The 2021 season for Brandon Ward has gotten off to an uncharacteristic start.
After visiting victory lane four times during the most recent season at Bowman Gray Stadium, Ward has been unable to put his Modified in a position to win races through four weekends.
Saturday evening played out in a similar manner for Ward, who settled for disappointing finishes of 7th and 14th.
“I’ve been a little frustrated with our performance this year,” Ward said. “These guys are working hard and they never quit. We’ve brought some good cars over here but we’ve just been a little off from where we need to be. We’ve also had some bad luck but that just happens.”
Known for his diverse racing background, success has followed Ward in every series he has competed in since beginning his career back in the 1990s.
Along with picking up victories in the NASCAR Goody’s Dash Series, USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series and PASS South Super Late Model Series, Ward also has a UARA STARS championship on his resume, which he claimed back in 2006.
Ward shifted away from full-bodied cars during the 2010s to explicitly focus on racing Modifieds and has continued his efficiency by winning nine races between the Southern Modified Racing Series and 602 Modified Tour.
Even with Bowman Gray shut down for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ward kept himself sharp by racing Modifieds along the East Coast and was ready to pick up from where he left off in 2019 when the track reopened in June.
Ward believed he would have had at least one victory after six Modified races at Bowman Gray but attributed some of his early-season struggles to the track’s current condition following a year of inactivity.
“This track has always had a lot of grip,” Ward said. “We race a soft tire and our setups cater to that. With the track being off for a year, it just doesn’t have the grip and the tires are harder. It’s the same for everybody, so we have to do a better job adapting.”
Ward is not using the lack of grip as an excuse for his performance and stressed the importance of having a perfect setup at Bowman Gray with former champions such as Tim Brown and Burt Myers in the Modified field every week.
Ward said that his car was to his liking on Saturday but an eighth-place qualifying run in the first 25-lap feature made it impossible for him to quickly move up from the field.
Track position continued to be a problem for Ward in the second feature until he was spun on the backstretch with only a handful of laps remaining, relegating him to 14th.
The twin 25-lap features have been a weak point for Ward’s program in 2021, especially with his cars performing much better in races that have long green flag runs.
Only one weekend consisting of the twin 25-lap Modified features remains on Bowman Gray’s schedule but Ward said that getting great track position will always be important regardless of how many laps are in a race.
“The biggest thing is going to be qualifying and that’s something we’ve been very strong in the past couple of seasons,” Ward said. “We’ve been a little bit off with qualifying this year but we’re going to get there. We’ve just got some work to do.”
Ward is confident that he can return to his winning ways following a much-needed break from Bowman Gray on Independence Day weekend.