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LAS VEGAS – For Alex Bowman, making the playoffs for the first time in his Cup Series career was certainly a milestone moment for the young driver.

But now that he’s one of 16 drivers battling for a championship, he’s already looking for more.

“Hopefully, we can do more than just be a part of it, but make noise in it,” Bowman said.  “We have had a rough couple of weeks and really a rough year, but we have been getting much faster and if we can just capitalize on that, it will be good.”

The last few races haven’t gone in Bowman’s favor, but he still earned two top-10 finishes in the last six races, including a third-place result at Pocono. Even through the recent setbacks, he’s seen better speed and “dramatic improvements” from the start of the season.

“We’re continuing to get better,” he said. “We’ve had more speed the last couple weeks than we’ve had in a while. If we can just keep improving our race cars, we’ve got a shot at it.”

Consistency has helped Bowman steadily grow and improve throughout his first full season behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. And even with higher stakes this weekend at Las Vegas, Bowman and his team aren’t getting too caught up in the hype of the moment.

“It seems like the intensity is going to be pretty high going into Vegas,” the driver said. “We’re not doing anything different. We’re just trying to bring the best race cars to the racetrack that we can and have the best races we possibly can.”

With the unknown commodity of the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway slated as the third and final race of the Round of 16 when four drivers will be eliminated, having strong runs at Las Vegas and Richmond is even more critical. Every lap and every point matters.

“Stage points are going to be really important for us,” Bowman said. “If we can continue to gain on the speed side of things, I think we can definitely advance.”

With the current toasty conditions in Las Vegas, the No. 88 team is preparing for a slicker racetrack than usual and a higher rate of tire wear this weekend.

“I think there are going to be a lot of variables that we don’t really know what to expect,” Bowman said.

It’s the driver’s first career trip to the playoffs, but on any given day, he’s confident in the No. 88 team’s chances.

“I think we can do as good of a job as anybody,” he said. “We obviously have a great team behind us at Hendrick Motorsports, one of the best in the business. We have a lot of people working really hard and our cars have been getting better each and every week. We are just going to continue that and take it from there.”