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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – As the 2009 champions from across North America take the stage for the NASCAR Touring Series Awards Gala in Concord, N.C., on Saturday, Nov. 14, Jason Bowles will be more than 2,000 miles away. But the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Series West champion has a great excuse: He’ll be driving in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.
For Bowles, who parlayed a victory at Phoenix this spring in the NASCAR Camping World Series event to his first championship, the chance to take the next step and run in the Able Body Labor 200 is an opportunity too good to pass up. Bowles, who has finished third, second and first in consecutive years in the NASCAR Camping World Series West, is hoping a good run at a familiar track will open more doors for the 2010 season.
“Jason certainly opened some eyes with his championship performance this year,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR managing director of racing operations. “The NASCAR ladder system is designed to help drivers progress up toward their ultimate goals, and this is a great example of a driver getting a chance to prove himself at the next level after having success in our top developmental series. We wish Jason the best of luck at Phoenix.”
While he will have to cut his banquet week short to make it back out West, Bowles will still attend many of the functions during the week planned for the champions, including the Second Annual NASCAR Toyota ‘Champions/Media Karting’ Showdown presented by SIRIUS XM Radio on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at Victory Lane Karting in Charlotte, N.C., as well as the Champions Dinner at Sam Bass Gallery that evening, and the Jim Hunter Golf Tournament at Highland Creek Golf Club Wednesday, Nov. 11.
“I have mixed emotions,” Bowles said. “We worked hard all season to bring home that championship trophy, and I look forward to taking part in the festivities and meeting all the NASCAR champions. As much as I’d like to be on that stage Saturday night, this is why I race and this is what I need to use this championship for. This might open the door for other opportunities and hopefully create some more for 2010.”
Bowles will be driving the No. 61 Specialty Racing Ford for car owner Doug Taylor.
“I’m really excited about this,” Bowles said. “I’m happy to have my first NASCAR Nationwide Series race at a track I know and have had success at. I really have to thank Doug and Charlie from Specialty Racing. I also need to give a special thanks for Robby Benton from RAB Racing for really helping put this together.”
Bowles had three wins, 10 top fives and 12 top 10s for Bob Bruncati in the NASCAR Camping World Series in 2009, winning the championship by 123 points over two-time champion Eric Holmes. Bowles picked up his first win of the season in the Jimmie Johnson Foundation 150 presented by Shamrock Farms at Phoenix in April – the third event of the season.
On Saturday, Nov. 14, the NASCAR Touring Series Awards Gala will begin at 7 p.m. ET; the Able Body Labor 200 is scheduled to take the green flag at 5:30 p.m. ET