BROWN BREAKS BG
STADIUM QUALIFYING MARK
Lap of 12.966
seconds has him on pole for season-opening Tucson
Tim Brown became the first driver in Bowman Gray Stadium history to turn
a qualifying lap of less than 13 seconds yesterday.
Brown broke the track record, which he set in 2003, with a
lap of 12.966 seconds (69.4 mph) on the quarter-mile track and wrapped
up the pole position for tonight's season-opening Tucson 200.
Burt Myers, who won last year's Tucson 200 and went on to a
season championship, registered a lap of 13.061 seconds — which was also
faster than the previous record of 13.069. He will start on the outside
of the front row for tonight's 200-lap race.
The previous record was set on a newly paved track.
Yesterday's record was as result of tires with a softer compound that
drivers in the featured Modified Division will use. "We knew they were
going to be good," Brown said of the softer tires, which provide better
traction. "We mocked up a qualifying run about 30 minutes before the
real thing and ran a (13.02) and I was like, man, these have a lot of
The new softer tire is faster, as expected. The unanswered
question is if they'll hold up for 200 laps. "There's still some concern
but everybody's on the same tire," said Brown, a six-time stadium
champion. "If my tires burn off then the next man's tires are going to
burn off. Then it will be a pit-stop battle. But the things are fun to
drive with this much grip, I'm telling you…. You can throw it in the
corner as much as your nerve will let you."
Brown said that if he had the tires five years ago on fresh pavement he
no doubt would have turned a lap with a speed of better than 70 mph,
which is an impressive mark on a track with short straightaways and
Junior Miller said before qualifying yesterday that a new
record might be set. He was one of a few drivers that had practiced on
the new tires and said that he was turning laps about a half-second
faster than on last year's tires. "They don't seem that much softer but
they feel a lot better," Miller said.
Randy Butner said of the tires: "They're just a little
softer, but not that much softer. Times will be a little faster in
qualifying and the race pace might be a little faster. The tire
definitely has more grip but I don't think they're so soft to where
you'll see tire issues like blistering or coming apart. I believe it
will be a good tire to race on." Myers said that tonight's race will
answer the question of durability.
"So far they seem to be holding up pretty good but nobody's
going to know until we get some heat in them for a longer period of
time," he said.
Pit stops for fresh tires could be in store for the first
time in several years. "We'll probably have to pit," Myers said, but
added that was based on guesswork only. "I learned a long time ago
racing at Bowman Gray Stadium that you can't make plans." Butner said:
"If a man has a chassis setup that's hurting the tires, he's going to
have to stop. If you stop, you're going to give up very valuable track
position. So unless your car's just not working, I'm not sure anybody
will stop." Brown said that his team will practice pit stops this
morning, just in case.
"They'll dust off the guns and the kneepads and play around a
little while," Brown said. "The fans may like it because you put (fresh)
tires on a car and go through the field but the problem is our guys
don't do this for a living. They're not trained professionals as far as
changing tires (in pit-stop conditions)."
Brown said tonight's race on the new tires will be a "crap
shoot" considering that it's the first race on the tires and it comes in
the longest race of the season and that the driver who best manages tire
wear will be the man to beat. Myers said the softer tires will probably
be ideal for 25-lap races, which are run frequently during the course of
Beginning this season in all divisions, the green flag for
double-file starts will be given when the front row of cars exit the
final turn approaching the front stretch. In the past, the starting line
was located between the third and fourth turns. The idea behind the
change is to lessen the disadvantage of the outside pole sitter.
"It's now going to be a drag race into turn one," said Gray
Garrison, the promoter of Bowman Gray Stadium racing."