Jason Bowles had one shot at Steve Park and made it count. Bowles jumped to the lead going into Turn 1 at Phoenix International Raceway at the start of a wild green-white-checkered finish that included three and four-wide racing, and rolled the No. 6 Sunrise Ford Ford to the victory Thursday in the Jimmie Johnson Foundation 150 presented Shamrock Farms.
It was Bowles’ seventh career victory and first of the season in the NASCAR Camping World Series West. His previous best finish at Phoenix was 11th last year. The win also earned Bowles a secure spot in the starting lineup for the postseason NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
Although Bowles set the pace for much of the first half of the event, different pit strategy left him facing a big challenge to chase down Park’s No. 35 Waste Management Recycle America Chevrolet. Charging from 12th on a lap 89 restart, Bowles knew he had to be careful not to abuse his car in making his way up front.
“It was a fine line,” Bowles said. “I thought at one point I did use it up because I got to Steve, but couldn’t do a lot with him. His car was a little bit free getting off the corner. A couple of times he slipped up and I was able to get my nose under there. I’ve got to hand it to him, he raced me super clean all night long. Hopefully, we put on a good race for the fans.”
Although Bowles appeared to have the car to beat through much of the event, he still had a handling issue. “My car was a little tight all night,” he said. “I was just having a hard time keeping it on the bottom, but I could get a good drive off. I just tried to conserve as much as I could.”
Bowles led four times for 86 laps at the one-mile oval. He briefly lost the lead to Park following a lap-139 restart. Bowles managed to get by Park with five laps to go, but a late-race spin gave Park another shot at Bowles. This time, the 25-year-old Ontario, Calif., driver got the jump he needed.
Point leader Eric Holmes of Escalon, Calif., took advantage of the wild scramble in the final two laps to take second place in the No. 20 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota. Park – a regular in the NASCAR Camping World Series East from East Northport, N.Y. – came home third. Mike David of Modesto, Calif., was fourth in the Bennett Lane Winery Toyota - while Greg Pursley of Newhall, Calif., was fifth in the Gene Price Motorsports/Star Nursery Chevrolet. Pursley had won his first career Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day with a record lap of 129.571 mph.
Rounding out the top 10 were Andrew Myers, series rookies Blake Koch and Paulie Harraka, Brett Thompson and Terry Henry.
The race featured nine lead changes among four drivers. David Gilliland shot into the lead at the drop of the green flag and led the first three laps before cutting a right front tire and hitting the Turn 1 wall. In addition to the 86 laps Bowles led, Park was out front 39 laps and Holmes led 23 laps.
With his runner-up finish, Holmes retained his lead in the championship standings with 535 points. The victory propelled Bowles, meanwhile, to second with 503 points. The battle for this season’s championship has quickly turned into a continuation of last year’s campaign, with Holmes and Bowles leading the way. Pursley is currently third in the standings with 490 points, followed by David with 457 points and David Mayhew with 441. Although Mayhew ran with the leaders throughout much of the event at Phoenix, in the final laps he faded to a 14th-place finish with a burned alternator wire. Rounding out the top 10 of the standings are Koch at 431, Moses Smith at 427, Harraka at 419, Thompson at 411 and Jim Warn at 376.
Koch has edged out front in the chase for this year’s Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. Koch has 28 points, followed by Harraka and Jonathon Gomez with 26 points each. Bow Carpenter trails with eight points.
The next event on the NASCAR Camping World Series West schedule will be the NAPA Auto Parts/Toyota 150 presented by Exclusive Energy Drink at Madera (Calif.) Speedway on Saturday, April 25.
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD SERIES WEST-
JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATION 150 by Shamrock Farms
At Phoenix International Raceway
Lap length: 1 mile
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (4) Jason Bowles, Ontario, Calif., Ford, 151 laps, 80.212 mph, $15,000.
2. (8) Eric Holmes, Escalon, Calif., Toyota, 151, $11,600.
3. (5) Steve Park, East Northport, N.Y., Chevrolet, 151, $8,000.
4. (16) Mike David, Modesto, Calif., Toyota, 151, $7,500.
5. (1) Greg Pursley, Newhall, Calif., Chevrolet, 151, $7,500.
6. (12) Andrew Myers, Newport Beach Calif., Toyota, 151, $5,500.
7. (15) Blake Koch, West Palm Beach, Fla., Chevrolet, 151, $5,825.
8. (21) Paulie Harraka, Fairlawn, N.J., Toyota, 151, $4,750.
9. (7) Brett Thompson, Jerome, Idaho, Chevrolet, 151, $4,250.
10. (9) Terry Henry, Bakersfield, Calif., Chevrolet, 151, $3,350.
11. (10) Jim Warn, Aurora, Ore, Chevrolet, 151, $3,700.
12. (26) Todd Souza, Aromas, Calif., Chevrolet, 151, $4,250.
13. (25) Daryl Harr, St Albert, Alberta, Chevrolet, 151, $3,175.
14. (3) David Mayhew, Atascadero, Calif., Chevrolet, 151, $2,500.
15. (17) Austin Dillon, Lewisville, N.C., Chevrolet, 150, $2,475.
16. (11) Moses Smith, Tempe, Ariz., Toyota, 150, $2,950.
17. (23) Keith Spangler, Chatsworth, Calif., Toyota, 150, $2,400.
18. (27) Wes Banks, Oakdale, Calif., Ford, 150, $2,375.
19. (20) Jonathon Gomez, Twin Falls, Idaho, Chevrolet, 150, $2,820.
20. (18) Travis Bennett, Ellensburg, Wash., Chevrolet, 149, $2,250.
21. (24) Kyle Kelley, Huntington Beach, Calif., Chevrolet, 149, $2,225.
22. (30) Kristin Bumbera, Sealy, Texas, Chevrolet, 149, $2,200.
23. (29) Billy Kann, Mesa, Ariz., Chevrolet, 146, $2,150.
24. (31) Jack Sellers, Sacramento, Calif., Chevrolet, 144, $2,600.
25. (33) Brian Jackson, Colton, Calif., Chevrolet, 137, $2,050.
26. (14) Ryan Foster, Anderson, Calif., Ford, 134, parked, $2,000.
27. (6) Johnny Borneman, Ramona, Calif., Chevrolet, 132, accident, $2,475.
28. (19) Chris Johnson, Claremont, Calif., Chevrolet, 98, engine, $1,950.
29. (22) Jamie Dick, Albuquerque, N.M., Ford, 39, accident, $2,425.
30. (13) Jim Inglebright, Fairfield, Calif., Chevrolet, 26, engine, $2,400.
31. (28) Johnathan Hale, Rio Linda, Calif., Chevrolet, 16, suspension, $1,875.
32. (2) David Gilliland, Riverside, Calif., Toyota, 4, accident, $1,850.
33. (32) Phil Dugan, Meridian, Idaho, Ford, 0, oil leak, $1,825.
Time of Race: 1 hour 52 minutes 57 seconds
Margin of Victory: .532 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: G.Pursley (129.571 mph, 27.784 seconds)
Caution Flags: 9 for 39 laps.
Lead Changes: 9 among 4 drivers.
Lap Leaders: G. Pursley-grid; D. Gilliland 1-3; J. Bowles 4-62; E. Holmes 63-85; S. Park 86-117; J. Bowles 118-138; S. Park 139-144; J. Bowles 145-148; S. Park 149; J. Bowles 150-151.
Standings: 1. E. Holmes, 535; 2. J. Bowles, 503; 3. G. Pursley, 490; 4. M. David, 457; 5. D. Mayhew, 441; 6. B. Koch, 431; 7. M. Smith, 427; 8. P. Harraka, 419; 9. B. Thompson, 411; 10. J. Warn, 376.