“The real Brandon Ward showed himself tonight.”
Burt Myers did not hold back in his disapproval of fellow Bowman Gray Stadium competitor following a series of incidents that took place inside of 50 laps to go in Saturday’s season-finale.
Myers had been running inside the Top 5 and was in a perfect position to beat long-time rival Tim Brown in becoming an 11-time champion before he and Ward came to blows on track.
What Myers thought was a simple on-track incident between him and Ward devolved into an excursion that he said will linger over the offseason and into 2022.
“I felt that he thought I was going to be vulnerable because I was trying to win a championship,” Myers said. “He thought I would give him the spot if he squeezed me but I can’t give him a spot if we’re door-to-door. I let him get in front of me, I barely bumped and he spun himself out. Then he showed everyone who he really was.”
Following the contact that sent him around off the front bumper of Myers in Turn 3, a furious Ward drove his car around the track before cutting across Myers’ front bumper under caution.
Things are getting spicy at Bowman Gray. pic.twitter.com/nJ1Q4cRJFV
— Bozi Tatarevic (@BoziTatarevic) August 22, 2021
A slow but intense chase commenced over the next caution lap with Ward driving his car into Myers on multiple occasions. The pursuit ended when Ward spun Myers’ car into the Turn 2 wall, causing further damage to the championship contender’s car.
Ward had tried to race Myers’ clean and give him the necessary respect to properly pursue a title. Despite this, he said Myers crossed a line by spinning him out of a chance to win the last race of the year at Bowman Gray.
“[Myers] ran over us getting into Turn 1 but I thought that was racing,” Ward said. “We’re going around a quarter-mile football field. That stuff happens. Then we get into Turns 3 and 4 on the next lap and he drives under us and dumps us. He ruined our chance to win the race.”
Victory lane had eluded Ward all season long after he took home four checkered flags at Bowman Gray in 2019 but he was determined to shake off a year of frustration and finally reward his team’s strenuous work on the car.
Ward was disappointed over the way the incident between him and Myers escalated but added that he was not going to tolerate getting turned around while competing for a win.
“We shouldn’t have to race like that,” Ward said. “We were going to have more restarts and if [Myers] was better than us, he would have gotten back around us. I tried to be respectful but we’re here to win races. I hate it came down to that but if I had to do it all over again, I would.”
Although race control gave Myers his third-place position back following the skirmish, he admitted that his car was in no shape to properly challenge Brown for the championship in the race’s closing stages.
“[The wreck] killed my front end,” Myers said. “The tow was knocked out and the front end was flopping around. The only way I could do anything was run my left front off the track to make the car turn. We were just wounded at that point.”
Myers did everything he could to play defense but several late-race restarts gradually shuffled him back in the field. He ultimately finished one position behind Brown in sixth, which was not enough to overcome the four-point deficit he carried entering the weekend.
Myers is confident that his program will be strong enough to contend for an 11th title next year, he does not intend to forget about Ward’s actions in the season finale and hopes that he uses better judgment in future events.
“People like Brandon Ward need to realize that this is not how you do things here,” Myers said. “Even though its kind of perceived that this is how people race over here, you have to be in contention at the end if you want to try and win a championship.”
While Myers does not envision any more conflicts with Ward going forward, he does not consider that a guarantee after observing his response to a spin on Saturday night.