2009 NASCAR Camping World West Series champion, Jason Bowles, has some unfinished business in his native California. The former Ontario resident, who recently turned 27 years old, will be returning home next month to compete in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale.
Courtesy: NASCAR Media Relations
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – With the NASCAR Camping World Series West championship in hand, Jason Bowles packed up at the end of the 2009 season and headed to North Carolina in hopes of attracting a ride with a team in one of NASCAR’s national series for next season.
But Bowles has some unfinished business in his native California. The former Ontario resident, who recently turned 27 years old, will be returning home next month to compete in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. The postseason event, which competitors have dubbed the ‘Daytona 500 of short-track racing,’ is slated for Jan. 29-30.
“It’s such a huge event, there’s no way I would miss it,” Bowles said. “I’m really looking forward to it because we had so much success at Irwindale and at the Showdown last year. For me, it’s going to be good to come back and race for the team one last time and have my family be able to be there and watch.”
Entering the event as the NASCAR Camping World Series West champion carries some extra meaning as well, according to Bowles.
“That’s definitely a nice thing, being the champion and being able to come back and get a chance to run,” he said. “Hopefully, we can carry some of the momentum we had from last year to that race and bring home a victory.”
A win in the prestigious event, practically in his own backyard, would provide a storybook ending to the three successful years Bowles spent in the NASCAR Camping World Series West. In that three-year span he won the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title and finished third in the overall championship standings in 2007, finished second in 2008, and won the title in 2009. He compiled nine wins, nine Coors Light Poles, 25 top-five and 30 top-10 finishes in 39 series starts – all while driving for car owner Bob Bruncati.
Bowles also had strong performances in the two NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown events he competed in at Irwindale. He finished 12th as a rookie in 2007 and in the most recent edition of the all-star race he led 24 laps and finished third.
Although the former open-wheel driver was initially known in the series for his success on road courses, he quickly developed a knack for racing on ovals. In fact, five of his nine career series wins came on ovals, with three of those being in overwhelming fashion at his home track of Toyota Speedway.
Despite his domination in those three NASCAR Camping World Series West races there, Bowles is not able to attribute his success at the half-mile track to anything in particular.
“I really can’t exactly put my finger on it,” he said. “The first year, in ’07, we really struggled at Irwindale – during the season and at the Showdown. When (crew chief) Bill (Sedgwick) came on board, we made some slight changes to the car and I made some changes to my driving and we were able to hit on something. Every time we go back there we’re able to get the car to my liking during practice. And I’ve got a pretty good feel for what it needs to be during the day, so that it races good at night.”
His success there has boosted his confidence.
“Confidence is a huge thing, because we’ve run so good there so many times,” Bowles said. “It really helps going back there knowing what I need the car to feel like and knowing the guys are going to give me a good car to race.”
The seventh running of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, which brings together the top racers from across North America will be highlighted by the 225-lap Camping World Series all-star race. Each race winner during the 2009 Camping World Series season is eligible for a protected starting spot, as are the 2009 champions from each of NASCAR’s six regional touring series and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion.
In addition to eligible 2009 race winners and series champions, the starting lineup will be determined through time trials, limited provisionals for Camping World Series regulars, and the last-chance "Open" race that provides drivers one final chance to make the grid.
The 2010 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown schedule also includes 100-lap Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model and 75-lap Late Model races. Both nights of racing will air live on SPEED.