Victory Eludes Dominant Bowman at Phoenix

Alex Bowman had a dominant day in the Valley of the Sun from start to finish, but it wasn’t enough for the native son to score his first series victory.

The weekend started off with a bang for the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet after he claimed his first Sprint Cup Series pole.

He put on a performance reminiscent of what Kevin Harvick had come to deliver the last few years at Phoenix International Raceway, leading 194 circuits on three different stints.

He lost the lead for good after a two-car wreck brought out the sixth caution of the race with 56 laps to go with Denny Hamlin opting not to pit, he still played a factor in who won the race.

On the run to the checkered flag in the final 40 lap, Bowman had the strongest car in the field. He was passing cars with ease and cutting into Matt Kenseth’s lead by the time he made it to second with less than 20 to go, but the almost four-second gap wasn’t shrinking fast enough and his chance at victory were fading.

Michael McDowell wrecking out with two to go gave him one more shot to earn his first victory.

On the restart in overtime, however, he got blocked down next to the wall by Kyle Busch and ended up punting Kenseth into the wall, ending his chances at racing for the championship.

“We had a great car. We took four there and restarted on the bottom twice. Our car didn’t really take off on restarts all day long very well, so had to make our way back up through there, and we got to second at the end and had that caution come out, and didn’t get a terrible restart, and the 18 turned me sideways getting into the corner, and I ‑‑ I don’t know, it almost feels like ‑‑ I almost feel like the 20 thought he was clear because I was against the ‑‑ I wasn’t at the best angle but I was also against the inside wall when we made contact. I guess he said something on the radio that he thought he was clear,” Bowman said in his post-race press conference.

“I hate it for Matt. You take somebody out like that. I would have raced the hell out of him for the win, but definitely don’t want to do that.”

He didn’t make much ground on the final restart and came home sixth.

It still ended up being his best career finish and the 194 laps led were the most of any Hendrick Motorsports driver, other than Jimmie Johnson, since Jeff Gordon at Martinsville Speedway in October of 2014.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

Tucker White
Tucker White
I've followed NASCAR for well over 20 years of my life, both as a fan and now as a member of the media. As of 2024, I'm on my ninth season as a traveling NASCAR beat writer. For all its flaws and dumb moments, NASCAR at its best produces some of the best action you'll ever see in the sport of auto racing. Case in point: Kyle Larson's threading the needle pass at Darlington Raceway on May 9, 2021. On used-up tires, racing on a worn surface and an aero package that put his car on the razor's edge of control, Larson demonstrated why he's a generational talent. Those are the stories I want to capture and break down. In addition to NASCAR, I also follow IndyCar and Formula 1. As a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I'm a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan (especially in regards to Tennessee football). If covering NASCAR doesn't kill me, down the road, watching Tennessee football will. I'm also a diehard fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I lived long enough to see them win a World Series for the first time since 1995 (when I was just a year old). I've also sworn my fan allegiance to the Nashville Predators, though that's not paid out as much as the Braves. Furthermore, as a massive sports dork, I follow the NFL on a weekly basis. Though it's more out of an obligation than genuine passion (for sports dorks, following the NFL is basically an unwritten rule). Outside of sports, I'm a major cinema buff and a weeb. My favorite film is "Blazing Saddles" and my favorite anime is "Black Lagoon."

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