After a solid rookie season in the OSCAAR Modified division, Jason Bowden is ready to go for another year.
The hype is there to get back behind the wheel, but also through the schedule changes the series has made in Delaware Speedway returning to the calendar.
“Adding Delaware will be really good,” Bowden said. “I think we’ll put on really good shows at Delaware. I think also being there with ISMA, they always draw a real big crowd, so it will be good for OSCAAR to showcase in front of that many people.”
The flat tracks seem to fit Bowden’s racing style, so it’s no surprise that Flamboro Speedway is also another event circled on his calendar.
“I really like Flamboro,” he commented. “I kind of grew up going there. I live 10 minutes away and I feel I had some good runs there last year, so I’m really excited for Flamboro.”
Heading into his second season of competition, Bowden says the goal is to get to victory lane in the heats, while making it onto the podium during the features.
“That’s kind of my goals heading in, but definitely run better in the heats,” he commented. “I feel I was very cautious in the heats last year, just trying to learn a lot which I did; but this year I need to be more aggressive and get some better finishes.”
Knowing he has to be more aggressive is something that Bowden picked up from the year, in seeing how fierce the competition is across the division. He noted the aggressiveness from the division in general was his biggest surprise of 2018.
“Very, very aggressive, very hard racing, which I wasn’t expecting that right off the bat,” he commented. “Being a rookie, I was a little tentative and just tried to keep my nose clean, which I didn’t do often enough. Just knowing going into 2019, I have to a lot more aggressive on the track for sure.”
Being able to run good in the heats will also help ensure a strong starting spot for the features, which will be important given the high likelihood of high car counts.
“I think the state of the club is very healthy,” Bowden stated. “Obviously, we had good car counts last year and from what I see and hear online from people, this year could be even more than 24 cars a night which will be tricky running consi’s and stuff like that, but it will be a good challenge.”
In looking to battle up front, Bowden feels the drivers that will be with him in the top-five will include 2018 Series Champion Cory Horner, along with the John Harper and Dale Reinhart.
“They’re all going to be strong again,” he added. “Obviously, Gary McLean when he shows up; I don’t know how many he will run but he’s obviously always strong. There are so many guys that could win any week – Chris Milwain, Gary Elliott. There’s a ton of guys that if they get in the right position, they could finish up front and hopefully I get the chance to do that myself.”
For Bowden, his interest in racing started from a young age, spending time in the shop with his father and his uncle Ron Easton as they built a Canadian Vintage Modified. His time with Ron Easton is what formed his love for modifieds, too, when Easton ran some events in the states.
“We did Lancaster (Speedway) every Saturday and a bunch of ROC races in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohswego – all those places,” he recalled. “So those years were really awesome and that’s when I really fell in love with the modified division in general.”
Through the years, he had gotten the chance to get behind the wheel of a vintage modified, but the 2018 season truly marked his first full year as a competitor.
“I’m going on 35 years of hanging around, mostly getting dirty, and playing with pliers, and filling gas in other people’s cars,” he commented. “But last year was kind of the first full year that I’ve driven my own car for a full year which was a good challenge. I learned a lot and I’m kind of disappointed in myself a little bit because I was hoping for some heat wins and top-fives in the features.
“I just put a lot of pressure on myself – I hate to lose, I like to win, and sometimes it takes my wife to keep me grounded a little bit to remind me it wasn’t all that bad.”
From the experience gained over the last several years, Bowden says the biggest piece of advice he has to the next generation of rookies is to be patient.
“I’ve always wanted to drive since the time I turned 16, and it took me 23 drivers before I finally really got the chance to do it right,” he said. “So now I’m trying to make up for lost ground, but I’m trying to get as much racing in through the next few years that I can possibly can.”
By Ashley McCubbin