HARRAKA WINS AT ROSEVILLE, WHILE BOWLES TAKES TITLE IN NASCAR CAMPING WORLD SERIES WEST ROSEVILLE, Calif. (Sept. 26, 2009) -- Paulie Harraka and Jason Bowles came away as winners in the final race of the NASCAR Camping World Series West...
HARRAKA WINS AT ROSEVILLE, WHILE BOWLES TAKES TITLE IN NASCAR CAMPING WORLD SERIES WEST
ROSEVILLE, Calif. (Sept. 26, 2009) -- Paulie Harraka and Jason Bowles came away as winners in the final race of the NASCAR Camping World Series West season at All American Speedway on Saturday night. Harraka, a series rookie, led 149 of 150 laps en route to winning the Toyota/Copart 150 -- while Bowles came away with a fourth-place finish to clinch the 2009 series championship.
Bowles needed only to finish 16th or better to wrap up the title for himself and car owner Bob Bruncati. Eric Holmes, who posed the only championship threat to Bowles coming into the event, was involved in an early incident and was never a factor.
Bowles dodged that same incident that involved Holmes on Lap 5, nearly coming to a stop and swerving wide around the spinning cars. Although he avoided contact, it left Bowles outside of the top 10 and battling heavy traffic.
"There were a few wrecks right there that I didn't want to see happen, because they were all right in front of me it seemed," said the 26-year-old competitor from Ontario, Calif. "I was really watching in front of me tonight, trying to keep my nose clean and be real, real careful."
Bowles said he was confident, meanwhile, knowing that calling the shots was crew chief Bill Sedgwick -- who has plenty of NASCAR championship experience. Sedgwick won two series titles as a driver and two more as a crew chief.
"He wouldn't let me race there for a while," Bowles said of Sedgwick. "He had the reins pulled pretty tight, so we didn't get in any trouble -- but it was good. He does have that experience and that's what was able to get us here."
The championship was the goal from the start of the season, Bowles said of the team for the No. 6 Sunrise Ford.com Ford. "We did what we set out to do at the beginning of the year," he said. "We were just focused on the championship all year. We won some races during the year and came here with a comfortable lead. We did what we had to do."
Bowles was in his third full season in the NASCAR Camping World Series West. He finished third in points and won the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in 2007, and was runner-up to Holmes last year.
While Bowles was focused on the championship, Harraka was intent on notching his second career win while enjoying a return to the third-mile facility where he won a track championship in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model division a year ago.
After winning the pole in qualifying, Harraka dashed into the lead at the drop of the green flag. His biggest threat all race came from another local favorite, Eric Schmidt, who also holds claim to a late model championship at the Roseville track. Schmidt moved from eighth on the grid to second in the first 60 laps. He mounted several challenges, edging out front on one restart; but could not keep pace in the closing laps as Harraka pulled away to a winning margin of 2.774 seconds.
Harraka credited the win to a fast car and hard work by his team, headed by crew chief Duane Knorr. "The NAPA AutoCare/Adaptive One Brakes Toyota was great," he said. "Duane and the team did an awesome job. I never had to use 100 percent of the race car at all. That was the key to pulling away at the end."
Winning at Roseville carried special meaning for Harraka, who claims All American Speedway as his home track although his hometown is Fairlawn, N.J. "This crowd's been really supportive of me through the championship last year, the spring race and definitely tonight. So, being able to do it in front of them is big," he said.
It marked the second win in three races for Harraka, a member of the Drive for Diversity program who entered the event focused on wrapping up the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title. With the win, he netted $9,325 in prize money and posted awards.
Following Harraka and Schmidt across the finish line were Greg Pursley, Bowles and Moses Smith. Rounding out the top 10 were Brett Thompson, Jim Warn, Chris Johnson, Jim Inglebright and Martin McKeefery.
Bowles finished the season 123 points ahead of Holmes in the championship standings -- 2,158 to 2,035. Pursley was third in the standings with 1,978 points -- followed by Harraka with 1,951 and Thompson with 1,805. Completing the top 10 were David Mayhew at 1,799, Smith at 1,766, Blake Koch at 1,726, Warn at 1,590 and Jamie Dick at 1,423.
The event concluded a 13-race season for the West's oldest stock car circuit. The next racing event on the schedule for NASCAR Camping World Series teams will be the prestigious post-season NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown on Jan. 29-30, 2010 in Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.). Bowles and Harraka already had secured spots in the Showdown by virtue of wins earlier this year.
Bowles and the rest of the NASCAR touring series champions will be honored at the Touring Series Gala in Concord, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 14.