USAR: Lakeland II: Wayne Willard race report

Willard grabs Miller Lite Rookie of the Race Award Buford, GA-If you follow late model racing then you know the paint scheme that Wayne Willard and the Bowen Family Homes Race team unveiled for the Naturally Fresh 250 this weekend at the USA ...

Willard grabs Miller Lite Rookie of the Race Award

Buford, GA-If you follow late model racing then you know the paint scheme that Wayne Willard and the Bowen Family Homes Race team unveiled for the Naturally Fresh 250 this weekend at the USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Fla., spelled trouble for the rest of the field.

The black paint scheme has been used several times by Willard and team on late model series cars. Every time it has brought them good luck.

"We wanted to show everyone with the black car that things have changed with our team. We have a new focus and drive." said driver Wayne Willard.

Qualification was canceled due to rain and the field started by points. Willard in the No. 01s Bowen Family Homes, Bill Heard Chevrolet started 18th.

"We have struggled in our qualification efforts this year and I was really looking forward to qualifying on time here. We were going to be fast," said Willard.

Quickly after the start of the race, the reputation of the black-paint scheme showed to be very intimidating. Willard moved up through the field to the 11th position.

The Bowen Family Homes pit crew proved to be very intimidating as well. Willard came in the 11th place and came out in fifth place. The crew picked up six spots in the pits.

"My crew really helped me out. I wanted to get a cold wet rag to help cool off but before I could wipe my face I felt the jack drop and it was time to go," said Willard.

On Lap 208 all that went south when Willard spun avoiding the No. 38 car of Shane Wallace. Willard restarted in the back of the field.

Ten laps later, Willard was spun by the No. 25 car of Billy Bigley Jr. Both times Willard was able to continue on with little damage.

With 40 laps to go, Willard showed again how strong his new black car really was. He aggressively came back though the field to an impressive, sixth-place finish, grabbing the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race Award. This was a career-high finish for Willard and crew in the Pro Cup Series.

"This race was a turning point for our program." said Willard from his back in the lounge of the transporter after being struck down by heat exhaustion. "It was a hot long race and stressed my body badly but I wanted show everyone what me and my crew are really capable of doing."

The Bowen Family Homes Team heads to Myrtle Beach Speedway in Myrtle Beach, SC on June 25, 2005 for the Naturally Fresh 250 Presented by Black's Tire Service.

All the racing action from this weekends Hooters Pro Cup Series race in Lakeland, Fla., can be seen on the SPEED Channel on Saturday, June 11 at 10 p.m. ET.

-bfhr-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Billy Bigley