For 2004 Bowles has planned to run his first full year in cars in the Skip Barber National Series, while preparing for the first race in Sebring, FL Bowles received a call from JDC motorsports to see if he would be interested in competing in the...
For 2004 Bowles has planned to run his first full year in cars in the Skip Barber National Series, while preparing for the first race in Sebring, FL Bowles received a call from JDC motorsports to see if he would be interested in competing in the Formula Ford Zetec Championship since he was already going to be back in Sebring. Bowles knew that he could not pass up an opportunity for more seat time in a well recognized feeder series.
When Bowles arrived in Sebring the day before the first test day he still had never met the team or driven a race car around the full 3.7 mile Sebring race track. After meeting with the team Bowles was able to get fitted to the car in preparation for the pre-race test days. This week of racing was going to be extremely tough for Bowles because he would be competing in both the Formula Ford Zetec and the Skip Barber Formula Dodge, with both cars taking an extremely different driving styles Bowles would have to adjust quickly. After the Monday and Tuesday test days Bowles was feeling comfortable in both cars and had put himself comfortably in the top 10 on the time sheets in preparation for both qualifying sessions.
Wednesday morning would start off with a 30min Formula Ford qualifying session Bowles started out by going out and completing 6 laps and putting in a time good enough for the third position when a red flag came out due to a stopped car on course. During the red flag Bowles spoke with the team about making some changes for when the green came back out because he felt that he could still improve on his time, unfortunately with the session being only 30min long the session never returned to green flag conditions and Bowles would have to settle for the third position. "I think I could have gone a little bit faster if we could have put in a few more laps but I am happy with qualifying third for my first Formula Ford race." Formula Dodge qualifying would take place first thing Thursday morning with a 30min session where Bowles was able to go out and put in a time good enough for the fifth position. "The result was not quite as good as I wanted but I was struggling with a few sections this morning and hopefully I can improve on them in the race."
As soon as Bowles climbed out of the Formula Dodge after Thursday morning qualifying he ran to the grid fully suited to climb into the Formula Ford for the first race. Once Bowles was strapped into the car no more than five minutes later they were rolling onto the track to get ready for the start, At the drop of the green flag Bowles was on the move going up the inside of the pole sitter and moving into the race lead. Bowles was able to lead most of the first lap but had moved back to third by the end of the second lap. Although Bowles was back to third Bowles was staying close to the leaders and on the fourth lap the two leaders came together entering turn 17 and Bowles was able to retake the lead and was unchallenged for the remainder of the race extending his lead to just over three seconds and taking his first Formula Ford win. "I couldn't ask for anything better I showed up on Sunday hoping to run well and now I am on top of the podium a first for me and JDC motorsports."
Thursday afternoon Bowles would take the green flag for the first Skip Barber National Championship race of the year. At the drop of the green flag there were cars going everywhere, everyone thought they were going to win on the first lap. Bowles was slowly making progress and ha moved up into the second position until he mad contact with another car going into turn 17 and was moved all the way back to the ninth position. " After we came together I did everything I could just to keep it out of the outside wall." After regaining speed in the last few laps Bowles was able to work his way back up to the fifth position and score some decent points by the time the checkered flag flew.
Friday morning would start off with qualifying for the Skip Barber National Series. For the first part of the session Bowles was on top of the charts but was not able to keep up his pace and by the end he had moved all the way back to the sixth position, but today the times between the top ten were much closer. "I was hoping to improve on yesterday's performance but I will have to settle for sixth and try to move up in the race." At the drop of the green flag Bowles got off to a good start and was able to make steady progress and by the fifth lap move himself into the second position. Bowles was able to hold on to second until the closing laps where two of his fellow competitors were able to get by when Bowles made a mistake coming onto the back straight away, and with the laps winding down and the cars being so equally matched Bowles was not able to make the ground back up. "I happy with how the first two races went I made a small mistake today but things like that happen. I still got two top five finishes and hopefully I can improve on that in round 2."
The last race of the day would be the Formula Ford Zetec race. With no qualifying for the second race you start where you finish the first race which meant Bowles would start from the pole. When the green came out Bowles was ready and was able to hold onto the top position going into turn one. After that Bowles was able to pull out a small gap on the second place driver and was able to hold onto that position until on lap ten when going through turn 17 the rear of the car bottomed and made the car go bad loose and Bowles had to do everything he could to keep the car out of the wall. Once Bowles got the car saved it was able to give the second place car a run going down the main straight which forced Bowles to surrender the lead going into turn one. After his mistake Bowles was pushing had because he knew that the laps were winding down and if he was going to make a move it would have to be with in the next two laps. On the same lap Bowles lost the lead when going into turn five he clipped the inside curb which made the car under steer right off the track and when reentering the track Bowles had moved back to the third position. Once Bowles regained the race for the last two laps he was able to close the gap back up to the lead two drivers ran out of time to try and make a move. "Unfortunately today a few mistakes cost me, the car was working really good I just messed up. The week was not all that bad in my first Formula Ford week I have a first and third and I am leaving here as the points leader. Now I need to try to find some money to continue the season and turn that points lead into a championship."