Little caps Bowman Gray fun with championship celebration

Aug. 26, 2013 @ 11:56 PM

Mack Little didn’t start out the season at Bowman Gray Stadium with winning a championship on his mind.

“We just wanted to go over there and have some fun this year,” Little said by telephone Monday.

When the quarter-mile track ran down the curtain on its 65th Saturday, Little wound up more having fun than anybody else in the Sportsman class as he came away with that division’s points championship.

“When we got into the point lead, we still said we were going to have fun and however things fell, they fell,” said Little, a Kernersville resident who works for the city of High Point’s utilities department.

Things almost fall the right way after Little went into Saturday night’s feature with a lead so healthy that he needed to just finish within 11 positions of second-place Zack Clifton to win the championship.

The margin of error evaporated when Little was forced to pit for replacement of a flat tire with 10 laps to go and dropped from sixth to 16th. But he picked up a couple of spots when he elected to line up for a green-flag restart in the outside line when some others didn’t, and then made enough passes to finish 10th and seven spots behind Clifton. That gave Little the championship by 16 points.

“When I got that flat tire was the first time that I got nervous that I might not win it, even though I started 23rd,” Little said. “That didn’t worry me much because I think I drew within five positions of Zack. But, when I got that flat tire, I thought I had lost it. But my crew did a great job to get me back out in time and than I was able drive up through there to pick up enough positions.”

The championship was the 10th of Little’s short-track career, which began in 1996. It was his third at Bowman Gray, where he had not competed since winning the Sportsman championship in 2000, and came on the heels of winning the Late Model track championship last season at Caraway Speedway.

“Both of those championships mean a lot to me,” Little said. “I wouldn’t say that one means more than the o†her.”

Little decided to return to Bowman Gray because racing in the Sportsman division is cheaper.

“We were just trying to be a little more frugal,” Little said. “Running in the Sportsman division, you don’t have to spend $600 on a new set of tires each week. I mean, you could run old tires in Late Model, but you really can’t if you want to keep up. I think this year, we’ve used three sets of tires for 20 races because they just don’t wear.”

Little will return to Caraway over the next four weeks as he competes in the Limited Late Model division, trying to win NASCAR’s national short-track championship for drivers in support divisions.

“They take your best 14 finishes and the guy leading has won like 12 races,” said Little, who has two wins. “We got hurt a little bit by the rain outs at Bowman Gray and have only 20 starts and the other guy has like 28. But if we go to Caraway and win some races maybe we can make it close.”

That might be the last championship that he intends to pursue.

“This might be the last year that we run somewhere for points,” Little said. “I’ve done it an awful lot. But I don’t know. We’ll get the cars ready next spring and decide what we want to do.”