The first nine races of 2019 were forgettable for Alex Bowman; however, the last two have the No. 88 team looking good.
At Talladega Superspeedway, the 26-year-old finished runner-up to his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott, scoring his first top-five of the season. However, it will be what he accomplished Monday at Dover International Speedway that will get people talking.
Bowman, who failed pre-race inspection and had to start the Gander RV 400 from the rear, quickly worked his way through the field, finishing seventh in Stage 1.
Although impressive, it was the second stage that solidified him as a contender.The Arizona-native would come close to his first playoff point ever, before being passed by eventual race-winner Martin Truex Jr in the closing moments of the stage.
Bowman would remain near the front for the rest of the day, before capturing a second-place finish. While a great recovery, the Hendrick Motorsports driver still wanted more despite the result.
“It would be better if we had a trophy, right?” Bowman said. “But, we needed this, for sure. Talladega is a speedway and it’s a lot of luck involved. But to come here to, in my opinion, the hardest race track we go do, and run like that from the back of all things, was pretty special. I’m just proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for all the improvement we’ve made over the last year or so and we’re going to keep it going.”
If he is able to continue the momentum, Bowman may not have to wait long for his first taste of winning in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. In fact, this recent surge may be coming at the perfect time given his recent history.
The upcoming summer stretch proved to be critical for Bowman a year ago, with six top-10’s during the time from Kansas Speedway to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The strength shown during this time would go on to earn him a spot in the playoffs. The upcoming schedule is identical to 2018 and could set up perfectly for the No. 88 team.
It would not be the first time a Hendrick team caught fire and found victory lane, just look at Bowman’s teammate. Elliott, last year found himself in a similar position, often falling just shy of victory lane before winning three races later in the season.
The question is – can Bowman do the same? If Monday is an indication of where this team is at, then the answer should be yes, though time will tell if he is able to turn this success into consistency.
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