(WINCHESTER, Ind. - June 24, 2012) - Alex Bowman used a late four-tire pit stop to his advantage and seized the race lead for the final time on Lap 170 before leading the final 31 laps to win the Herr's Chase the Taste 200 at Winchester Speedway. Bowman's win is his second this year and the fourth of his career.
Bowman (No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge), who also won at the very similar Salem Speedway in April, first led two single laps just before the race's halfway point. He lurked behind the leaders until passing Erik Jones - who had taken two tires in the pits - on the race's final green flag run to stay at the front for good.
Just as he did in his first career victory at Madison International Speedway last year, Bowman dedicated the victory to a lost friend.
"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."
Poole (No. 25 Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet) led 71 laps early but trailed Bowman as the race wound down. He closed to within one tenth of a second with 13 laps to go, but lost ground over the final 10 laps before popping a tire just before taking the white flag. He held on for second place, 6.424 seconds behind Bowman. Jones (No. 55 Paragon Corvette Restoration Chevrolet), who led 41 laps and was bidding to become the ARCA Racing Series' youngest winner, finished third.
Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell winner Chris Buescher (No. 17 Reliance Tool/David Ragan Ford Ford) led the first 35 laps after coming just short of Ryan Blaney's 2011 track qualifying record on Saturday. Poole and Jones both passed him on Lap 36, and Poole built a short lead before Chad Hackenbracht (No. 58 CGH Motorsports Chevrolet) popped his right front tire on Lap 42. Poole led again out of the green flag at Lap 50, but Jones almost passed him on Lap 53. His car went somewhat sideways, though, and Bowman found his way past after running third. He closed Poole's lead to under one tenth of a second on Laps 56-58, but Poole picked up the pace and kept getting away.
Bowman got close again at Lap 71 with Jones staying close in third and Frank Kimmel (No. 44 Ansell/Menards Toyota) over a second back in fourth. The leaders had to drive behind Spencer Gallagher and Nelson Canache, who were battling for 11th on the tail end of the lead lap, and all successfully passed the duo on Lap 79 as Kimmel drove to pit road to change a busted tire.
Bowman finally passed for the lead on Lap 92, but Poole took it back the next time around. Just as Bowman took the lead again, Tom Hessert crashed to bring out another caution. ARCA officials awarded Bowman the Lap 94 lead, but he drove to pit road the next time around. Poole, pitting past the start/finish line while Bowman pitted before, officially led Lap 95, and won the race off of pit road. He held first out of the Lap 100 green flag and kept that position for several laps.
Jones was charging, though. Having started third at Lap 100, he drove by Bowman for second on Lap 108 and took the lead from Poole one lap later. Within six laps, he had a 1.778-second lead.
Dale Shearer crashed as the leaders drove on Lap 117. Buescher, who had fallen off the lead lap earlier, took the Aaron's Lucky Dog and assumed the ninth position on the lead lap behind Jones, Poole, Bowman, Matt Lofton (No. 16 Strutmasters.com Chevrolet), Mason Mingus (No. 32 Call 811 Before You Dig Toyota), Jared Marks (No. 12 Premium Energy VIP Dodge), Gallagher (No. 23 Allegiant Air Chevrolet), and Josh Williams (No. 02 Southwest Florida Cable Construction Chevrolet).
Jones led out of the Lap 123 green flag and built a 2.8-second lead on Poole by Lap 141. Bowman was just behind Poole, racing the points leader side-by-side to stay within three seconds of Jones. Nelson Canache and Larry Barford Jr. crashed on Lap 147, though, tightening the field again.
The leaders drove to pit road to close Lap 149. Among the top contenders, Jones and Lofton elected to take two tires on pit road. Bowman, Poole, and Buescher each took four, though, a choice that would prove meaningful.
Marks and Williams gambled by not pitting to assume the top two positions. Marks led Lap 150, but Jones immediately grabbed the advantage at the Lap 154 restart. He passed Williams right away and got to Marks in Turns 3 and 4. Lofton followed for second, but Bowman passed him on Lap 159 and had Jones in his sights. Poole, meanwhile, passed Lofton for third with 37 laps to go.
Bowman applied pressure to Jones five laps later, but had Poole to worry about. Bowman and Poole drove side-by-side in Turn 2 on Lap 169, which would seemingly give Jones an advantage out front. However, Bowman held Poole away and charged to the lead on Lap 170, the strength of his four-tire stop showing clearly. Poole passed Jones one lap later, setting up the final duel to the finish.
The two had to weave in and out of lapped cars over the final 30 laps, but Poole could never catch Bowman in the right place. He closed to within 0.079 second at Lap 187, but Bowman increased that advantage by a half-second over the next six laps. Pressure from Poole continued, but Poole popped a tire coming to the white flag and struggled to the finish. He held on for second but the damage handed Bowman a decisive victory over Poole and his teammate Jones.
Buescher finished fourth, just ahead of Lofton, Mingus, Gallagher, and Hackenbracht, the final drivers on the lead lap. Marks and Williams filled out the top 10, one lap off the pace.
The race lasted for one hour, 13 minutes, and 41 seconds. Poole kept the points lead over Buescher.
Road course racing is the theme once this year for the ARCA Racing Series, and next weekend is the time at New Jersey Motorsports Park's challenging Thunderbolt Raceway. Teams will practice 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. The ARCA event is one of several races scheduled over New Jersey's All-American Race Weekend presented by Global Barter Corporation.