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9.27.16

Bowling’s Season Opener Wins At South Boston Speedway Set The Pace For 2016 National Championship

SOUTH BOSTON, Va. (September 28, 2016) – Matt Bowling didn’t realize it at the time, but his chase for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship began way back in March, on opening day at South Boston Speedway.

“We didn’t really set out to do all of this,” the newly crowned national champion said. “We just kind of planned on running 15 or 16 races and travel around and hit the bigger races.”

But then he swept both ends of South Boston’s season-opening doubleheader.

“We started off good at South Boston and we kept going from there,” said the 22-year-old Bowling who captured his second straight, and third career South Boston track championship title.

“Those two wins the first day went along way to this championship. By the first of May we had four wins (at South Boston) and we just kept going from there.”

When the first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national points standings were released in late May, he was in the top spot with a 19-point lead. He never relented, leading the rest of the season, even though his lead was cut to a single point in early September. He wound up with a six-point margin over northern Modified ace and former national champion Keith Rocco.

Bowling’s original plan for a 15 or 16-race schedule exploded as the season passed. His final start at South Boston on September 17 was his 49th of the year, more than any other driver in the 500 listed in the final national standings. Rocco made 44 starts; no one else had more than 37.

To manage that lofty number, Bowling and his Hopkins Lumber team became racing nomads, making starts at eight different race tracks in four states.

Along the way he picked up eight wins at South Boston and 14 total victories. He recorded 35 top-five and 42 top-10 finishes.

“It was hard to figure out where to race. You have to go where the car count was the best every week,” said Bowling. “Fortunately every week there was a good option for us.”

Bowling experienced an early-summer slump, going winless for almost a month, but he and his crew kept pushing forward.

“We went most of June and the first part of July without a win. That kind of got us behind and let those guys catch up. That didn’t help things,” said Bowling. “By the middle of July we got back on track and finished the year out strong. We had a win about every week after that.”

Did he ever think about backing off and returning to a normal schedule?

“We were definitely in too far to stop at any point. We decided to do whatever it takes to win this thing.”

It was by far the most demanding schedule in Bowling’s career, making starts at tracks where he had little or no experience. The secret to success at these new tracks, he said, was his home track.

“Racing at South Boston all the time definitely helps out when you go track-to-track. I feel like the competition level at South Boston is so good … you know what it takes to win everywhere. If your car is good enough to win there, you’re in good shape everywhere you go,” said Bowling, who gets support from Hopkins Lumber, Bill Lemons, Clearway Logistics, Bandit Chippers, Hedgecock Racing, Billy Banks Racing Engines and Bowling Logging.

After his track-to-track travels this summer, he says the historic Southern Virginia track remains his favorite.

“We have more laps there than anywhere. We definitely felt more at home there. It’s comfortable,” said Bowling.

Bowling’s father and car owner Tim and his mom Diana were along for every mile of the journey as was fiancée Lauren Whapham. Bowling works full time in his father’s logging business, but fortunately his dad gave him some work-schedule leeway as the season drew to a close.

“I worked my job all summer. Sometimes I worked two or three days for my dad and went to the shop at the end of the week. Sometimes it was a half-day for my dad. The last two weeks we were traveling so much, I didn’t do any work with him.”

When not at work for Bowling Logging, he could be found at Sellers Racing in Danville where his cars are maintained and prepared. Bowling praises the Sellers’ operation, headed by H.C. Sellers and former national champion Peyton Sellers, for their contribution to the season’s success.

“Sellers Racing definitely deserves a lot of credit. They have the experience of going after a national championship,” said Bowling. “H.C. and all of the guys at Sellers Racing did an amazing job.”

Bowling slipped away for a short vacation late last week, but will be at work for his father this week. He’s got a couple of more big races this fall, and of course, all of the obligations and celebrations that go with being a national champion.

And he will surely find time to savor his accomplishment.

“It’s all starting to sink in,” Bowling said on the way back from his vacation. “It’s certainly a huge deal. There are a lot of great drivers who have won this. It’s cool to be part of it.”

Media Contacts:
Mike Smith
Relevant Public Relations
423.914.3009
msmith@southbostonspeedway
msmith@prrelevant.com

 

 


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