Cooper Tires Zetec Championship - Season Finale
Entering the final two rounds of the Cooper Tires Zetec Championship at the famed Road America race track Jason Bowles knew he was going to need two respectable finishes to hold on to the Rookie of the Year championship and fourth overall in the points standings.
After completing Thursday and Fridays practice sessions, Jason was pleased with the car's speed. Through all of the practice sessions he was consistently in the top ten on the time charts and was getting better with each and every lap. Going into Fridays qualifying session Bowles was hoping to be able to place the car in the top five, to give him a good starting position for the first race of the weekend. At the end of qualifying Jason was able to put in a time fast enough for the seventh position. "I wanted to qualify a little bit better than that but unfortunately I was not able to find a good drafting partner on any of my fast laps and with the long straights here it can make a huge difference. The car seems to be fast and balanced, so I will be looking to move up in the race tomorrow" Jason said.
As the green flag waved, signaling the start of race one for the weekend, Jason was able to make up one position, moving up to the sixth position coming out of turn one. For the next two laps Jason maintained his position and was finally able to get by fifth going into turn one. Later on, during the same lap Jason and the sixth place car made slight contact causing the right rear shock to break on Jason's car. Once the shock broke there was not much Jason could do about the leaders. His only choice was to try and hold onto fifth. For the remainder of the race Jason was unchallenged for position. "It's real disappointing to have something like that happen. The car was really good in the opening laps but as soon as we touched I knew something was not right. We will get the car fixed and see if we can improve it for tomorrow."
For Sunday's second race, which was the final race of the season, Jason started from the sixth position, determined by having the sixth fastest time during the first race with a broken shock. At the start of Sunday's race Jason immediately moved into the fifth position with his sights set on the leaders. While going through turn 8 on the opening lap, Bowles used just a little more of the inside curb then he had ever previously and it left him with a bent left front toe link. With a now ill-handling car, Jason was once again left with the task of just trying to hold on. Although challenged frequently, Jason was able to stave off all who dared to take the fifth position. His fifth place finish earned Jason Bowles the Greg Moore Rookie of the Year title.
"I'm real happy that we won the Greg Moore Rookie of the Year title. It is quite an honor to be associated with such a great name. Greg was an awesome person and driver and it is privilege to have my name associated with his. I would have liked to have finished the year off a little bit better. The team did a great job all year and I have to give them a lot of credit because without them it would not have been possible. I would like to thank all of my sponsors City Wide Electronics, Service Software Systems, Sparco and Mboxdesign.com. Without them I would not be where I am today. I would also like to say a special thanks to Cooper Tires, Brad Baytos, and John Baytos. I really do appreciate everything that they have done for me."