There’s no place like home for Jason Bowles. The NASCAR Camping World Series West driver scored his third consecutive win on his home track of Toyota Speedway at Irwindale on Saturday night.
Bowles, who won two series races at the half-mile track last year, led 132 of 200 laps en route to victory in the King Taco 200 before a Fourth of July capacity crowd. The win propelled him into the lead in the championship standings.
Bowles crossed the finish line with a margin of victory of .450 seconds over Jeff Barkshire, the only other driver to lead a lap. Barkshire, running in only his second event of the season, was out front for 68 laps in the first half of the race. Once Bowles – who had started first on the grid after winning the Coors Light Pole Award in qualifying – regained the lead, he was not going to give it up again and Barkshire had to settle for the runner-up spot.
“It’s definitely nice winning here for a third time,” said Bowles, who netted $8,000 in prize money and posted awards. “The Sunrise Ford Ford Fusion was good all night. In the first segment, me and Jeff were pretty equal. When I got out front, I could get away maybe a car length. When he got out front, it was about the same. We really couldn’t do a whole lot with each other.”
Adjustments made by crew chief Bill Sedgwick during the midway break may have made the difference, meanwhile. “When Bill told me what he was changing, I was a little bit nervous, but I don’t ever second guess him because he usually doesn’t steer me the wrong direction,” said Bowles, who is in his third season of driving in the series for car owner Bob Bruncati. “And the car was good.”
Despite being out front, Bowles did become concerned during a stretch of 72 green flag laps just past the break. “We had that long run in that second segment and I was getting a little worried because the car was not driving quite the way I wanted it to,” said the 26-year-old driver from nearby Ontario. “But Bill was telling me my pace, compared to Jeff’s. I was just trying to conserve as much as I could to make sure if we had a couple more restarts the car would be good enough to hold him off. After those first couple of restarts when he was able to get by me, I changed up my style a little bit – changed when I was leaving – and I was able to stay in front of him.”
It marked the ninth career victory for Bowles and his third win of the season, following victories at Phoenix and Sonoma.
For Barkshire, who is running a limited schedule this season with his No. 46 Centennial Batteries/SPE Dodge, the hope is that he may have turned his luck around. Nevertheless, his strong performance at the Southern California track came at a good time, he pointed out.
“This was a real big night for us in a lot of ways,” he said. “This is a home town for all of our sponsors. So, this was real big to be able to run good. The last two races we’ve tried have been real hard. We just about destroyed two cars. This is a car that was totally rebuilt. To have it come out and run up front – we wanted the win and didn’t get it – but we put on a great show.”
“We were both pretty equal the first half,” the 2008 Sunoco Rookie of the Year said of his battle with Bowles. “I was able to get him on a restart on the outside. We led a lot of laps and I think we were pretty equal. We made a change at the halfway break, but it didn’t help. He got a little better and I just wasn’t able to do much with him. But it was a good night.”
Paulie Harraka, who is locked in a tight challenge for this year’s Sunoco Rookie of the Year title, finished in third, matching his best career finish from earlier in the season. He was followed by Patrick Long and Greg Pursley. Completing the top 10 were Eric Holmes, who led the championship standings coming into the event; David Mayhew; Blake Koch; Moses Smith; and Chris Johnson.
The win moved Bowles 24 points ahead of Holmes in the championship – 1,364 to 1,340.
“It’s kind of when we picked up our momentum last year at Sonoma when we won our first race of the year,” Bowles said. “Luckily, this year we won at Phoenix. We’ve been able to stay a lot closer to Eric. We’ve made some big improvements at tracks where we struggled last year. Bill Sedgwick’s done a great job for me. He’s got tons of experience. We just been fine tuning on our cars all year. Luckily we haven’t had a lot of damage or anything like that. So we’ve been able to keep working and bringing back better and better pieces.”
Trailing Bowles and Holmes in the points are Mayhew at 1,277, Pursley at 1,172, Harraka at 1,164, Brett Thompson at 1,112, Koch at 1,111, Smith at 1,085, Mike David at 1,060 and Jim Warn at 927.
With eight of 13 races complete this season, Harraka and Koch are locked in a tight see-saw battle for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title. They each have 74 points. Jonathon Gomez trails with 43 points, followed by Bow Carpenter with eight points.
The next event on the schedule for the NASCAR Camping World Series West will be the Bi-Mart Salute to the Troops 125 at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway on July 19.
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD SERIES WEST-KING TACO 200 Results
At Toyota Speedway at Irwindale
Lap length: 0.5 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (1) Jason Bowles, Ontario, Calif., Ford, 200 laps, 75.204 mph, $8,000.
2. (2) Jeff Barkshire, Auburn, Wash., Dodge, 200, $3,000.
3. (8) Paulie Harraka, Fairlawn, N.J., Toyota, 200, $2,825.
4. (7) Patrick Long, Thousand Oaks, Calif., Ford, 200, $1,750.
5. (5) Greg Pursley, Newhall, Calif., Chevrolet, 200, $2,000.
6. (4) Eric Holmes, Escalon, Calif., Toyota, 200, $2,510.
7. (3) David Mayhew, Atascadero, Calif., Chevrolet, 200, $1,875.
8. (9) Blake Koch, West Palm Beach, Fla., Chevrolet, 200, $1,850.
9. (12) Moses Smith, Tempe, Ariz., Toyota, 199, $2,350.
10. (13) Chris Johnson, Claremont, Calif., Chevrolet, 199, $1,785.
11. (14) Travis Bennett, Ellensburg, Wash., Chevrolet, 198, $1,270.
12. (18) Andrew Myers, Newport Beach Calif., Toyota, 198, $2,750.
13. (15) Johnny Borneman, Ramona, Calif., Ford, 196, $1,725.
14. (19) Wes Banks, Oakdale, Calif., Ford, 196, $1,711.
15. (16) Jamie Dick, Albuquerque, N.M., Chevrolet, 194, $1,700.
16. (20) Phil Dugan, Meridian, Idaho, Chevrolet, 192, $1,675.
17. (11) Brett Thompson, Jerome, Idaho, Chevrolet, 189, $1,650.
18. (6) Brian Wong, Newport Beach, Calif., Toyota, 186, accident, $1,125.
19. (10) Jim Warn, Aurora, Ore, Chevrolet, 77, engine, $1,610.
20. (21) Travis Milburn, Eagle, Idaho, Ford, 15, accident, $1,600.
21. (17) Keith Spangler, Chatsworth, Calif., Toyota, 3, transmission, $1,090.
Time of Race: 1 hour 19 minutes 47 seconds
Margin of Victory: .450 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: J.Bowles (96.185 mph, 18.714 seconds)
Caution Flags: 5 for 23 laps.
Lead Changes: 2 among 2 drivers.
Lap Leaders: J. Bowles 1-18; J. Barkshire 19-86; J. Bowles 87-200.
Standings: 1. J. Bowles, 1364; 2. E. Holmes, 1340; 3. D. Mayhew, 1277; 4. G. Pursley, 1172; 5. P. Harraka, 1164; 6. B. Thompson, 1112; 7. B. Koch, 1111; 8. M. Smith, 1085; 9. M. David, 1060; 10. J. Warn, 927.