CONCORD, N.C. – With his first career NASCAR Cup Series win last Sunday, Alex Bowman accomplished something he said was “all I’ve wanted my whole life.”
In the process, he locked himself into the playoffs with the trip to Victory Lane. It will mark his second consecutive trip to the postseason after making the playoffs in his first full-time season driving for Hendrick Motorsports last year.
He currently ranks ninth in the point standings.
“I think for me, I can stop watching the points race every week and worrying about trying to be in,” Bowman said. “Obviously, we were pretty strong in points, but we weren't locked in by any means.”
Crew chief Greg Ives said the No. 88 team’s game plan for the remainder of the regular season won’t change completely just because of the win and playoff berth. He stressed that the work is not over, and it will remain about consistency.
“For me, it's continuing doing what we've been doing, putting our best car on the racetrack run one, and that's usually what you put your most time into,” the crew chief said. “Keep on doing that and executing the races the best possible way and allowing these guys to be under the pressure that the playoffs give you.”
In the last eight races, Bowman has earned the most points of all Cup Series competitors with 323. He also has the best average finish of the series at 6.63 in the last eight races, finishing inside the top two in four of them.
The driver will look to build on that momentum moving forward but acknowledged that the win allows him to take some risks as he prepares to race for a championship in the playoffs.
“I feel like we can just be more aggressive, take more chances,” Bowman said. “I feel like I can be more aggressive on green-flag pit stops and just little things like that where sometimes if you overstep, it completely ruins your day and costs you a ton of points. We don't have to worry as much about that and I can work on getting 10 tenths out of it so when the playoffs come, I know how hard I can push or can't push.”
Another facet to keep in mind, Ives pointed out, is the need to amass playoff points. Winning Stages 1 or 2 of a race provides one playoff point, while a race win nets five playoff points.
The No. 88 team will have its eyes on racking up those points as the rest of the regular season progresses while striving to keep up the string of strong finishes.
“We have a lot of playoff points that we need to catch up on,” Ives said. “This definitely helps, but going into a playoff without not a lot of playoff points is not the best place to be.
“Focused on trying to do that, and obviously just being consistent, executing and growing as a team.”