By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
The veteran NASCAR Cup Series driver took the lead on a restart halfway into Stage 2. Bowman cruised to a Stage victory, his second of the season. Then his Greg Ives-led pit crew kept him in front after pit stops during the Stage break. The Tucson, AZ native initially pulled away from the field at the start of the final Stage.
With Hendrick teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson behind him, Bowman built up a 1.5-second lead. However, as they battled, it allowed Bubba Wallace to swing by. Recapturing the speed it had in the Spring Kansas race, the driver of the No. 45 quickly ran down the driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro SS. Late into the run, the handling faded, allowing Wallace to slip by for the lead.
During green flag pit stops Bowman briefly led. After the cycle completed, the 29-year-old cycled back to fourth after starting the cycle in third. Bowman remained in fourth until the checkered flag, holding off non-Playoff driver Martin Truex Jr for the spot.
“We had a good day for our No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1,” explained Bowman. “Proud of all of my guys. We had a good weekend. Obviously, we didn’t want to throw those stage points away in stage one like we did, but we overcame that in a hurry. I’m just proud of Greg (Ives) and the guys. We had a great racecar. The last 15-laps of a run is where we would fall off and get beat, but I’m still proud of all of the guys. We ended up with a solid points day.”
The speed in Bowman’s No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro was apparent throughout the weekend. He was ninth fastest in practice and followed that up with a third-place qualifying effort, his best since her started on the outside pole for the season opening Daytona 500.
Though Bowman quickly shot out to the lead, he slipped back after the competition caution. Ultimately, he fell out of the top-10 by the end of the first Stage, losing out on Stage points.
The fourth-place finish is Bowman’s fourth top-five of the season. It’s his 28th career top-five in the Cup Series. It was also just the fourth time in Bowman’s career that he led over 100 laps in a single race. Though it’s the third time that he’s led over 100 laps and failed to win.
The top-five finish moved Bowman up from 10th to sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. He is 28-points behind leader Christopher Bell and 28 ahead of cutoff, currently held by Austin Cindric. He is 30-points ahead of the first driver currently outside of the cutline, two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch.
Next for the Cup Series is the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 17 on USA Network. The race will also be broadcasted on the radio on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by Rachel Schuoler / Kickin’ the Tires.