A father and son took their championship race to the final event of the 2011 season, and both ended up with NASCAR Whelen All-American Series titles.
Teammates Andy Bozell Sr., 48 and his son Phil Bozell, 28, both of Portage, Mich., battled to the finish in Kalamazoo (Mich.) Speedway’s Outlaw Super Late Model Division point race.
Andy won his fourth NASCAR Michigan championship by 18 points over his son. Phil won his first NASCAR track championship by 42 points over his dad. NASCAR points are awarded for feature finishes only, while the speedway awards additional track points for qualifying and heat races, creating the opportunity for dual championships.
“We have respect for each other but don’t get me wrong. We raced each other hard,” Andy said. “We race on a budget and the last thing we’d want to do is tear up the first- and second-place cars.”
Andy won the state title with five wins, and 10 top fives and top 10s in 11 starts. Phil won the track championship with three wins, nine top-fives and 11 top-10s in 11 starts.
“At the end of 2010 I decided to go for the championships 110 percent in 2011,” Phil said. “We had a dream season. I didn’t expect to be running as well as we did. Until this year I always raced one of dad’s old cars.”
Both had new cars last spring and they share the same team and shop space. The twist is that the cars had different owners and were based on different chassis.
Andy drives a chassis built by Randy Sweet and owned by Kalamazoo-based Sweet Manufacturing. Phil drives a car owned by his father. That car’s chassis was built by Michigan’s Johnny Benson Jr. Benson, the 2008 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, competed at Kalamazoo early in his racing career.
“Our cars are as different as black and white,” Phil said. “With the motor and the gears, we can share some information. The set-ups aren’t even close, yet we’re running the same speed. We had two of the fastest cars at Kalamazoo all year.”
Andy has been racing for 28 years. He’s been a Saturday night regular at Kalamazoo Speedway since the track joined the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in 1989. He has 53 career feature wins and 12 Kalamazoo Outlaw Super Late Model track championships . Throughout Michigan and Indiana, he has more than 21 track championships, but around Kalamazoo, his current nickname is “12 Time.”
Phil has been racing for 14 years. After a try out Enduro race in 1997, he won the Pure Stock division championship and Rookie of the Year Award at another track in 1998. He moved to the Limited Late Model division and won the championship at Kalamazoo in 1999. He joined the Outlaw Super Late Model ranks full time in 2001.
While his dad has an impressive longtime record, Phil had an outstanding Kalamazoo season in 2011. He’s the first Outlaw Super Late Model champion to sweep wins in all four of the track’s special non-point races in the same season: the Intimidator 100, the All-Star Shootout, the Kalamazoo Klash and the Super Shoe Nationals.
“I think things turned out pretty cool myself,” Andy said. “Phil’s fist Late Model championship is special.”
While both know they are only two in the talent laden fields at Kalamazoo, the Bozells are eager for a rematch as they prepare for the new season.
“I was hoping to win the whole deal in 2011,” Phil said. “We’re both planning to go at again in 2012. Kalamazoo Speedway is where we call home.”