WINSTON-SALEM, NC – James Civali rebounded from early handling issues and a mid-race spin to finish third in Saturday night’s Hayes Jewelers 200 at Bowman Gray Stadium – a performance that helped boost his quest for a track championship.
Civali’s roller coaster race started out from the ninth position. Early on, he made quick progress as he raced his way to the fourth position. When a caution came out on the 29th lap of the 200 lap race, Civali decided to pit for a track bar adjustment to tighten the car up. After that, Civali began to make progress through the field with a lot of hustle and a little muscle before a spin on lap 132 sent him to the back once more.
“The car was way too free,” Civali told Short Track Scene after the race. “It was just one of those things. We haven’t raced here all year. First race of the year and we just kind of didn’t know what was going to happen after we got 30 laps into the race and just too free, so we had to make some adjustments.”
With nothing left of his front bumper, Civali took advantage of strategy and hit his marks on restarts to race his way to a podium finish.
“This race is really tough because everybody knows they can put tires on, so it’s a race to run good and a strategy of when to put tires on,” Civali said. “We were good. When you put tires on any time in the race, you have to do what you can, fill holes, make things happen on restarts and basically, lane choice. Make the right moves at the right time. It’s hard to do that but you have to fill those gaps and make sure you get all you can.”
Civali described his night as “wild.”
“I’m pretty confident here racing top of bottom,” Civali continued. “I’ve got some experience here knowing how to navigate restarts and the top and the bottom and how to get runs the right way. Pitting early didn’t bother me. I said I was going to get back to the front and it’s not going to worry me at all. We pitted, tightened the car up, because we started the race a little too free, and made some strategy. Pit early in the race so, when we did change tires halfway in the race, we were closer. It worked out for us.”
While Civali always has winning on his mind, he was satisfied at the end of the night with a third place finish after his eventful race.
“It’s a long season and we are here for points also,” Civali noted. “We want to win some races. Third place in a race like this and our heavy competitors finished behind us, so we’re happy about that.”
Known for his aggressive driving, Civali has adopted the nickname “The One Man Taliban” throughout the years. He said that nickname was bestowed upon him while racing up north in his younger days.
“The nickname came from an old racer up north who was commenting on how aggressive I was,” Civali explained. “It was one of those things where he was like, you just never know when he’s going to pull the pin and make a really aggressive move and he said it’s surprising and like the Taliban, super surprising. It’s a weird name but it kind of fit. We don’t really promote it that much, but it’s on the car, and we try to make things exciting.”
Civali is also a regular in the SMART Modified Tour and prefers traveling to running one single track, but he does love racing at Bowman Gray Stadium. When the SMART Modified Tour recommences over the summer, Civali plans to continue competing in the series.
“I love racing and going to different tracks and making it exciting.”
Jonathan “JonBoy” Brown won Saturday night’s Hayes Jewelers 200 at Bowman Gray Stadium – the first race held at the legendary track in North Carolina since August 2019.