Brandon Ward crossed the line first and took the checkered flag in Saturday night’s Hayes Jewelers 200 — the season-opening Tour Type Modified race at Bowman Gray Stadium — but the win has been taken away and awarded to John Smith just two days following the event.
Track officials confirmed the news via a press release on Monday, stating “there was an error on the part of the scorer for Ward’s team” and that his actual finishing position was 13th. The error has to do with an incident earlier in the race that caused Ward to lose three laps.
Speaking with Short Track Scene shortly after the news broke, Ward said the main issue had to do with the fact that Bowman Gray scores races by hand rather than the use of transponders — the standard method of scoring in short track racing. As a result, Ward says he was credited with being on the lead lap when he was three laps down.
“We never got the free pass but should have,” Ward said on Monday. “What happened was, we lost three laps and we knew it. We knew the whole deal the whole time. Lost two laps on track, one on pit road. We tried to tell one of the officials we should have still been lucky dog eligible on the next two laps. They kept telling us we were on the lead lap. They were still scoring us on the lead lap.
“We ended up getting back to the lead, making one of our laps back and they were scoring us as the leader. Their mistake, they didn’t catch it. We wondered the whole time why they’re the only track that doesn’t use a transponder system. They messed up the whole scoring deal. Finally, we had to go with it.”
Ward wasn’t upset that Bowman Gray Stadium took the win away from him on Monday, but he did feel that Saturday’s scoring resulted in him ultimately getting a worse result than he could have gotten on the track had he been able to race his way back on the lead lap.
“I look at it a couple different ways. In one way, I’m glad they took it because I don’t want it to look like they gave us anything,” Ward explained. “The biggest problem I have is that they have no transponders so the scoring got screwed up during the race which prevented us from having a chance to make our laps up. I feel confident we could have got back on the lead lap and had a chance to race for the win or finish top-five which is way better than what we ended up with.
“Their mistake, them telling us we were on the lead lap, kept us from being eligible to make those laps back up. I have no problem with them catching it and fixing it, I really don’t.”
Bowman Gray Stadium public relations manager Loren Pinilis told Short Track Scene he was unaware of what was communicated to Ward’s team by race control during the race. Because of the distance of the race and the amount of cars in the event, Pinilis said every team had a scorer in the tower because the events are scored by hand.
“John Smith, great driver, I don’t want him or anybody to get cheated out of anything,” Ward remarked. “I have no problem fixing it, I just wish they could get their scoring system updated so they know what’s going on so we can do what we need to do to get back on the lead lap.”
Bowman Gray’s season opener is not the only event this year to have the on track action overshadowed by scoring issues. Last month, Tyler Hughes was credited with the victory at the inaugural race held at Dominion Raceway even though it was Nick Smith who took the checkered flag. Dominion Raceway said too many laps were run and, citing precedent from a NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at New Smyrna back in February where a similar incident occurred, awarded the win to Hughes.
– Photo: Brandon Ward in victory lane after the Hayes Jewelers 200 at Bowman Gray Stadium (Credit: Eric Hylton/Eric Hylton Photography for Bowman Gray Stadium)