KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Alex Bowman knew he needed to win Sunday at Kansas Speedway in order to advance to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
After qualifying 10th, he started the race on a mission. But just a handful of laps in, the No. 19 car hit the wall just in front of him, and the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 took some right-front damage as Bowman looked to avoid an incident.
“We had to fix damage throughout the day,” Bowman said. “I’m a little frustrated. We had a better car than that.”
Still, he continued to battle inside the top 10 for most of the day even after scraping the wall while moving into seventh place in Stage 1.
Unfortunately, the damage – and long green-flag runs throughout the afternoon – worked against his chances to find Victory Lane.
In the end, he took home a ninth-place finish, but it wasn’t enough to advance and he was eliminated from the playoffs.
Bowman noted that his No. 88 Chevy was great on short runs, but the long runs “just ate us up.”
“We keep bringing fast race cars to the track and just not executing great, but not doing a bad job either,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep getting faster.”
Bowman’s Round of 12 effort nearly started with a top-10 effort at Dover International Speedway before a multiple-car incident with fewer than 10 laps remaining left him with a 28th-place result.
The following week at Talladega, Bowman was once again running inside the top 10 before he was caught in a multiple-car incident, this time with just three laps remaining. That left him with a 33rd-place result.
After those two finishes, Sunday’s top-10 wasn’t enough to propel him forward.
“It really started with Dover and getting caught up in somebody else’s mess after overcoming a lot and running fifth toward the end,” Bowman recapped. “And then, me just being in a position where I kind of had to be a little overly aggressive in Talladega and then it comes down to not even having a shot today. So, it’s been a pretty frustrating three races for us because I felt like it could have been a really good three races for us. And we probably should have finished fifth at Dover and somewhere in the top five at Talladega and then had a solid day here. So, unfortunately, that didn’t happen.”
Nevertheless, Bowman was proud to have advanced all the way to the Round of 12 in his first full-time season with Hendrick Motorsports. And even though he’s eliminated, he’ll continue to strive to close the 2018 campaign on a high note – particularly with the strong showings that teammate Chase Elliott has put on, including Sunday’s win.
“Our cars have some a long way,” he said. “To see Chase get three wins here now is pretty cool. He’s kind of on fire. So hopefully we can get up front in the next couple of weeks.”