CONCORD, N.C. – From a 22nd-place starting position to battling front-tire troubles in the final segment, Alex Bowman and the No. 88 team fought through 500 laps of taxing short-track racing to take home a top-10 finish Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Under the lights at the “Last Great Colosseum,” the driver behind the wheel of the No. 88 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 climbed 14 positions to finish eighth, earning his ninth top-10 result of the season.
“Just proud of my guys,” Bowman said of his team’s performance. “We had a good race car.”
After 60 laps, Bowman had already gained 10 positions and was up to 12th, ultimately finishing the opening segment in that position.
By the end of Stage 2, the driver cracked the top 10 and started the final segment in ninth.
After lap 300, Bowman was forced to pit road for an unscheduled stop due to a loose front tire, surrendering his top-10 position. Returning to the track two laps behind the leader in 19th, the driver took advantage of several cautions late in the race to get back on the lead lap.
Running 16th with under 25 laps to go, Bowman was able to work his way back into the top 10 to secure his eighth-place finish.
“We had a really good race car, just had that loose wheel and lost those two laps,” Bowman said. “Almost got the lap back under green and that would have probably have gotten us a couple more spots there, but still got it back through wave-arounds.”
With only two regular season races to go before the 16-driver playoff field will be set, Bowman currently holds the 16th and final playoff position.
Saturday night’s performance helped him stay in that spot after he earned 30 points in the race.
Bowman now has a 79-point cushion ahead of the cutoff line.
“Not to lose points and just to have a good, solid day is always good,” Bowman said. “I don’t even know who finished in front of us, (but) it looks like we beat all the people we need to beat, so keep making headway.”