BOWLES HAS SOLID RUN AT PHOENIX, BRINGS AMERICAN MAJORITY RACING NO. 81 DODGE HOME 19TH
March 3, 2012 (Avondale, AZ) Jason Bowles capped a positive weekend of racing in Phoenix with a 19th-place finish in the Bashas' Supermarkets 200. In a must-have points weekend for the MacDonald Motorsports team following a tough luck finish in Daytona the weekend prior, Bowles delivered with a solid race by keeping his cool and running his fastest laps in the final stages of the race.
"We knew this weekend was crucial to have a result," said Bowles, driver of the No.81 American Majority Dodge. "Our goal was top-15, but we didn't want to settle for anything outside of the top-20, so in that respect I'm happy. Your mindset is always to lead laps and win, but after Daytona we needed to put points in the bank and we did that today."
Bowles lined up for Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide event on the outside of row 9 and quickly charged forward at the drop of the green flag. By lap 6, his pledgetovote.com machine was shown in 11th-place. He would settle into the 13th spot over the next 10 laps until radioing in, "the car is getting a little tight."
Ten laps later, communication from the car had gone from "a little tight" to, "this car is soooo tight." On the scoring pylon Bowles slipped down to the 19th position, with lap times really beginning to show his struggles.
With the race running an uncharacteristic caution-free, race leader Denny Hamlin passed Bowles on lap 40, putting him one lap down. Quickly, crew chief Jon Monsam offered his driver words of encouragement, "don't worry, we'll fix it, it's a long race."
Moments later a caution on lap 46 brought Bowles in for a pitstop and the team made track bar and air pressure adjustments to try and free the car up in the corners and subsequently get it to turn better.
However, over the next 50 laps the changes didn't really improve the car and Bowles fell as far as the 25th position, but he would not give in. A Kenny Wallace crash on lap 100 brought out another caution and the team made more changes to the American Majority Dodge to chip away at the tight condition. It was a slight improvement and Bowles moved forward again, picking up four spots as the race entered it last stint.
The top-20 was in sight as the readjusted goal and the team made one last change during its lap 165 pitstop to help Bowles settle in for the final 35 laps. Charging hard and pulling away from a small pack behind, Jason laid down some of his best times of the race to take the checkered flag 19th.
"I felt like I had a good start and we got in there with the really fast guys early, but just as I was starting to think we could hang around there, the car started to tighten up," Bowles explained. "It's one of things where all of a sudden you just can't roll through the center of the corner and get back to the gas like the other guys - and when it starts to get tight, it doesn't generally fix itself. That's where we had to make some adjustments and we definitely got better through the race with those adjustments, which is a good thing. I think we were pretty fast at the end, so that helps with everyone's confidence too.
"The big thing though is we scored points today, came away with a clean car and had an entire race to work together. If we can do this week in and week out the first part of the year, we will surprise people at some point. So, I have to thank the guys for hanging in and working hard. Now it's on to Vegas and trying to keep building momentum."
With Saturday's finish, Bowles jumped 6 spots to 22nd in NASCAR Nationwide Series points.