CONCORD, N.C. — A great qualifying effort for Alex Bowman turned bad early in the going in the Queen City.
The driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, substituting for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr., posted the fastest lap in the second round of qualifying before posting a time fast enough to start second. He was also running either second or third for the first 60 laps.
On the 62nd circuit, however, Bowman suffered a right-front tire blowout going into turn 3 and slammed into the outside wall. He also collected Casey Mears in the process and brought out the second caution of the race.
After being released from the infield care center, he was asked what happened.
“Blew a tire I guess,” Bowman said. It’s really unfortunate. I hate it for these Axalta guys. Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports worked so hard. They brought a great race car here, brand new and destroyed it. Really unfortunate, but it’s not anybody’s fault. We didn’t hit anything we just must have run over something.
He was told that his tire looked like it was going down. When asked why, he said he “didn’t hit anything and it’s nobody’s fault. We just must have run something over. It’s unfortunate and I hate it for all the guys. Everyone at Hendrick Motorsports brought a great car to the race track. Again, it’s unfortunate and we are going to try and get back out there and salvage some spots.”
When asked what he saw, Mears said he didn’t know what happened to the 88.
“I just was going into the corner and I saw him come up all of a sudden,” he said. “I don’t know. It’s too bad he didn’t put us out of our misery there. We were having a rough start of it. We were just kind of hanging on and actually those guys were going by us. They either blew a right-front (tire) or had something come loose or something and came up into us.”
Both drivers left Charlotte. occupying the bottom two spots in the finishing order, with Mears taking the 40th spot.