Dad, son duel for Pro 4 Oval Asphalt championship

Lebanon racer Corey Rowland is chasing his father Rick for a series championship.

The inaugural Pro 4 Oval Asphalt Series championship has come down to a father-son battle between two Lebanon racers.

Rick Rowland is leading the standings, and son Corey is chasing him in second place.

"Unless something crazy happens, my dad is going to win it," says Corey, 26, a graduate of Wilson Central High and Georgia Tech. "About all he has to do start the last three races and he's got the championship."

He adds: "I hate to lose it, but if I have to, I'm glad I'm losing it to him."

The Pro 4 Series matches drivers from Tennessee and Kentucky in 12 races -- six at Highland Rim and six at Owensboro, Ky.

Of the nine run so far, the Rowlands have won five. Corey won two at the Rim and one at Owensboro, and Rick captured two at Owensboro.

"In two of my wins, my dad finished second," Corey says, "and in his two wins, I finished second. We've had some good battles and swapped some paint."

Rick for years was a noted area driver, and his son inherited that knack for the track. Corey started racing karts and quickly moved up to stock cars.

Rick's wife Tammy also is a racer, winning Rookie of the Year last year in Fairgrounds Speedway's Pro Mod division -- one of very few women drivers to win a rookie award in the track's 60-year history. Corey also won Rookie of the Year in 2017 -- the only son-daughter rookie award winners.

Who does Tammy root for this season -- husband or son?

"She tries to stay as neutral as possible," Corey says with a chuckle.

"We're having a lot of fun racing against each other, but we take the competition seriously," he says. "We're both racers and we both want to win."

Corey ran a few races at Nashville last season, but his biggest success came at Owensboro where he captured three heat races and won four straight Pro Mod features.

The Owensboro track, officially known as Kentucky Motor Speedway, was the career launching pad for several Kentucky natives who went on to NASCAR stardom, including Darrell and Michael Waltrip, Jeremy Mayfield and Jeff and David Green.

"It's a great track with a lot of tradition," Corey says. "I enjoy racing there."

Corey was almost literally born at a race track; he arrived a couple of days after his parents returned home from a race.

After high school Corey was awarded a scholarship to Georgia Tech by Thompson Machinery, with an agreement to work for the company for a specified time after graduating.

The family's racing shop, Rowland Motorsports, is located near the Wilson County Fairgrounds where their fleet of cars is prepared and housed.

The final race of the Pro 4 Series will be run Oct. 5 at Highland Rim. The event has been designed Down Syndrome Awareness Night by track owner Jerry Criswell, to call attention to the devastating affliction.

"I have a friend who has a child that is affected by Down Syndrome," Corey says, "so it's especially meaningful for me. Hopefully I'll get to see my dad receive his championship trophy on a night that's special for a lot of kids."

Larry Woody is The Democrat's motorsports writer. Email him at larrywoody@gmail.com.

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