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Bowman to make 300th Cup career start at Dover

In his ninth full-time season as a NASCAR Cup Series competitor, Alex Bowman is primed to achieve a milestone start. By taking the green flag in this upcoming weekend’s Cup event at Dover Motor Speedway, the driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will reach career start No. 300 in NASCAR’s premier series. 

A native of Tucson, Arizona, Bowman made his inaugural presence in the Cup Series at the start of the 2014 season. By then, he was coming off his full-time season in the Xfinity Series with RAB Racing and had conducted a Preseason Thunder test with BK Racing at Daytona International Speedway in January, which was enough for him to earn a full-time ride in BKR’s No. 23 Toyota Camry entry. Starting 29th for the 56th running of the Daytona 500 after earning a transfer spot for the main event, Bowman finished 23rd in his Cup debut. He would proceed to earn a season-best 13th-place result at Daytona in July, 11 top-30 results and an average-finishing result of 32.6 throughout the 36-race schedule before ending up in 35th place in the final driver’s standings and in sixth place for the Rookie-of-the-Year battle.  

In 2015, Bowman joined forces with Tommy Baldwin Racing to pilot the team’s No. 7 Chevrolet SS. After not qualifying for the 57th running of the Daytona 500 due to being involved in a multi-car wreck during the second Daytona Duel event and not securing a transfer spot for the main event, he finished 23rd in his first start of the season during the schedule’s following event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He would proceed to notch a season-best 16th-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway in May, a total of 13 top-30 results and an average-finishing result of 31.6 before settling in 33rd place in the final standings. 

At the start of the 2016 season, Bowman lost his Cup Series ride at Tommy Baldwin Racing to Regan Smith. Then, after making five starts with JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, he returned to the Cup circuit in July as an interim competitor for the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS piloted by two-time Daytona 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was absent after suffering concussion-like symptoms.

In his first event in HMS’ No. 88 Chevrolet at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Bowman spent the majority of the event running in the top 10 until a cut left-rear tire with 29 laps remaining sent the Arizona native into the outside wall entering Turn 1 and down to a 26th-place finish when the checkered flag flew. He would proceed to finish 30th, 10th, 14th, 39th, seventh, 36th and 13th, respectively, during his next seven starts while sharing the No. 88 ride with four-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon.

At Phoenix Raceway in November, Bowman commenced the weekend by achieving his first Cup career pole position. He led a race-high 194 laps and was in contention for the victory until a late overtime incident, where he sent title contender Matt Kenseth spinning into the outside wall and relegated him to a career-best sixth place in the final running order. Bowman concluded the season by finishing 16th at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 

In 2017, Bowman made a single Cup Series start in the non-points Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona in February as he returned to pilot Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Chevrolet. During the event, he dodged a final lap incident involving Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski to battle with Kyle Busch on the final lap before being edged by Busch and settling in third place. Five months later, Bowman was announced as Earnhardt Jr.’s successor of the No. 88 HMS entry for the 2018 Cup season after Earnhardt Jr. announced his retirement three months earlier. 

Piloting the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet entry, Bowman commenced the season by winning the pole position for the 60th running of the Daytona 500 and nabbing the fourth consecutive 500 pole in recent seasons for Hendrick Motorsports. Ultimately, he would finish 17th during the 500 after being involved in a late multi-car wreck. Throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch, he notched a season-best third-place finish at Pocono Raceway in July along with a fifth-place result at Bristol Motor Speedway in April and a total of nine top-10 results, which was enough for him to grab the 16th and final berth to the 2018 Cup Series Playoffs based on points.

He also made his first career start in the All-Star Race after winning the first stage over Erik Jones in the All-Star Open, where he would finish 21st during the main event following a late incident. After finishing 19th, 12th and fourth, respectively, throughout the Round of 16, he transferred to the Round of 12. However, he was unable to transfer into the Round of 8 following respective finishes of 28th, 33rd and ninth throughout the Round of 12. For the final four events on the schedule, Bowman finished no higher than 14th before settling in 16th place in the final standings. By then, he had surpassed 100 career starts in NASCAR’s premier series. 

The following season, Bowman began the season by finishing 11th during the 61st running of the Daytona 500 after starting on the front row. He finished no higher than 11th twice during the first nine events on the schedule before notching three consecutive runner-up results at Talladega, Dover Motor Speedway and at Kansas Speedway, respectively. The results were also enough for him to achieve the Fan Vote title and earn the final transfer spot into the All-Star Race at Charlotte in May, where he finished eighth.

Five races later, Bowman scored his first Cup career victory in his 134th series start at Chicagoland Speedway following a late battle with Kyle Larson. Larson overtook Bowman for the lead with eight laps remaining before Bowman reassumed it for good two laps later. The Arizona native also became the 17th different competitor to win while driving for Hendrick Motorsports. He notched the first victory for HMS’ No. 88 entry since Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Phoenix in 2015. Despite finishing no higher than 10th during the final nine regular-season events, Bowman’s Chicagoland victory guaranteed him a spot in the Playoffs for a second consecutive season.

With respective finishes of sixth, 23rd and second throughout the Round of 16, Bowman was able to grab the final transfer spot into the Round of 12. Amid respective finishes of third, 37th and 11th throughout the Round of 12, however, he was eliminated from title contention. Managing a single top-five result and two top-10 results during the final four events on the schedule, Bowman settled in 12th place in the final standings. By then, he had recorded 200 laps led throughout the season, seven top-five results, 12 top-10 results and a career-best average-finishing result of 14.4. 

After commencing the 2020 Cup season by finishing 24th during the 62nd running of the Daytona 500 despite starting on the front row and ending up in 13th place during the following event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Bowman stormed to the competition by notching his second Cup career win at Auto Club Speedway in March after leading a race-high 110 of 200 laps.

Amid a season mired by the COVID-19 pandemic, he proceeded to secure a strong runner-up result at Darlington Raceway in May along with a total of three top-fives and eight top-10 throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch, which was enough for him to make his third consecutive Playoffs. With four additional top-10 results and by finishing no lower than 16th during the first six Playoff events, Bowman transferred from the Round of 16 to the Round of 8. Despite achieving respective finishes of third, fifth and sixth throughout the Round of 8, he missed the cutline to make the Championship 4 round. Nonetheless, Bowman proceeded to finish 16th during the finale at Phoenix and achieve a career-best sixth-place result in the final standings. He also achieved a career-high 440 laps led, a total of 15 top-10 results and an average-finishing result of 14.7. 

The 2021 Cup season was a breakout season for Bowman, who remained as a Hendrick Motorsports competitor for a fourth consecutive season but was piloting the No. 48 alongside his entry after seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson retired from full-time NASCAR competition. Bowman began the season by notching his second Daytona 500 pole position before finishing 35th during the main event after being eliminated in an early multi-car wreck.

Then after finishing no higher than third and recording three top-10 results during the first eight events on the schedule, he achieved his first victory of the season and the third of his career at Richmond Raceway in April after overtaking Denny Hamlin with 10 laps remaining. With the victory, Bowman achieved the first Cup win for HMS’ No. 48 entry since Jimmie Johnson won at Dover Motor Speedway in 2017. Ironically, Bowman scored his second victory of the season at Dover four races later as he led both 98 laps amid a historic 1-2-3-4 finish for Hendrick Motorsports. Another five races later, Bowman capitalized on a final lap cut tire and incident involving teammate Kyle Larson to score a third Cup victory of the season at Pocono Raceway in June.

After concluding the regular-season stretch with four top-10 results, Bowman finished 26th, 12th and fifth throughout the Round of 16, which was enough for him to transfer into the Round of 12. His title hopes, however, evaporated following respective finishes of 22nd, 38th and 10th during the Round of 12. He proceeded to notch a career-high fourth victory of the season at Martinsville Speedway in October after a late run-in with Denny Hamlin and settle in 14th place in the final standings. In total, Bowman’s 2021 Cup season was a season where he achieved career-high stats in victories (four), top fives (eight) and top 10s (16) with an average-finishing result of 15.1. He had also surpassed 200 Cup career starts.

After starting on the front row for the Daytona 500 for a fifth consecutive season and finishing within the top 25 during the first two events of the 2022 Cup season, Bowman rallied by fending off teammate Larson during an overtime shootout to claim his seventh Cup career win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March. He finished second at Circuit of the Americas in March and notched a total of three top-five results and 10 top-10 results throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch before the Playoffs commenced, with Bowman making his fifth consecutive appearance in the postseason title battle.

With respective finishes of 10th, fourth and 32nd throughout the Round of 16, Bowman managed to race his way into the Round of 12. During the Round of 12 opener at Texas Motor Speedway, however, Bowman was involved in a hard accident just past the halfway mark and suffered concussion-like symptoms that would prevent him from competing in the following five events and eliminate him from title contention. He received medical clearance to compete in the finale at Phoenix, where he finished 34th on the track before settling in 16th place in the final standings.  

This past season, Bowman began the season by claiming his third Daytona 500 pole position and extending his front starting streak in the Great American Race to six consecutive seasons. He finished fifth in the main event after dodging a final lap multi-car wreck. Despite Bowman’s team being hit with two different level penalties during pre-race and post-race inspection issues stemming from Phoenix and Richmond that resulted in the driver losing two crew chiefs, both of whom were also hit with hefty fines,

Bowman recorded two third-place results and a total of four top-10 results during the first 10 events on the schedule. Then in late April, Bowman was involved in a Sprint Car accident in West Burlington, Iowa, and injured his back and was absent for four events, including the All-Star Race. Despite returning at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600 in May, where he finished 12th, Bowman finished no higher than fifth and sixth during the final 13 regular-season events on the schedule and missed the Playoffs for the first time as a full-time Cup competitor. Although his title hopes for the 2023 season evaporated early, he accumulated two additional top-10 results throughout the 10-race Playoff stretch before managing to settle in 20th place in the final standings. 

Bowman, who is currently in his fourth season driving the No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, began the 2024 campaign by finishing in the runner-up spot behind teammate William Byron in the 66th running of the Daytona 500. He has since finished in the top eight four times during his previous nine starts, including a recent fifth-place result at Talladega, and is currently ranked in 14th place in the current driver’s standings and trails the regular-season points lead by 107 points. 

Through 299 previous Cup starts, Bowman has achieved seven victories, four poles, 36 top-five results, 84 top-10 results, 1,307 laps led and an average-finishing result of 19.7. 

Alex Bowman is scheduled to make his 300th Cup Series career start at Dover Motor Speedway for the Würth 400 on Sunday, April 28. The event’s broadcast time is set to occur at 2 p.m. ET on FS1. 

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


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