Jonathan Brown scores first Hayes Jewelers 200 win

by Andy Marquis/Short Track Scene

6/5/2021 - Jonathan “JonBoy” Brown was not even sure if he would be able to compete in the first race at Bowman Gray in 658 days, but after a sleepless night, he picked up his 19 th career Bowman Gray Stadium victory on Saturday night in the biggest race of the season.

Brown, using the outside line, was able to get by 10-time track champion Tim Brown on a lap 138 restart and held him at bay on numerous restart attempts, then held off challenges from Danny Bohn during a series of late-race cautions to hold on for the win.  After the race, Brown was ecstatic about the victory.

“The 200 is the only race I hadn't won over here,” Brown said after the race.  “I told the guys this race means a lot to me.  I only wanted to do two things this year, win the 200-lapper and win the points championship.  That's the only two things we haven't won over here so this is definitely a great start for that.”

Brown called the win on Saturday night the biggest of his career – one that came with plenty of adversity prior to the green flag on Saturday.

“This is my home track,” Brown said.  “I won bigger races at bigger tracks but this is my home track, this is the biggest race of the season, and I'm going to say this is the biggest race of my career and it wasn't handed to me, I beat the best.  Tim Brown, the Myers Brothers, those guys are the best.  It was not handed to me.  We've worked our butts off on this car and, you know, this time yesterday, we were pulling an old engine out and putting a loaner engine in.  I didn't even know if we were going to make the race, and here we are, we've won the thing.”

Brown discovered an engine problem on his car and was able to get a loaner engine from Brody Jones, then worked through the day on Friday and Saturday hoping to arrive in peak performance mode.

“On Thursday, we found an engine problem,” Brown explained.  “We tried and tried to diagnose it.  I was on the phone with engine guys, I talked to four or five engine guys, even local racers.  At five o'clock on Friday morning, I was on the phone with Jeremy Gerstner because I know he's a true racer and he's seen everything.  We worked 45 straight hours.  I've slept 15 minutes in 45 hours so I'm pretty tired.  To come over here and win the biggest race of the season with literally no practice, an engine we don't know, a track we don't know, tires we don't know, we went back to our basics and it really paid off.”

Bowman Gray Stadium was closed down for the entirety of the 2020 season and part of the 2021 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.  In its grand reopening, and the first race at the legendary quarter-mile track that circles the football field at Winston-Salem State University, Bowman Gray welcomed a near-capacity crowd – a crowd Brown was happy to see but also tried not to pay attention to prior to the start of the Hayes Jewelers 200.

“I try not to look at the crowd before the race because it doesn't give you the jitters, it makes you think don't mess up, there's so many eyes looking at you,” Brown stated.  “I never thought about it.  But it is huge.  This is probably the biggest win of my career, absolutely, especially over here.  To tie my uncle Don [Smith], that's really cool.”

Danny Bohn wound up finishing second after running strong all race while James Civali, Chris Fleming, and Brandon Ward rounded out the top-five.

Pole sitter Burt Myers ended up finishing 11 th after struggling with power steering issues – the first time in his career that he did not win the Hayes Jewelers 200 from the pole.

Bowman Gray Season Opener Hayes Jewelers 200

FIN  CAR     DRIVER         

1.  #22      Jonathan Brown 

2. # 65      Danny Bohn     

3.  #79      James Civali  

4. # 16      Chris Fleming  

5. # 04      Brandon Ward   

6. # 17      John Smith     

7. #15      Brian Loftin   

8. #69      John Holleman  

9.  #83      Tim Brown     

10. #4       Jason Myers  

11. #1       Burt Myers     

12. #31      Zach Brewer    

13. #8       Darin Redmon   

14. #3       Danny Propst   

15. #44      Daniel Beeson  

16. #55      Jeremy Gerstner

17. #6       Chris Williams 

18. #75      Lee Jeffreys   

19.# 40      Frank Fleming  

20.# 5       Randy Butner   

21.# 45      Lee Stimpson   

22. #07      Dennis Holdren 

23. #53      Andy Jankowiak 

24.#51      Drew Moffitt   

25. #77      Susan Harwell