Bowles Finishes Third at Mosport for Gaunt Brothers Racing Bowmanville, Ont (June 13, 2010) The Gaunt Brothers Racing team posted its second consecutive top-5 finish in NASCAR Canadian Tire Series competition Sunday. Driver Jason Bowles carved...
Bowles Finishes Third at Mosport for Gaunt Brothers Racing
Bowmanville, Ont (June 13, 2010) The Gaunt Brothers Racing team posted its second consecutive top-5 finish in NASCAR Canadian Tire Series competition Sunday. Driver Jason Bowles carved up the Mosport International Speedway road course to bring home the Triad Racing Technologies racecar in third-place.
Bowles, brought in to drive the road course events for GBR, was making his first start in the NCATS series. Faced with tough competition on a track widely considered one of the most challenging in the series, Bowles had to be a quick study in getting up to speed.
Despite a damp, wet Saturday morning, both practice sessions were completed in their entirety. Bowles was trying to run as many laps as possible to get a handle on the 2.5 mile course that has more twists, turns and elevation changes than a roller coaster at your local amusement park.
"The biggest thing I have to get used to here is the brakes. Compared to what we run in the West Series they are really small," Bowles said between practices as he assessed areas to improve lap times. "You're going pretty fast by the end of the back straight and I just need to find the confidence that this thing is going to slow down for the right-hander at the end of it."
Rains then washed out qualifying that afternoon, pushing the session to Sunday morning. Bowles, quick enough in practice to run in the fast group for time trials, put the No.11 GBR machine in the field 11th.
All said and done, Bowles had just 20 laps under his belt heading in to the main event.
Knowing track position and strategy was key to Sunday's race, GBR planned to pit early, as soon as their fuel window opened up. Bowles maintained his position through the first dozen laps of the race then ducked onto pit lane as the field passed the stripe for lap 13. The GBR crew topped off the car with fuel and sent Bowles back into the action.
Four laps later the caution flag flew and the rest of the field trickled in for pit stops, putting Bowles out front for a lap 19 restart. When the green flag fell, Bowles took off and put twenty car lengths between himself and the rest of the field. Hard chargers JR Fitzpatrick and Andrew Ranger were lined up a few positions back in the top ten and would have to fight through the cars ahead to get to Bowles.
Fitzpatrick, the eventual winner, spent seven laps trying to gain on the Triad machine before making a pass for the lead on the long back straight. Once by, however, he could not shake Bowles and the two resumed their dog fight with the first two positions switched. They ran essentially nose to tail for the next 15 laps stretching out a five second lead on third place Andrew Ranger.
By lap 42, Bowles was having trouble keeping rear tires planted exiting the corners and radioed in that he was losing forward bite. Fitzpatrick had taken tires during the caution and was beginning to stretch out a lead as a result. Ranger, on fresher tires as well, was coming into the picture behind the No.11 car and beginning to apply pressure. On lap 47 Bowles decided to let Ranger by, knowing he couldn't hold him off with the older rubber. The cushion back to fourth place Scott Steckly was big enough for Bowles not to overdrive and safely bring home a podium finish at the checkers.
"That was a really good day for us out here," said Bowles following his third-place run at Mosport. "The guys did a really great job setting this car up and making changes. We literally just got this car finished on Wednesday and our only test was driving up and down the street in Mooresville (North Carolina).
"We were struggling a little bit yesterday to find speed, but a lot of that was me just not having any laps around here. I learned more in the race about how to get around here and once we were out front and running with Fitzpatrick it all came together. This is a great track, a lot of fun to drive and the car was really good - we didn't have one problem with it all weekend.
"Pre-race we discussed our pit strategy and it played out really well to get us some track position. We didn't take tires, but the sun hurt us more than anything there when I was losing forward bite. I was hoping for a late race caution to cool the tires down and give us a shot at JR there in the end, but we'll take third, it's a good result for us.
With a few weeks between events now, the NCATS Series switches back to the ovals and moves to the Quebec province and the Autodrome St. Eustache event outside Montreal.
"We've got some time and some things to do before I get in the car again at Toronto to make it better," said Bowles. "I'm excited about street racing in this series. For now though, I'll turn the car over to John for the next race and see if he can't keep pushing the team and our results up the ladder."
GBR's third place finish at Mosport puts the No.11 team third overall in owners points behind Fitzpatrick's No.84 and DJ Kennington's No.17.