TALLADEGA, Ala – Both Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott had high hopes heading into this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the Talladega Superspeedway. Elliott, led Bowman across the finish line in the spring race on the 2.66-mile Alabama race track as Chevrolet appears to have the preferred package on superspeedway’s now.
Then, Saturday happened, which further staked their claim for a race win in the 1000Bulbs.com 500.
Hendrick Motorsports qualified 1-2-3-4 with Elliott and Bowman sharing the front row. They’d run up front for most of the first half of the rain delayed event, but a crash on Lap 106 ruined really dashed their hopes of advancing to the Round of 8.
Bowman, had a great race car under him. So much so, his No. 88 Chevrolet was in the lead with four laps remaining in Stage 2. But, his lead was too big and when Clint Bowyer moved to push Joey Logano hard down the backstretch, it gave Logano a big run on Bowman. In turn, Bowman tried to counter that run and move to block Logano, which proved costly to him.
Bowman, spun ahead of the pack as he went from below the line in Turn 3 to spinning back up the track and up the banking in front of all 40 drivers running. It ended as bad as it sounds.
He collected two of his teammates in Elliott and Jimmie Johnson as well as Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Michael McDowell and Ryan Preece.
“I just misjudged how much of a run the 22 had there,” Bowman said after coming out of the infield care center. “That’s on me. … Probably shouldn’t have attempted to block that. … It’s a bummer that we were in it.”
While most had damage, only Bowman, Johnson and Larson weren’t able to continue on. Elliott, had a badly damaged skew to his No. 9 Chevrolet which also affected his finish. While he continued on and even had a good car towards the end, he finished eighth.
Bowman later added that “the only person I have to be made at is myself. So pretty frustrated with myself, but nothing new there.”
Overall, six of the 12 playoff drivers were collected in the crash as Bowman and Elliott had the most to lose.
Bowman, came into this race +17 in the standings but his eight stage points scored in the opening stage help minimize the blow. He’s 18 points out with one race remaining in the round.
Elliott, was -7 and falls to -22.
It was a costly day for them as with the way they sit, they’re going to struggle to get both cars into the third round. Realistically, they need to win Kansas.
Good news is, Bowman finished second at Kansas in May while Elliott won this race last year. He also has three top four finishes in his last four Kansas starts.