Overcoming myriad challenges last Sunday, from a backup car that sent him to the rear of the field to an early-race spin and even an illness that saw him checked and released from the infield care center after the race, Alex Bowman raced his way to a runner-up finish and a berth in the Round of 12 in the playoffs when all was said and done at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “roval.”
“He just refused to lose,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said of the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. “When you think about where he came from and finished second, that was unbelievable. Proud of him.”
After the race, Bowman shared that he had been sick for most of the week and it caused him to get behind on staying hydrated and left him exhausted after the checkered flag waved on a 90-plus-degree day.
But he didn’t let that keep him from battling all the way through the finish line to accomplish his team’s goals.
It was made all the more impressive by the mounting pressure caused by the rapidly shifting playoff standings as the laps wound down. Ultimately, he was the 12th and final driver to move on to the next round with a five-point cushion above the cut-off line.
“I think coming away from this race, he’s going to have a lot of confidence going into Dover because I kept hearing the guys tell him where he was, two points ahead, one point behind, three points, got to pass this guy, you’ve got to pass that guy,” Hendrick said. “On this track, that is the most treacherous track that I’ve seen these cars run on. If you make a mistake, you’re in big trouble. I’m real proud of his performance.”
This weekend’s trip to Dover International Speedway kicks off a three-race Round of 12 that also includes trips to Talladega Superspeedway and Kansas Speedway. Bowman finished second at all three tracks in three consecutive weeks earlier this season, and the average finish of 2.0 ranks first among all drivers at the tracks in 2019.
The driver is looking forward to the task at hand in an effort to move on to the Round of 8, and Hendrick is looking forward to seeing what he and the No. 88 team can accomplish.
“He’s got talent, and he’s got heart,” the owner said. “Alex is committed. He’s 100 percent in. (No. 88 team crew chief) Greg (Ives), that’s such a good team. I’m excited to see where they’re going to go here in the next round.”