South Boston Champion Bowling Honored Before Cup Race at Martinsville
SOUTH BOSTON, Va. (November 1, 2016) – Matt Bowling is accustomed to the spotlight, but the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion was in a bit bigger spotlight than usual Sunday afternoon.
Bowling grew up a stone’s throw from Martinsville Speedway and still lives close by. Sunday afternoon the track honored him for his accomplishments this season by making him a part of prerace activities prior to the Goody’s Fast Relief 500.
Bowling was included in prerace introductions on the start-finish line, was introduced in the drivers’ meeting and hung out with media and drivers in the Infield Media Center Sunday morning.
The 22-year-old Bowling, who recently captured his third South Boston Speedway Late Model Stock track championship on the way to the national title, also gave pace car rides to fans around the half-mile oval early Sunday morning.
“It was pretty cool to see that view of the sport,” Bowling said of his day at the track. “It’s definitely my goal to get there (as a competitor). It’s a long road ahead, but it can happen.”
Bowling’s day at the track started early when he gave pace car rides to excited race fans. He said if the race fans were disappointed that he wasn’t a Cup driver, they didn’t show it.
“It was a good time giving the pace car rides. We probably did five or six different groups,” said Bowling, who won eight times at South Boston this year and had 14 total victories while making starts at eight tracks in four states. He wound up with 35 top-five and 42 top-10 finishes.
“It seemed like people knew who I was, especially after I started talking with them.”
Bowling joined a small group of dignitaries who were introduced at the drivers’ meeting held two hours prior to the race. It was a chance for him to get face time in front of all the Cup drivers along with exposure to NASCAR’s top officials and executives.
“That was pretty cool,” Bowling said of his time on the prerace stage. “I really hadn’t met any of the drivers, so that was fun.”
“He told me he kept up with Late Model racing. He knew all about what we’d done this season,” said Bowling.