Chase Dowling could see it in front of him Saturday night at Seekonk Speedway.
The only obstacle separating him from his maiden NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory was Justin Bonsignore. Try as he might, however, Dowling could not find a way around the series’ point leader in the final few laps of the race, and was forced to settle for second.
“I tried everything,” said Dowling. “Starting 13th, you kind of have to go, and you can’t really wait.”
From the outset, Dowling made it clear that waiting had no place in his plan to get to the front. His climb through the field was remarkable. He was the only driver in the top-five to have qualified outside the top-10. Luckily for Dowling, there were plenty of restarts he lined up in the inside lane for, allowing him to slice his way to the front.
“I told my spotter, I said ‘It’s really key in these races to be on the bottom,'” he said. “You see some of these cars, they start up in the front, and they’re falling backwards. Stayed on the bottom, got an odd number [for the restart], got to the front.”
The 2015 rookie of the year is having by far his best start to a season, currently sitting second in the points, a mere seven markers back of Bonsignore. The Roxbury, Connecticut native has finished no worse than eighth in the four races run so far in 2018. Saturday night’s race was the first Dowling failed to lead a lap in all year.
Making Dowling feel even more confident is the fact that the next stop for the Tour, at Thompson Speedway on June 13th, is a place where he dominated back in April. In the Icebreaker 150, Dowling led the most laps of anyone, but a late-race penalty took the No. 15 team out of contention. Dowling also won the pole for the World Series 150 at Thompson last October.
“It’s a good confidence-booster,” said Dowling of the upcoming race. “We go to a track that we know we’re good and fast at. Every time we run Thompson… something happens that we couldn’t really control, so we’ll see what happens.”
If young Chase Dowling continues to perform at such a level, taking a trip to Victory Lane will become more of a matter of when than if.