SPARTA, Ky. – Early in the second segment of Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway, Alex Bowman and the No. 88 were hoping a two-tire pit stop would pay dividends on the track.
The strategy allowed Bowman to begin Stage 2 in third, though cars on four fresh tires began to pass the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 not long after.
Then, on Lap 109, a right-side tire issue sent the No. 88 Chevy toward the wall.
“It’s a bummer, we popped a right-front (tire) there,” Bowman explained. “Don’t know if a brake rotor caused that or if we just had a tire go down.”
The resulting damage to the car ended Bowman’s day. He was scored 39th.
It was the first time this season that Bowman and the No. 88 team did not finish a race. The No. 88 Chevy had been running at the end of each of the previous 18 races.
“We were the last guy that didn’t have any DNFs – we made it one week farther than everybody else,” Bowman said.
Currently 16th in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff standings, Bowman is positioned as the final competitor that would make the 16-driver field.
“Absolutely we are right in the thick of the points stuff, so we can’t afford this – this will hurt us quite a bit,” he said.
Even after the race-ending incident, he holds a 19-point advantage on the 17th-place driver with seven races remaining in the regular season.
“Really unfortunate, but it’s not something that we could prevent,” he said of the tire issue. “It’s nothing that we caused and there is not much you can do about it. You pop a right-front and have a long time to stare at the wall and then you hit it and then you’ve got to move on.”
And he expects the No. 88 team to do just that.
“My Hendrick Motorsports guys will work hard,” Bowman said, “and we will be better next week.”