Bowles Looking For Redemption In Return To Infineon Raceway Jason Bowles (No. 22 Sunrise Ford Ford) had a remarkable rookie season last year, winning two of the three road races on the schedule for the NASCAR Camping World Series West en route...
Bowles Looking For Redemption In Return To Infineon Raceway
Jason Bowles (No. 22 Sunrise Ford Ford) had a remarkable rookie season last year, winning two of the three road races on the schedule for the NASCAR Camping World Series West en route to winning the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, and finishing third in the overall championship standings.
The race at Infineon Raceway was a different story, however. Bowles was beset by mechanical problems there from the drop of the green flag, leaving him to finish a lap down in 29th.
"I'm definitely looking forward to going back there and getting a little redemption, hopefully," said the former open-wheel driver from Ontario, Calif.
He will get his chance when the NASCAR Camping World Series West heads to the twisting 1.99-mile road course in Sonoma, Calif., for the Bennett Lane Winery 200 presented by Supercuts on Saturday, June 21. The race, the first of two road course events on this year's schedule, is slated to air live in high definition on HDNet. In addition, an enhanced replay is to air on SPEED.
"We were fast last year," Bowles recalled of the Infineon race in 2007. "We just had several issues that kept putting us to the back. We could just never seem to recover from them. I'm looking forward to going back there and seeing if we can win that one, as well."
While Bowles tried to battle back from his problems, his teammate for the event, David Gilliland, was heading to victory in a second car entered by car owner Bob Bruncati. With similar speeds, Bowles would have enjoyed the opportunity to challenge Gilliland
"I think we probably had the speed to do it, but I think he had a little better strategy than we did," Bowles said of Gilliland's decision not to pit for fresh tires. "We might have struggled to beat him, but as far as the outright speed, I think we were on a level playing field."
Bowles, 25, credits his road racing experience as an open-wheel competitor for his quick success on road courses in stock cars.
"Road racing my whole life has certainly helped," he said. "It just feels natural to me, opposed to all these guys that have raced ovals their whole life."
Racing stock cars on a road course does have its differences, however, Bowles admitted. "It's nothing like driving a 1,200-pound Formula Ford or a 1,500-pound open-wheel car like I've driven in the past, when you're driving this thing that weighs twice as much," he said.
Bowles points to a major adjustment in making the switch from the light-weight open-wheel cars to the heavier stock cars. "The biggest thing is you can't overdrive at all," he said. "If you overdrive at all in a stock car, it just kills your lap time. I think that's the biggest adjustment that I had to make.
"And I think that's what made me as good as we were on the road courses, because I was able to adjust and not overdrive, save my equipment and we were good all the way to the end," he said.
News & Notes
The race -- The Bennett Lane Winery 200 presented by Supercuts is the sixth race on the NASCAR Camping World Series West schedule in 2008. It is the first of two road course events this season.
The procedure -- The starting field is 40 cars, including provisionals. The first 36 cars will qualify through NASCAR road racing style qualifying. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 64 laps (127.36 miles).
The track -- Infineon Raceway is a winding 10-turn 1.99-mile road course, with varying elevation. The West has visited the Sonoma facility 28 times, since first going there in 1969. In addition to the track hosting 19 stand-alone events, drivers and teams competed in nine companion events there with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series between 1989 and 1997.
The records -- Qualifying: David Gilliland, June 23, 2007, 91.979 mph, 77.887 seconds; Race: Brian Vickers, June 24, 2006, 67.595 mph, 1 hour 53 minutes 3 seconds.
$50,000 in prize money distributed -- The top 20 teams in the NASCAR Camping World Series West received a combined $50,000 in prize money for the first portion of the championship program for this season. The prize money, part of the overall $350,000 point fund award for 2008, was distributed based on driver championship standings after the first four races.
Long entry list at Infineon -- Another large field of entries is expected at Infineon Raceway. Last year's event attracted 40 cars and preliminary entries indicate the turnout for this year's event may exceed that number.
Testing, testing -- More than 20 teams made an early visit to Infineon Raceway for a test session on June 10.
NASCAR Day at State Capitol -- Several West Coast drivers and teams participated in this year's "NASCAR Day at the State Capitol" in Sacramento on June 14. The event featured a parade of stock cars along the Capitol Mall to the traffic circle, where they were put on display. Drivers also participated in a question and answer session about NASCAR Week at Infineon.
Front runners at Infineon -- Three drivers -- Hershel McGriff (1983, 1985, 1987), Jim Insolo (1978, 1979, 1980) and Bill Schmitt (1981, 1988, 1989) -- lead competition at Infineon, with three wins each. Schmitt also leads in terms of top-five finishes, with eight, and top-10 finishes, with nine. McGriff led the most laps, meanwhile, running out front for 142 laps. Two-time race winner Butch Gilliland (1996, 1997) accumulated the most money won at Infineon, netting $42,300.
Also in Victory Lane -- Other drivers to win a race at Infineon include David Gilliland (2007), Jim Bown (1984), Ray Elder (1969), Doug George (1995), Kevin Harvick (1998), Jack McCoy (1969), Jim Robinson (1986), Roy Smith (1982) and Brian Vickers (2006).
Pole winners -- While Hershel McGriff leads with three poles at Infineon, Jim Bown, Butch Gilliland, Roy Smith and Tim Williamson each had won two poles there.
Series experience at Infineon -- Jack Sellers (No. 15 Aramark Chevrolet) has the most series experience at Infineon of any active driver. He competed in nine stand-alone series events, finishing as high as 11th in 1989, and six combination events, finishing 40th on two occasions.
Pontiac prevails -- With five wins, a Pontiac has been in Victory Lane at Infineon more than any other manufacturer.
Stat of the race -- Five of the 18 events at Infineon in the modern era were won by a driver starting from the pole position.
The Race: Bennett Lane Winery 200 presented by Supercuts
The Place: Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, Calif.
The Date: Saturday, June 21
The Time: 12:30 p.m. PT
TV Schedule: HDNet (Live)
SPEED (enhanced replay) July 8, 1:00 p.m. ET
Track Layout: 1.99-mile road course
Race Purse: $173,055
2007 Winner: David Gilliland
2007 Pole: David Gilliland
Schedule: Friday: Practice 8:30-10 a.m. Final Practice 10:50-11:50 a.m. Time Trials 2:20 p.m.
Drivers from Golden State Look Forward To Return Home
This week's visit to Infineon Raceway represents a return to their home state for many competitors in the NASCAR Camping World Series West.
After traveling to Arizona, Texas, Iowa and Colorado for the past four races, drivers from California have looked forward to competing in the Golden State.
And for several drivers from Northern California, the Infineon event marks a return to competition near the location of their NASCAR Home Track.
Mike David (No. 2 Bennett Lane Winery Ford) of Modesto, Calif., and Eric Holmes (No. 20 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota) of Escalon, Calif., were both second-generation racers at the now-shuttered Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway, which was just over an hour away from Infineon.
In making the transition from racing motorcycles to racing stock cars, Jim Inglebright (No. 1 Jelly Belly Chevrolet) of Fairfield, Calif., competed in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series just a bit further away at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif. -- winning back-to-back championships in 1991 and 1992.
Jack Sellers (No. 15 Aramark Chevrolet) was also a regular at All American Speedway early in his career.
Last year's event ...
With the victory in last year's race, David Gilliland became a second-generation winner in NASCAR Camping World Series West action at Infineon. His father, Butch, had won 10 years before him. Although he dominated much of the action, winning the pole and leading the most laps, Gilliland faced plenty of challenges. After initially dashing into the lead, Joey Logano trailed Gilliland through the early laps. He later pressured Gilliland, before dropping out with engine failure on Lap 55. Meanwhile, Gilliland and his team relied on a different strategy than most, opting to only make one pit stop for fuel midway in the race and not take on fresh tires. Pit procedures in place for the event restricted teams from refueling and taking on fresh tires in the same stop. In addition, teams were limited to taking on only two tires per stop. Gilliland relinquished the lead when he made his pit stop on Lap 22. Although mired at the back of the pack, he was soon up front when nearly all the leaders pitted during a caution on Lap 31. Gilliland took the lead on Lap 35 and maintained the top spot to the checkered flag. P.J. Jones finished second, followed by Boris Said.
Final notes from Colorado
Three of five -- The victory by Eric Holmes (No. 20 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota) in the Toyota/NAPA 150 at Colorado National Speedway on June 7 was his third win in five races. It also marked his fifth career victory.
Career marks -- Mike Gallegos (No. 34 RTD Motorsports/D4D Chevrolet) had a career-best fourth-place finish, while Daryl Harr (No. 71 WestWorld Computers Chevrolet) tied his best mark of fifth.
Fast rookie -- Jeff Barkshire (No. 46 Centennial Batteries/SPE Dodge) won the Sunoco Rookie of the Race Award for the fourth consecutive race.