CONCORD, N.C. – Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, drove to his career-best year in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, taking home four wins, eight top-five finishes, and 16 top-10s.
Bowman’s on-track performance demonstrated a remarkable season but it’s what the Tucson, Arizona, native and sponsor Ally did off track that helped make 2021 special for furry friends nationwide. The allies teamed up and embarked on a season-long campaign with Best Friends Animal Society to raise money and awareness for sheltered animals in NASCAR markets across the country.
The initiative started at Phoenix Raceway in March 2021 where a special scheme adorned the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet for Bowman’s hometown race. For each race from Phoenix to the end of the season, Bowman and Ally donated $1,000 each to a local Best Friends network partner. If Bowman won the race, Ally upped their donation to $10,000.
FIRST OF FOUR
It didn’t take long for the driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet to capture his first checkered flag of the season at Richmond Raceway in April 2021. Bowman played his cards right and used the correct pit strategy to stay out under the race’s final caution to take the lead on lap 391 of the 400-lap event and he never looked back.
“We just had a great race car; it’s as simple as that,” Bowman said. “Greg Ives (crew chief) and all the guys, they have to deal with me at short tracks and I drive these places really wrong. Instead of trying to make me figure it out, we went to work on getting the race car where I needed it to be. Greg has done such an amazing job at making that happen.”
A MONSTER FINISH
Bowman found himself back in victory lane just four races later. This time, he led a monumental charge to the checkered flag, leading the Hendrick Motorsports brigade to the organization’s first ever 1-2-3-4 finish.
The monster-sized accomplishment came at the hands of Bowman, who led the final 97 laps to win the race and became the second driver to win multiple races so far in 2021.
“We won Richmond (Raceway) and then had a really rough couple of weeks there,” Bowman said. “We went to some really good racetracks for us and struggled. I told the guys last week, ‘We’re still the same team that did it at Richmond.’ This is another really good place for us. I’m just so pumped for Ally. It feels right to put the 48 back in victory lane here after how many races that this car has won here.”
The last time an organization recorded a 1-2-3-4 finish was in 2005, when Roush Fenway Racing did so at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Before that, Peter Depaolo Racing accomplished the feat in both 1956 and 1957. Hendrick Motorsports is only the fourth organization to record a sweep like this.
Not only was this a historic win for the organization, but Hendrick Motorsports was now just one race victory away from tying Richard Petty Enterprises for the all-time wins record at 268 Cup Series victories.
NOT SO TRICKY
Eight days after celebrating his multiyear contract extension, Bowman and the No. 48 team took home their third checkered flag of the season at Pocono Raceway in June. The team battled hard with teammate Kyle Larson and won after the No. 5 had a tire go down on the last lap at “The Tricky Triangle.” His win tied the No. 48 team for the second-most wins through the season’s first 18 events with three victories.
“I can’t say enough about everybody at Hendrick [Motorsports] right now – the body shop, engine shop, chassis shop,” Bowman said. “Top to bottom, everybody is putting race cars on the racetrack. Greg (Ives, crew chief) and all the guys did a really good job. We didn’t run that good all day, so I’m kind of in shock.
“Always like to come to Pocono. It’s a cool place, beautiful weather, great day for a race. Heck, yeah, I’ll take it.”
LET’S GO GET A CLOCK
Despite advancing to his fourth consecutive playoffs thanks to his three wins earlier in the season, Bowman’s playoff run concluded after the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL race and did not advance to the Round of 8. Even though the championship trophy wasn’t in reach, checkered flags were.
Enter Martinsville Speedway.
Bowman raced in the top three for most of the afternoon and gained the lead with less than 10 laps left in the race. He held the top spot for the final two laps in overtime to take the checkered flag for his first Martinsville victory and fourth win of 2021.
“Yeah, definitely extremely happy to be able to get a fourth win for the 48 this year,” Bowman said. “It's been a rough couple months on us since we started the playoffs. To come here with such a fast race car, the capability of winning is awesome.”