(MOORESVILLE, N.C. - July 15, 2012) - Alex Bowman led 93 of 200 laps in his Manatt's/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Dodge at Iowa Speedway to gain his third victory in 11 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards races this season.
He has amassed 5 victories in his short 13 race ARCA career. The 19 year old from Tucson, AZ, driving the #22 Dodge out of the Cunningham Motorsports stables, qualified second earlier in the day, after practicing in the top 10 in both of the practices. After the team threw “everything, but the kitchen sink” at the car in practice, crew chief Paul Andrews hit on a set-up that Bowman could work with.
Bowman picked up sponsorship from locally-owned Manatts, Inc., just prior to the race. Manatts is an industry leading heavy construction company that is family owned and operated. Until recently, the Manatt family also owned the Iowa Speedway. They were the builders and primary owners of the Iowa Speedway. Bowman commented about the excitement of sharing his Iowa race experience with the family who knew the track from its inception, “I want to thank JoAnn Menatt and Menatts, Inc. for coming on to help sponsor us, here at Iowa, a speedway that is very dear to them. I hope we can give them a great run and a different view of the race track.”
As the Prairie Meadows 200 began, with Bowman on the outside pole, he and pole winner, Brennan Poole went off into turn 1 and 2 side-by-side. The #22 quickly settled into his own rhythm, allowing the leader to pull away to a 5 second lead. With Bowman in second he radioed to Andrews, “I feel a vibration in the motor and the car is real, real loose.” This brought concerns to Andrews and the crew as they had contemplated making a motor change during the second practice session, earlier in the day because of some issues they were having. Lapping of the slower cars began quickly, with only 15 cars on the lead lap by lap 40. With 50 laps in the books, Bowman had dropped to third and continued to fight a really loose race car, ultimately falling into fourth by lap 62. Spotter, Richard Coleman kept his young driver focused on the task at hand. Many times when he could he hear Bowman’s frustration level escalate, he would remind him how important patience was. With his calming voice in Bowman’s ear, he would tell him, “We will be fine..there is a long way to go.”
As the leader blew a right front tire, Bowman took advantage of the caution flag to come into the pits for four fresh Hoosiers, fuel and a track bar adjustment to correct the loose condition. When the green flag dropped on lap 82, Bowman seemed to have a new lease on life, as he picked up second three laps later and made the pass for the lead on lap 87. The green remained out until lap 114, when the caution flew for a car into the wall, due to a blown tire. Andrews kept the Dodge on the track, as a couple of the cars in the top 10 pitted. When the green flag came out on lap 120, Bowman remained in the lead.
When the yellow flag flew on lap 127, Bowman radioed that the car “started snug in center…then got free” to Andrews. With this information, Andrews called Bowman in to the pits for 4 tires and fuel. With a nice stop by the pit crew, Bowman lined up 3rd on the restart since the two cars ahead of him had pitted during the previous caution. In three laps, Bowman had taken over the second spot, as caution returned to the track. With two quick cautions, green flag conditions flew over the speedway on lap 149, with Bowman second to nine time ARCA Series champion Frank Kimmel. Three short laps later, the crew heard Coleman say, “New leader…the 22!”
With Bowman on the point, 15 car lengths ahead of second, the yellow flag was shown on lap 185. As Bowman told his crew, “That’s the last thing I wanted”, his crew certainly agreed with him, as they too were anxious for the checkered flag. With a perfect restart on lap 192, Bowman took a 7 car length lead into the back stretch. But, this was not the final restart of the race. On lap 197 of the scheduled 200, a spin in turn 2 caused the yellow to fly for the final time, resulting in overtime. Once again on the restart, Bowman made it through the gears flawlessly and had commanded a 3 car length advantage over Grant Enfinger in second. With the white flag in the air, Bowman’s crew held their collective breath, until they could see the black #22 come into view off turn 4, heading to his 3rd checkered flag of 2012. For the Cunningham organization, the win is the 3rd in four years at the Iowa Speedway, with the team not entering a driver the fourth year.
After an impressive burnout, (something he is getting pretty good at), Bowman drove the #22 into the Pizza Ranch victory lane, where the celebration began. The excited winner said, "I want to thank everyone at Cunningham Motorsports, Paul Andrews, Kerry Scherer, Briggs Cunningham, everybody at Penske Engines," Bowman said. "We had great horsepower all night, but almost ended up changing a motor. We had a couple little problems, and we had a little bit of motor trouble throughout the race, but Paul Andrews had the car dialed in enough to make up for it. It's a really cool night.
"Hopefully, our bad luck stops from here on out. We won Winchester and went to Jersey, and had New Jersey won, but broke something and finished 13th. To come here, we could have had three in a row, but two out of the last three races, I definitely can't complain. I'm not a points racer. I'm here to win every race the rest of the year. I think I have every opportunity to win nine more races this year. Cunningham Motorsports, we have the best people and we bring the best race cars. Paul Andrews is the best at what he does, so I don't expect anything less than to show up to the race track and definitely have a chance to win every week." The win locks Bowman into a three-way battle for the championship; currently in 3rd, 75 points from the lead.
The Ansell ActivArmr 150 at Chicagoland is the next race for Bowman and his Cunningham Motorsports team. Practice for the 100 lap event at the 1.5 mile speedway takes place from 7:05-8:35 EST Friday. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell is scheduled for Saturday at 10:30am EST, with the race beginning at 5:00pm EST. The 150 miles will be covered live on SPEED, with coverage of all on-track activity on twitter @cunningham_race. Follow Alex on twitter @AlexBRacing.