(MOORESVILLE, N.C. - June 26, 2012) - For the second year in a row, Cunningham Motorsports left Winchester Speedway in Winchester, Ind. with all the hardware of victory.
Alex Bowman and his #22 St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Dodge took their second victory of the 2012 ARCA Racing Series season in the Herr’s Chase the Taste 200. The checkered flag added to Cunningham Motorsports’ trophy room, which already contains the trophy from their win last season at Winchester with current Camping World Truck competitor, Dakoda Armstrong.
During both of the Saturday practice sessions, Bowman and his Paul Andrews-led team posted the 6th fastest speed. With Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell on the schedule next, Bowman put the Cunningham Dodge 5th on the starting grid.
With future funding uncertain, once Bowman strapped on his helmet and the green flag flew, he was able to focus on the task at hand –winning the race. Immediately Bowman realized how difficult passing would be on the .5-mile high-banked track. By lap 36 he had made adjustments to his line and was in fourth. With spotter Richard Coleman reminding him regularly, “Patience, Bud, patience --we gotta conserve those tires,” Bowman started to get in his rhythm. As the first caution of the race came out on lap 42, crew chief Paul Andrews kept the third place #22 on the track. As the green waved again, Bowman continued his march forward, picking off second four laps later. That is when the real race began, as the current leader, Brennan Poole and Bowman put on quite a show for the fans, running many laps side by side and making three-wide passes around lapped cars. Bowman took the point for the first time at lap 92, before swapping the lead again on the next lap with Poole. As Bowman once again took the leap on the following lap, the yellow came out for a blown tire. Andrews called his young driver to pit road for right side tires and fuel, re-starting second, one lap shy of the halfway mark. Bowman dropped back to third as one of the cars that pitted for four tires during caution passed him. All the while spotter Coleman is repeating, “Patience, patience” to his driver. As the next caution came out, Andrews kept Bowman on track to maintain track position. Though there were only eight on the lead lap, Andrews wanted to wait until the most beneficial time to pit for those 4 fresh Hoosiers waiting in the pits. When the caution came out on lap 147, Andrews decided it was time to put new rubber on the Dodge.
The pit crew performed flawlessly on what they call “the money stop”. With a lightning quick stop, that got Bowman out ahead of Poole, Bowman lined up seventh for the re-start. (All of the cars in front of him either took only two tires or didn’t pit during the caution.) Two laps after the green, on lap 153, Bowman was fourth. With 40 laps remaining, he had worked his way to second. As the benefits of the 4-tire stop began to prove itself, Bowman took over the point with 31 laps remaining in the race. As Bowman and Poole completed the final laps, weaving in and out of lapped cars, Poole could never catch Bowman, giving the 19 year old from Tucson, AZ his second victory of 2012. The Winchester victory is Bowman’s fourth ARCA Racing Series win in 11 starts. In addition to the 2 wins in the 2012 season, Bowman has 5 top-3 finishes and 6 top-10 finishes in 9 races. The victory moved Bowman into third in the championship points battle.
"I didn't win that race; the pit crew guys did," said Bowman, who started fifth. "I've just got to thank everybody at Cunningham Motorsports. It's awesome to get St. Jude's (Children's Research Hospital) back in Victory Lane, and it's really cool to have the Impellizeri family here. It means a lot to me. Losing Scott was pretty tough. He was one of my really good friends, so I've got to dedicate this win to him again.
"We were so evenly matched with the 25 (Brennan Poole) that I kept trying to get around him. I got somewhere around him one time when the caution came out. From there, their guys beat us off pit road, but our guys made up for it with that four-tire pit stop and I've got to thank Briggs Cunningham, Penske engines, Paul Andrews, Kerry Scherer, my grandma, God."
Bowman and the Cunningham team have a hectic five days, with a test session scheduled for Wednesday in preparation for the All-American Race Weekend by Global Barter at New Jersey Motorsports Park on Sunday. The road course will be Bowman’s first experience on a road course in a full-bodied stock car. But as, Inside ARCA host, Charlie Krall stated in his interview with Bowman after the victory lane celebration, “This was your first time at Winchester also, so I am guessing the road course won’t provide you with much of a problem.”
Teams will practice on the challenging Thunderbolt Raceway 2.3-mile road course from 11:20 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. and 1:40 to 2:40 on Saturday, June 30, with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell following at 4:30. The 67-lap, 150-mile race - the fifth for ARCA on the New Jersey course - will start at 1 p.m. Sunday, with live timing and scoring and live audio coverage presented by the ARCA Racing Network available at ARCARacing.com. All on-track activity will be covered on twitter @cunningham_race.
Follow Alex on twitter @AlexBRacing