AVONDALE, Ariz. – Alex Bowman didn’t take his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole position for granted at Phoenix International Raceway.
He used his position at the front of the pack to dominate Sunday’s race, leading 194 laps along the way. But a late-race caution saw Bowman lose the lead, and even after racing back to the runner-up spot as the race went to overtime, an incident derailed his run back to the race lead.
Ultimately, Bowman still led his Hendrick Motorsports teammates to the checkered flag in sixth.
He was joined inside the top 10 by Chase Elliott, who earned a ninth-place result. Kasey Kahne was next to finish in 13th, and Jimmie Johnson took home a 38th-place finish after a late-race incident.
Johnson had already clinched his spot in the Championship 4, and will compete for his seventh Sprint Cup trophy next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Joey Logano earned the win.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Rolling off the grid 13th, Kahne needed just 40 laps to jump inside the top 10. Before he made a green-flag pit stop, Kahne had advanced to seventh. But when a caution flag flew in the middle of the cycle of green-flag stops, Kahne was trapped a lap down in 15th. He was able to take a wave-around, however, and restart 13th on the lead lap. Once again he found the top 10 before Lap 130, and 20 laps later he had raced his way up to seventh once again. As the race moved past the halfway point, Kahne continued his drive forward, finding fourth on Lap 192. Five laps later, he made it to third, and when a caution flag flew shortly thereafter, a speedy stop by the No. 5 team allowed Kahne to gain another spot on pit road to restart second with 95 laps to go. While he lost positions on the restart, he remained inside the top 10 until a caution with 57 laps remaining. The No. 5 team elected to take just two tires, allowing Kahne to restart third. Once again, though he lost positions on the restart, he maintained his top-10 spot. When the race went to overtime, Kahne headed to pit road one final time for fresh tires. When the checkered flag waved after a second overtime restart, Kahne left with a 13th-place result.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 SUNENERGY1 CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Elliott started Sunday’s race in third, just behind his teammate Bowman, the race leader. He continued to run inside the top five early in the race even after losing the position, rebounding to move into the runner-up spot on Lap 54. Elliott headed to pit road for a green-flag stop just before a caution flag flew, trapping him a lap down in 11th. He was able to take a wave-around, however, and restart 10th on the lead lap. He moved back to the verge of the top-five at Lap 130, settling into sixth for the next stretch of the race. With less than 100 laps to go, Elliott restarted in fifth following a pair of cautions. Though he lost positions on the restart, he remained inside the top 10. Two more cautions in quick succession with less than 60 laps remaining saw Elliott hold on to his top-10 position and restart 10th with less than 50 laps to go. When the race went to overtime, Elliott headed to pit road one final time for fresh tires. When the checkered flag waved after a second overtime restart, Elliott finished ninth.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Johnson took the green flag from the 17th position, and he quickly got to work. By Lap 20 he was inside the top 10, and on Lap 70 he made his way up to third. When a caution flag flew during a cycle of green-flag pit stops, Johnson found himself in second as he had not yet headed to pit road. After a stop, Johnson restarted fourth on Lap 91. He continued to push forward, and on Lap 120 he jumped from third all the way to the race lead. When a caution flag flew for debris on Lap 132, Johnson headed to pit road, where he was hit with a penalty. That forced him to head back to pit road to serve the penalty, and he restarted 30th. He drove his way to 20th as the first car a lap down, but by the time a caution flag flew, Johnson was no longer in position to receive the free pass. On a restart with 95 laps to go, Johnson was involved in an incident that forced a caution and sent the No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS to the garage. Thanks to the No. 48 team’s hard work, Johnson returned to the track and ultimately finished 38th.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 NATIONWIDE CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Bowman earned his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole position on Friday, allowing him to start Sunday’s race from the front of the pack. He proceeded to lead each of the first 92 laps of the event, maintaining his lead through a caution on Lap 82, which fell in the middle of a cycle of green-flag pit stops. Bowman had yet to pit, and when he headed to pit road under caution, quick work by the No. 88 team allowed him to restart out front. On Lap 93 he lost the lead but continued to race inside of the top three. Bowman retook the lead on Lap 157 and he didn’t relinquish it, even through two quick cautions and the two ensuing restarts with less than 100 laps to go. When a caution was called with 57 laps to go, however, the No. 88 team elected to take four tires, and between competitors taking two tires or staying on the track, Bowman lost the lead. He restarted fifth as the first car with four fresh tires, having led 194 laps to that point. He began to lose position but with 35 laps to go, he regained fifth place, and less than 10 laps later he moved up to fourth. With 17 laps left, he raced his way into third, and just two laps later he jumped into the runner-up position. When the race went to overtime, Bowman had one more shot to jump to the lead as he restarted on the front row. Contact with competitors caused a caution and sent Bowman back to fifth place for the restart for the second overtime, and he would ultimately finish sixth.