BOWLES WINS ROUGH AND TOUGH BATTLE ON ROAD COURSE AT INFINEON RACEWAY SONOMA, Calif. (June 21, 2008) -- Jason Bowles won a spirited three-way battle around the twisting 1.99-mile road course of Infineon Raceway to take the victory in the Bennett...
BOWLES WINS ROUGH AND TOUGH BATTLE ON ROAD COURSE AT INFINEON RACEWAY
SONOMA, Calif. (June 21, 2008) -- Jason Bowles won a spirited three-way battle around the twisting 1.99-mile road course of Infineon Raceway to take the victory in the Bennett Lane Winery 200 presented by Supercuts on Saturday.
Bowles held off fierce challenges from Eric Holmes and Jim Inglebright in the closing laps to score his first win of the year in NASCAR Camping World Series West competition.
Although Holmes was able to edge alongside in the final two-lap dash to the finish, he could not make the pass on Bowles, who was prepared for the challenge. "I was worried," Bowles said. "I knew he was going to race me clean, but I knew it was going to be tough to hold him off. I did all I could. He didn't get into me. It's going to come back and I'll pay him back with that same favor one of these days when he's leading and I'm in second."
Anticipating he would need a strong car at the end of the race, Bowles had tried to not abuse his No. 22 Sunrise Ford entry early in the event. "The car was pretty good, for sure," he said. "I was saving it for as long as I could. I saved for probably the first 80 percent of the race, just to make sure if I had to go hard in the last couple of laps I could. But I don't think I saved it quite as much as I should have."
In addition to the threat from Holmes and Inglebright, Bowles had another concern in the closing laps. He had opted to pit early, on lap 19, for fuel and not change tires. That strategy helped him get out front by lap 31 and avoid much of the slam-bang action that eliminated some of his competition, but it left him running low on fuel in an event that was extended by four laps because of a late-race caution.
"That last lap, the fuel pressure gauge read zero the whole lap," Bowles said. "I'm glad we didn't have another green-white-checkered or I would have been in big trouble."
Knowing he might run low on fuel, Bowles had been trying to conserve during the caution laps by shutting his engine off and coasting around portions of the track. "I had the motor off for 50 percent of the cautions," he said. "I thought he (Holmes) had his off, because I turned mine off and I couldn't hear anything behind me."
Bowles of Ontario, Calif., crossed the finish line with a margin of victory of .350 seconds to win $11,550 in prize money and posted awards. Taking second was Holmes, who had won the Coors Light Pole Award in qualifying his No. 20 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota on Friday with a lap of 91.805 mph. It marked his third pole of the year and the eighth of his career. Inglebright of Fairfield, Calif., was third in his Jelly Belly Chevrolet -- followed by Tom Hubert of Cottonwood, Calif., in the No. 25 Sunsweet Growers/Red Line Oil Ford and Ken Schrader of Fenton, Mo., in the No. 53 Federated Auto Parts Dodge. Rounding out the top 10 were series rookie Jamie Dick, Austin Cameron, Kyle Kelley, Mike David and Jeff Barkshire.
The leaders were among the few that managed to avoid being body-slammed, booted off course or spun at some point during the race. The wild action resulted in 12 cautions and two red flags. The final yellow was for the most dramatic incident, when Jeff Jefferson's car launched off the curbing in Turn 7 and barrel-rolled several times. Jefferson quickly scrambled out of his crumpled car.
The win was Bowles' first victory of the season and the third of his career. It gave the second-year driver a victory on the only road course where he did not win in 2007, having encountered mechanical problems in last year's race at Infineon Raceway.
"It's nice to get back on top here," Bowles said. "We struggled here. We had some mechanical problems and some crashing problems. Just a number of things went wrong. I'm glad we could get back in victory lane here, because it's the one we didn't get last year."
The win also secured him a spot in the prestigious post-season NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.)
Holmes' second-place finish, meanwhile, gave him a slight lead in the championship standings over Mike David, who battled back to ninth after being spun by another car. Holmes, who won the 2006 championship, leads defending champion David -- 971 to 969. Bowles moved to third in the standings, with 905. Cameron is fourth with 874 points, followed by Barkshire with 867. Completing the top 10 are Inglebright at 864, Moses Smith at 795, Mike Gallegos at 777, Jefferson at 738 and Jamie Dick at 736.
Despite being involved in the initial caution, which left him with a crumpled car, Barkshire was able to continue on for a 10th-place finish and retain his lead in the challenge for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. He has 55 points, followed by Jason Patison and Jim Warn, with 49 each. Close behind is Jamie Dick with 47. Trailing them are Wes Banks with 25, Lloyd Mack with 22 and Ryan Philpott with 15.
The next event on the schedule for the NASCAR Camping World Series West is the California Highway Patrol 200 at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.) on July 4.