Defending National Champion Matt Bowling Wins Sparks Oil Company Pole Award

Matt Bowling working on the car during afternoon practice at South Boston Speedway in preparation for the Thunder Road Harley Davidson 200. (Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com)

South Boston, VA – The time has come for some of the best Late Model Stock Car teams to converge on the historic South Boston Speedway for the annual Thunder Road Harley Davidson 200. With $6500 up for grabs, twenty-five cars have unloaded here at the freshly paved 4/10-mile oval.

One of those drivers is none other that defending track and national champion, Matt Bowling. After running a total of forty-nine races in the 2016 season in route to his first NWAAS national title, Bowling has taken most of this season off. However, when you show drivers a chance to win that much money, they tend to make the trip out. Not to mention it is the opening round of the 2017 VA Triple Crown series.

Bowling was in the final group of drivers to hit the speedway for their five-lap group qualifying session. With a decent amount of cloud cover over the speedway, Bowling was able to lay down a 14.889 (96.716 MPH) on his first lap on the timer. For his efforts in group qualifying, Bowling picked up the $1,000 bonus provided by Sparks Oil Company. Trevor Ward, Peyton Sellers, Bobby McCarty and Danny Willis were the four other drivers to post times fast enough to earn them a starting position within the top five.

We caught up with Matt after qualifying was complete and he had a moment to debrief with the crew.

“In practice, we fought tight in a lot,” Bowling mentioned when asked about his car. “We made some adjustments to free it up for qualifying and it was really good, we were right where we needed to be. We will try and tighten it back up there just to get it to last, hopefully, we can get some good luck and be there at the end.”

Over the off-season, the historic South Boston Speedway went through a massive, one million dollars plus facelift. A new track surface was just one of the things on the items on the action items list. Bowling’s most recent championship and notebook came from countless laps on the older worn out surface, we asked the driver of the #83 Hopkins Lumber machine if that changed much of his line.

“The grooves a little different,” Bowling told The Weekly Racer. “Kind of a little bit more up the track. Just a ton of grip and you can just go where you want to go. It’s just faster.”

With twenty-five cars set to go to battle for 200-laps, we have all seen fast cars get caught up in a lot of mess. Bowling told us he is just going to work on keeping the nose clean for the first half of the race and see what’s there to race with everyone in the second half.

Mike Jones posted a blistering lap down in the low fifteens – 15.304 – to claim the pole for the Limited Sportsman 100-lap feature. He will lead Collin Garrett, Trey Crews, Barry Beggarly, Jr., and Brandon Jones to the green. Racing is set to get under way at 7:00 PM with a 20-lap Hornet feature. We will pick up the action when the Sportsman division takes the green.

 

Thunder Road Harley Davidson 200 Starting Line-up

1 83 Matt Bowling 14.889
2 77 Trevor Ward 14.922
3 26 Peyton Sellers 14.936
4 22 Bobby McCarty 15.013
5 23 Danny Willis Jr 15.098
6 17 Stacy Puryear 15.110
7 2 Brandon Pierce 15.134
8 01 Phillip Morris 15.154
9 03 Brenden Queen 15.159
10 14 Ryan Repko 15.165
11 5 Lee Pulliam 15.188
12 91 Justin Carroll 15.220
13 12 Nick Smith 15.240
14 19 Cameron Bowen 15.309
15 12 Austin Thaxton 15.314
16 8 Thomas Scott 15.327
17 16 RD Smith 15.392
18 29 Stuart Crews 15.423
19 28 Jason Barnes 15.443
20 07 Dean Ward 15.444
21 90 Terry Carroll 15.483
22 57 Eddie Johnson 15.486
23 55 Mark Wertz 15.505
24 75 Nathan Crews 15.510
25 22 Eric Winslow 15.522
26 12 Timothy Peters DNQ

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