Alex Bowman kicked off 2018 with a bang by winning the pole for the Daytona 500. Since then, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster in his first year with Hendrick Motorsports, replacing a semi-retired Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Bowman paced the field for 13 circuits in the Great American Race before getting caught up in a Big One toward the end of the race. The No. 88 car finished 17th.
It took six races before the No. 88 team recorded a top-10 finish, that being a seventh-place finish at Martinsville Speedway in late March. But in the five races to kick-off the season, Bowman had top-20 results in all five events.
Despite the lack of success to begin the year, all of the Chevrolet teams are adapting to the new Camaro ZL1, though Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500, clinching his spot into the playoffs. Now, halfway through the regular season, Bowman sees an upside for the entire Chevrolet camp, specifically HMS.
“I haven’t had one feel like what I want so far this year because we haven’t won yet, but we have definitely gotten better,” Bowman said on Friday at Pocono Raceway. “The balance of the cars has gotten better. The speed, we have been off. We are continuing to improve. I don’t think I’m going to have one that I like until we win, but we are getting closer.”
Bowman is coming off a ninth-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600, his fourth top 10 finish on the year. He recorded his first career top five at Bristol Motor Speedway (fifth), also posting an eighth-place effort at Talladega Superspeedway, after leading 26 laps.
Bowman, 25, picked up his best career finish on an intermediate track at Charlotte, which he hopes propels him going forward in 2018.
“We have had some ups and downs,” he said. “We have been quite a bit off of how we expect and want to be running. Last week was a hard-fought ninth-place finish but missed out on a lot of stage points. It’s better than a bad finish, but still a little frustrating.
“We are working really hard. We have a lot of really smart people trying to get all four of our cars better. But, it’s no secret we are off of where we want to be. It’s been a little frustrating, but we are not terrible in the points right now.”
Through the first 13 events, Bowman sits 14th in the championship standings, though 15th on the playoff grid, three points ahead of teammate Chase Elliott and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who are tied on the cut line.
“I think we are only going to get better,” Bowman elaborated. We definitely started the year off of where we want to be. Hopefully, we are going to start getting better and contending for some wins and winning some races because that is what they hired me for.”
About the author
Dustin joined the Frontstretch team at the beginning of the 2016 season. 2020 marks his sixth full-time season covering the sport that he grew up loving. His dream was to one day be a NASCAR journalist, thus why he attended Ithaca College (Class of 2018) to earn a journalism degree. Since the ripe age of four, he knew he wanted to be a storyteller.
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