Bowman Wins ARCA Herr’s Live Life With Flavor 200 At Madison

“Rookie mistakes” didn’t stop Tucson’s Alex Bowman from capturing his first major stock car win Friday night as he survived a frantic final three laps to win the ARCA Herr’s Live Life with Flavor 200 at Madison International Speedway.

Bowman, who usually runs in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East, led the final 59 laps in his Venturini St, Jude Research Hospital Toyota after overcoming pit stop problems that made his winning run more challenging. And did we mention some brake problems?

Despite his self-proclaimed issues, the final ten laps found Bowman in the lead, followed closely by the three strongest cars on the track; eighteen-year-old Jack Roush development driver Chris Buescher, pole-winner Clint King and series’ points-leader Ty Dillon. But a caution flag for a spin on lap 194 set up the final three-lap sprint for the win.

“I spun the tires on the last restart-a rookie error. These cars are more powerful than what I usually run,” said Bowman who also has a background in midget racing. “Earlier there had been some oil in the lower groove so I was able to get to the upper line and hold off Chris (Buescher.)

But behind them, King and Dillon were hoping for contact by the leaders: something that didn’t happen, as the final run was completed without incident and with no change in position.

“We were close at the end, but we had lost some forward bite on the car,” Buescher said of his Reliance Tool-David Ragan Ford. “I needed a little bit more there at the end, but Alex got to the high side and that was it for us.”

King, who was celebrating his sixteenth birthday at the track, survived an earlier spin that was not of his making; a spin that made his run to the front in his Venturini Warehouse Design Chevrolet more difficult. “I finally got up front and then got wrecked by the 31 car (Tim George Jr.). He wrecked me in late models and he got me again here. I had to come back through the field, but I ran out of time and I burned up my tires going from 15th to 3rd,” complained the series’ youngest- ever pole winner. “We were just as good as the # 55 car (Bowman): Everyone knew we were here.”

Dillon, who has seven ARCA series wins already this season, was slowed by a penalty for driving past a stop sign on pit road following a stop on lap 157. That call sent him and Childress Racing teammate George to the rear where they spent the final laps trying to catch up with the lead group. “I don’t know if they can explain that call to us. To put us in the back twice (the other was for speeding on pit road) was too much. We were being patient, riding in second, knowing we’d be there at the end,” noted Childress’ grandson. “I’m happy but upset at the same time.”

Passing was difficult for the leaders all night on the banked half-mile, as lapped traffic posed problems for the 33 starters as did oil in the bottom lane. Thirteen caution periods for minor spins took any rhythm from the race that averaged a slow 58.344 mph.

And after Bowman’s win he was still noting all of his problems: “On our first stop I didn’t know whether I should come in or not. So I had to stop and back up. Then we had overheating problems and had to add water also.” And the brake trouble? “We pretty much didn’t have any brakes from the get-go. I had to pump them down the straightaway to get through the corner. The rotors were warped.”

Kind of makes you wonder how he won!

• This was ARCA’s first race at MIS since 1973and drew a reasonable crowd despite an 8:30 start. There was also TV competition from the Brewers, Packers and NASCAR as well as the first night of local high school football. The drivers were very complimentary of the track and hoped for a return in 2012. It certainly would have helped the gate if the powers-that-be had been able to put Ross Kenseth in a competitive ARCA car. Maybe next time.

• ARCA president Ron Draeger said that the series’ 2012 schedule would likely be similar to 2011, but noted that they were talking to Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, GA and Mobile International Speedway about running events in spring after Daytona.

• The entry list at Madison showed a diverse field of 33 drivers from 20 states and one foreign country ;Milka Duno, Venezuela

• The youngest driver in the field was pole-winner Clint King, 16, while the oldest was 77 year-old James Hylton- a gap of sixty-one years. And both celebrated their birthdays Friday at Madison.

• Former Milwaukee Mile PR director Jim Tretow, who contributes to ARCA coverage on Speed TV, did PA work at Madison despite the event not having been televised.

• Many in attendance hoped that the race could be run on a Sunday next season. This would avoid potential conflicts with the Packers and high school football.

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