the GRIZZLY Pre-Season Practices. “We have to qualify in the race first – so we’re concentrating on that.”
While some drivers are moving into the Sportsman Division, others may be making their exit. 2009 Sportsman Champion Ronnie Clifton is contemplating making the jump up to the Bill Plemmons RV World Modified Series at Bowman Gray Stadium. Clifton has taken the Sportsman Championship for the last eight straight years, so his possible departure would shake up the Sportsman points race. “The Modified car is ready to go; we just need tire money,” said Clifton. “I’m still waiting on a few sponsors.”
“I’ve done all I could do - and if I stay in the Sportsman Division, there’s nowhere to really go but down,” said Clifton. Like many Modified competitors, a major goal of Clifton’s is to have his name on the list of feature division winners – a list that includes racers such as Richard Petty, Ralph Earnhardt, Glen Wood, and countless other legends of the sport. “I love running Sportsman, but I’ve been over here 20 years running Street Stock and Sportsman. When I leave this place, my name won’t be in the book. If I win one Modified race, my name’s in there forever.”
The first qualifying session for the Webb Heating & A/C Co. Sportsman Series and the Bill Plemmons RV World Modified Series will be on Friday, April 23. The season-opening race will be the next day – Saturday, April 24. Gates open at 6:00 for practice and the first race begins at 8:00 PM. Ticket prices, directions, and more information can be found online at www.bowmangrayracing.com or by calling (336) 723-1819.
For more information on the GRIZZLY Study, visit http://pnpresearch.com/