Race Weekend Central

‘Drive Like An A**’: Alex Bowman’s Dover Top 10 Not Without Spotter, Radio Drama

DOVER, Del. – Alex Bowman was the fastest car at Dover Motor Speedway on Sunday (April 28) heading toward the final moments of stage 2.

It looked like the Wurth 400 was the perfect opportunity for the Hendrick Motorsports veteran to end his 72-race winless drought in the NASCAR Cup Series.

That’s when aerodynamics came into play.

Time and again, Bowman’s potential pass of teammate Kyle Larson fell short heading toward lap 250 due to some well-time blocks from the No. 5 Chevrolet. One of them left Bowman skating a little higher than expected, costing him precious time and leaving him battling with eventual winner Denny Hamlin for the runner-up spot the rest of the stage.

The moves from Larson weren’t unusual on a day where it was near impossible to pass. But the incident sparked an argument between Bowman and spotter Kevin Hamlin that may resonate beyond this event.

As Bowman lost crucial ground to Larson, taking away his line, he complained about how Larson was racing him on the track.

“Much appreciated, 5 car,” Bowman said, letting off some steam. That’s when the transmissions took a turn.

“He’s not going to pull over for you,” Bowman’s spotter, Kevin Hamlin, said unprompted. “You’ve got to go f***ing earn it.”

Hamlin didn’t stop there.

“Drive like an a**hole,” he said if Bowman was frustrated with Larson. “The rest of the race.”

The tone was combative, met with frustration by Bowman.

“Just let me drive the f***ing race car,” he said, quieting the radio as the second stage came to a close.

See also
Denny Hamlin Holds Off Kyle Larson for Dover Win

Moments later, Bowman found himself on the short end of the stick in a three-wide battle coming off pit road with Larson and Hamlin. His No. 48 Chevrolet took some contact as he got squeezed out of the sandwich and restarted behind both cars, taking in some slight damage.

In the final stage, things returned to normal somewhat, but Bowman was never as fast as he was in the midpoint of the race. Gradually losing track position during the final stage, he wound up eighth, third best among the HMS drivers who finished the event. One of the fastest drivers over the course of the day never wound up leading a single lap.

Bowman explained later how tough it was to get stalled behind Larson at that point in the event. With the extra track position out front, it could have made the difference and given Bowman the lead on that ensuing round of stops.

“I was a little too tight at the top,” Bowman said. “I needed to get around (Larson) because I wasn’t versatile enough to move back down. And then it got to be me more defending (Hamlin for second place] than anything. Bummer there.

“After that, we just weren’t as good. OK day. Not the greatest but we’ll move on.”

For his part, while Larson didn’t reference the specific incident with Bowman he was open about how aero blocking has become a necessary evil when battling for the lead.

“It’s so easy as the leader to shut off the air to the guy behind you at a track like Dover,” Larson said after finishing second, “especially where it’s low on grip as the run progresses… it’s a product of the car.”

When pressed about the Kevin Hamlin comments, Bowman immediately tried to shut down any drama.

“No,” he said politely. “I don’t have any clickbait for you there, buddy.”

It remains to be seen whether there will be conversations with Hamlin behind closed doors. The former driver has been Bowman’s spotter since the start of his full-time career with HMS in 2018, a relationship that’s one of the longer ones on the circuit. The two are good friends to the point sponsor Ally and Bowman honored Hamlin’s former driving career with a Throwback scheme they ran during the 2023 May weekend at Darlington Raceway.

Hamlin, who’s been with HMS for over a decade, was unavailable for comment after the race. Bowman now sits ninth in the Cup standings after Dover, the lowest of the Hendrick quartet but remains a healthy 39 points above the cutline.

Follow @NASCARBowles

About the author

The author of Did You Notice? (Wednesdays) Tom spends his time overseeing Frontstretch’s 40+ staff members as its majority owner and Editor-in-Chief. Based outside Philadelphia, Bowles is a two-time Emmy winner in NASCAR television and has worked in racing production with FOX, TNT, and ESPN while appearing on-air for SIRIUS XM Radio and FOX Sports 1's former show, the Crowd Goes Wild. He most recently consulted with SRX Racing, helping manage cutting-edge technology and graphics that appeared on their CBS broadcasts during 2021 and 2022.

You can find Tom’s writing here, at CBSSports.com and Athlonsports.com, where he’s been an editorial consultant for the annual racing magazine for 15 years.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

4 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mike

Sometimes I think spotters have the hardest job.
Experience with children would help.

DoninAjax

Seems there is a feeling of entitlement in a lot of drivers now.

Ron

Seems like a couple drivers are annoyed with Larson. Should someone tell him that he needs to pull over and allow other cars to pass him when they’re nearby? I’d take Kyle Larson as my driver over Alex Bowman or Kyle Busch any day in any car on any track.

wildcatsfan2016

For me, that’s a no, unless you’re a car that’s a lap down, then you don’t need to pull over. Of course if you know you are holding up another car, then you can choose to do it or risk getting moved out of the way. Dealer’s choice.

Share via