Despite leading 132 laps, Chase Dowling was unable to close the deal in the Fall Final 150 at Stafford Sunday afternoon.
It became clear from the drop of the green flag that Dowling, the polesitter had by far the best car in the field. Even with all of the cautions, Dowling continued to have the pace to stay in front.
It was pit strategy that was the undoing of Dowling. The team chose to stay out under each of the yellow flags, even as the rest of the field came down pit road to take on fresh rubber. By the time Anthony Nocella stopped on the racetrack on lap 120, the team was in a rather undesirable position. Not only were they the only team up front with old tires, it was unlikely that three fresh ones would’ve gotten the team back to the front.
“Probably pitted for new tires,” Dowling told Short Track Scene when asked what the team could’ve done differently. “Either that or just hope for not having another caution at the end there… I wasn’t really killing my tires, but I knew I had to go, because they [on fresh tires] were coming.”
Dowling lost the lead on lap 133 and slipped through the field as cars with more grip continued to pressure him. By the time the checkered flag flew for race winner Kyle Bonsignore, Dowling had fallen back to fourth.
Five times in 2018 has Dowling led at least 50 laps. Only once has he gone to victory lane, and that’s frustrated the No. 15 team.
“Just came up short again,” Dowling said. “If anyone wants to look at our season, just look up this race. Every single race we’ve run this year, we had something happen like this, where we get beat on strategy or the opposite way around… If Nocella didn’t stop on the track, we would’ve been in good shape. I think we would’ve won, because we were extremely ahead at that point.”
With Justin Bonsignore having clinched the title, the World Series 150 in two weeks’ time is all about getting win number two on 2018 for Chase Dowling.