Meet the Drivers
Age: 58 Wins at Bowman Gray: 69
Occupation: Roofing, flipping doublewide trailers, owner of the diner JR's Pit-Stop
Major rival: Burt Myers
Crew Chief: Eric Stigall
Car owner: Melvin "Puddin" Swisher
The eighth of 11 children, Junior grew up in Ashe County, North Carolina, where his chicken and cattle farmer father taught him the value of money and hard work. He has embraced this entrepreneurial spirit throughout this life, opening his own roofing business and turning extra profit by flipping homes. Indeed, some speculate he's worth several million dollars.
Junior's no-holds-barred attitude makes him one of the most controversial - and most fascinating - figures at Bowman Gray Stadium. Love him or hate him, you can't help but marvel at his audacious maneuvers, hard-nosed tactics and incendiary remarks; he reportedly once said he'd "spin his grandmother out in a wheelchair for five thousand dollars."
A dominant force in the Modified division throughout the early 1990s, Junior was at one time suspected of paying off drivers to run interference for him and of driving an illegal car. He also built a reputation for fighting, cursing and wrecking just about anybody who stood in his way. Often, the roadblock has been Burt Meyers, a popular young driver at the peak of his career who once sold insulting anti-Junior posters to stadium patrons.
Bowman Gray's 58-year-old loose cannon has mellowed a bit since 2002, the year he found religion, married a longtime fan and opened a diner. He started reining in his characteristic foul language and wearing his Sunday finery to drivers' meetings. When asked to comment on Burt Myers's verbal assaults against him, Junior said simply, "I'll pray for him tomorrow."
Sheep's clothing and two hip replacements notwithstanding, Junior still drives like a wolf out for blood, especially since teaming up with Melvin "Puddin" Swisher, a similarly ruthless owner. Junior's advantage over many of his younger competitors is that he'll stop at nothing to snag the checkered flag. After all, they don't call him the Raging Bull of Bowman Gray for nothing.
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