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M1 Racing's Bowlin Has Solid Outing in Utah
In Preparation for 2015
Pirelli World Challenge Campaign

TOOELE, Utah, Sept. 15 - M1 Racing's Walt Bowlin of Tarpon Springs, Fla., used the 2014 season finale of the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge series on Friday and Saturday at Miller Motorsports Park as preparation for a full effort in that series in 2015. His main objective was simply to gain experience in this form of racing, and he came away with an eighth-place finish on Friday and a ninth on Saturday in the GT-A class with his Tampa Bay Jaw Surgery Centers Audi R8 LMS ultra in twin 50-minute races.

Bowlin started 21st overall and eighth in class in Friday afternoon's race after he posted a lap in 1:55.948 (94.635 miles per hour) in qualifying Friday morning for the 3.048-mile outer course. 

The race got off to a rocky start when some cars had mechanical difficulties and other just stalled during the always-chaotic standing start. Bowlin masterfully missed the carnage and was still ninth in class after the cars with problems were towed back to the garage area and the action resumed on lap five. 

The class leader, Tim Pappas, reportedly suffered a broken engine drive belt on his Mercedes working lap eight. His departure allowed Bowlin to edge up one more spot to eighth in class. At that point he was 19th overall, and he quickly became embroiled in a battle with the Dodge Viper of Louis-Philippe Montour that lasted the rest of the race.  Bowlin posted his fastest lap of the race at this point with a 1:55.821 on lap nine.

With about 19 minutes to go Bowlin passed Montour to move into 18th overall. Another Dodge Viper, this one driven by fellow GT-A driver Dan Knox, was directly ahead of him and Montour was trying to find a way back by him at the same time.

Montour finally slipped by working lap 17, but Bowlin was still eighth in class because Montour doesn't compete in his class. He was eighth in class and 19th overall at the checkered.

"I had a good start in Race 1," Bowlin said. "I passed several cars but then I had an issue with the traction control on my car down into Turn 5, which allowed several cars to repass me.

"The yellow flag came out, and on the rolling restart I got past several GTS cars. I battled the rest of the race with the Viper."

Bowlin started 23rd overall and ninth in the GT-A class on Saturday. He had a terrific standing start, passing five cars to nab third in class in the early going. Unfortunately he then spun in Turn 11, but he was able to refire the Audi without bringing out a full-course caution. He rejoined the field in 41st place, some 45 seconds behind the driver in front of him, Buz McCall. 

From that point on he simply concentrated on hitting his marks, improving his personal lap times and seeing how far back up the grid he could get. He ran a lap in 1:56.132 on lap six and methodically began passing GTS cars. There were no full-course cautions in the 50-minute race to help close up the field's advantage, but Bowlin was up to 35th place overall by lap 10 with 27 minutes left in the race and 29th overall by lap 19 with about 11 minutes remaining.

Near the end of the race Bowlin was able to pass many of the top GTS drivers. He posted his best lap of the race on lap 24 with a 1:55.752 while catching and passing veteran Jack Baldwin, which is never easy due to Baldwin's vast experience. Bowlin reached the back of the GT-A field at the end and finished right behind that class's eighth-place finisher, Brent Holden, in another Audi R8. 

"I had a monster start in Race 2 and passed five cars, getting into the top three in my class on the start," Bowlin related. "Then in Turn 11 I carried too

much brake into the corner and spun. It was very disappointing. We were running up near the front of my class at the time. 

"I then used the rest of the race as a test session to improve my times. It took four to five laps to get the tires clean. My fastest time was at the end of the race. I was running the same times as everyone in my class at that point.

"Even though we did not finish well, the times came down and there was a great improvement," Bowlin summarized. "I would like to thank Guy Cosmo for his coaching efforts this weekend. I would also like to thank Paul Mata and the crew at M1 Racing for preparing a really good race car. I think it was a good effort in preparation for the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge season."

The Miller Motorsports Park races will air at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time Sunday, Sept. 28 on the NBC Sports Network. There will also be a rerun of NBC Sports' coverage at 10 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, Oct. 2. After the initial airing the races will also be available on world-challengetv.com.

Additional information is available on the series' Web site at world-challenge.com. The Dallas-based team's Web site is at m1racing.co and the team also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account.