BOWLES RUNS WIRE-TO-WIRE TO TAKE WIN AND SWEEP AT TOYOTA SPEEDWAY AT IRWINDALE IRWINDALE, Calif. (Aug. 16, 2008) - Jason Bowles led wire-to-wire to take the win in the Pipe Careers 200 presented by Pipe Trades at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale...
BOWLES RUNS WIRE-TO-WIRE TO TAKE WIN AND SWEEP AT TOYOTA SPEEDWAY AT IRWINDALE
IRWINDALE, Calif. (Aug. 16, 2008) - Jason Bowles led wire-to-wire to take the win in the Pipe Careers 200 presented by Pipe Trades at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale on Saturday night, giving him a sweep of both NASCAR Camping World Series West events at his home track this season.
His earlier victory there on the Fourth of July marked his first win on an oval track. In his latest win, however, it looked like he owned the track - where the 25-year-old had raced in the Late Model class in 2006 as he made the transition from the open-wheel ranks.
"I was pretty amazed that we led every lap," said Bowles of nearby Ontario. "I didn't expect that to happen at all. I thought for sure the (Car No.) 21 (David Mayhew) was going to be good. I wasn't sure who else was going to be able to challenge me, but he was my biggest competitor last time we were here. Once I saw him in my mirror, I thought he might give me a run. But he never really put any pressure on me. We had a car that was just great all night."
The car was a dream to drive, Bowles said of the Sunrise Ford-sponsored entry of car owner Bob Bruncati. "I couldn't drive it wrong," he said. "It kind of drove itself. It was easy to drive all night. The car was perfect. There was nothing better that I could have asked for."
The early laps of the event were similar to the last visit by the series to Toyota Speedway - with Bowles and Mayhew leading the way. But unlike that event six weeks before, when Mayhew moved by to lead much of the first half of the race, Bowles never relinquished the top spot this time around. The only time he appeared threatened was as he worked lapped traffic. Mayhew and Chris Johnson were each able to close in on the leader, but Bowles would quickly pull away as he cleared traffic.
"We were a bit free in the first half and I was just having trouble getting up off (the corners)," Bowles said. "I just couldn't get by the lapped traffic as quick as I wanted, but we tightened it up for the second half and I didn't seem to have any problems with them."
Mayhew and Johnson each had their own problems to contend with, meanwhile. After Johnson's car suffered a flat tire and contacted the wall in the first half, he battled back to finish seventh. And Mayhew could only manage a fifth-place finish after contact with another car led to a spin on lap 166.
Despite such a good car, Bowles was not without concern about getting his third win of the year and the fifth of his career. "I thought I had a flat tire about four times and the brakes were getting pretty bad there at the end," he said. "I was just trying to take it as easy as I could. They were telling me what kind of gap I had."
Bowles crossed the line with a margin of victory of .674 seconds, with a race record speed of 76.255 mph. With the victory, he captured $8,550 in prize money and posted awards. Those awards included his fourth Coors Light Pole Award of the season, won with a 96.701 mph qualifying lap around the half-mile track.
Bowles attributes some of his success this year to his added experience, while giving much of the credit for improvement to his team. "This is my second year in the series, so I've got a little more experience on all the tracks and a new crew chief, Bill Sedgwick," Bowles said. "You couldn't ask for anything better. I wish I could have started with him about this point last year. My crew has been working hard. We've got better cars this year and better motors. Everything is just better all the way around, so we've just got a better package."
Rookies took the second and third spots in the race - with Jeff Barkshire of Auburn, Wash., charging to a runner-up finish in the Centennial Batteries/SPE Dodge and Jason Patison of nearby Corona driving the Jasper Engines/Lucas Oil Ford to a career-best third-place finish on his home track. They were followed by Brett Thompson of Jerome, Idaho, in the Banner Bank/Pets Best Insurance Chevrolet and Mayhew of Atascadero, Calif., in the BayBioDiesel/Salad Caps/RCR Chevrolet. Making a blistering charge from the rear of the pack in the final 30 laps to finish sixth was Johnny Borneman. He was followed by Chris Johnson, Eric Holmes, Moses Smith and Andrew Myers.
The pace of the event was slowed by four cautions for 21 laps.
The victory by Bowles moved him to within nine points of the lead in the championship standings. He trails Holmes 1,763 to 1,754, with two races left to decide this year's championship. Barkshire is third with 1,672, followed by Mike David with 1,632 and Jim Inglebright with 1,588. Sixth through 10th in the standings are Smith at 1,528, Austin Cameron at 1,510, Borneman at 1,440, Mayhew at 1,416 and Jim Warn at 1,382.
Barkshire continues to lead the chase for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. He tops the first-year driver charts with 104 points, followed by Warn with 93, Patison with 88 and Jamie Dick with 83. They are trailed by Wes Banks at 39, Lloyd Mack at 22 and Ryan Philpott at 15.
The next event on the schedule for the NASCAR Camping World Series West is the Altamont 200 at Altamont Raceway Park near Tracy, Calif., on Sept. 13.