How Alex Bowman came away with two victories at Chicago

by lisettetylor897

The permanent win was the one on the track as he ended a frustrating 80-race winless streak by holding off Tyler Reddick to win on the 2.2-mile, 12-turn course through the Grant Park area of downtown Chicago.

For the second consecutive year, the race was cut short by darkness as teams had to wait out a one hour, 45-minute rain delay in the second stage.

Once again, the race saw the use of wet weather tires and it was the decision of Bowman’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team to keep him on those tires rather than change to new slicks that helped provide the victory.

Timing is everything

The win couldn’t come at a better time for the 31-year-old native of Tucson, Ariz., for several reasons. The most obvious being he is now locked in the 2024 playoffs and no longer the only Hendrick driver without a win.

“It’s not been a lot of fun. We won four races in ’21. We won right off the bat in ’22. Then we had a rough summer in ’22 and then we got back rolling and then I got hurt and we started ’23 really fast and I got hurt again,” Bowman said after the race.

“Yeah, it’s really difficult. Obviously, we have all the tools we need to win, and our teammates have been really good throughout that time. But we just couldn’t put it together.

“Honestly, the last month has been super frustrating for us. We’ve had a lot of things outside of our control, cost us a lot of points, and it’s been really frustrating.”

Race winner Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Ally Chevrolet Camaro

Race winner Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Ally Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images

While without a win, Bowman had been as high as eighth in the series standings as recently as the end of May, and in a solid position to make the playoffs based on points.

However, with one finish better than 14th since, he had lost considerable ground entering last weekend’s race.

That scenario is now irrelevant, and Bowman and his team can focus on putting themselves in the best position possible for when the playoffs begin.

Bowman’s more temporary victory on Sunday was on his detractors, who always seem question his longevity at Hendrick because he doesn’t own championships like teammates Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson or the wins of teammate William Byron.

During his more than two-year winless drought, Bowman has also suffered a back injury from a wreck while driving a sprint car and suffered a concussion in an accident in a Cup race.

“I think you need to win races if you’re at HMS. But certainly, nobody has made me feel like I’m on the hot seat,” said Bowman, who has a contract that goes through the 2026 season.

“There’s never been a single conversation with a single person that has questioned anything to do with that at all. It’s always been, ‘What do you need? How can we help you? How can we support the team?’

“That’s the great part about Hendrick Motorsports is whatever the noise is outside, everybody inside is never going to tear each other down. They’re always going to be supportive.”

Is it enough?

For one week – or maybe just a few days – Bowman has conquered the noise.

Hendrick Motorsports drivers will now make up one-fourth of the 16-driver playoff field and Bowman has the shortest current winless streak of any driver in the series (zero).

But that certainly won’t last. Even if Bowman should win additional races this season, there will be those who think it’s not enough.

He doesn’t need their validation but for at least one day he enjoyed getting the best of them.

“As a human being, I’m just a dude trying to do my job the best I possibly can, and I see everything that gets said about me,” he said. “So, to be able to overcome what I’ve gone through and to end up back here, it feels really good.

“I didn’t need it. Certainly, a lot in my life that I don’t need. I’m just appreciative of it.”

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