From wrecking with 40 seconds left in practice to spinning on Lap 1 Sunday afternoon, a sick Alex Bowman overcame it all to finish second in the Bank of America Roval 400.
Having been two points below the cutline coming into the weekend, the result propelled Bowman into the Round of 12 in the playoffs.
“Obviously it feels really good or as good as it can with how I’m feeling right now,” Bowman said. “Just trying to stay focus on Dover; got to get healthy by then and be strong there.”
Bowman started in the rear of the field in a backup car because of the crash in Saturday’s final practice. He spent much of the day battling from behind and did not score any points in Stage 1 or Stage 2.
A caution on Lap 90 saw Bowman come down pit road for four tires, and from there the charge was on. Bowman was eighth by Lap 92 and second with five laps to go, but Elliott had already gapped the field so there was no challenge for the race win. Bowman’s playoff hopes were aided when Aric Almirola ended up finishing 14th after Ryan Newman messed up the backstretch chicane and fell to 32nd.
“I was pretty embarrassed yesterday, and then I went and embarrassed myself on the first lap, too,” Bowman said. “Didn’t feel too good to go and do that. Really frustrated with myself and the mistakes that I made throughout the weekend. Not real acceptable. But glad the guys gave me a race car capable of making up for it.”
Crew chief Greg Ives believes a run like Sunday is a big boost for Bowman considering he wasn’t feeling well entering the weekend. Bowman admitted he’s been sick since last Wednesday needed fluids at the Infield Care Center after the race.
“He redeemed himself from the practice incident,” Ives said. “Obviously relieved, but we got a job to do tomorrow [to] get ready for Dover, a track that we feel like we can go out and finish well.
“It’s pretty exciting to see the 9 car (Chase Elliott) win, but if we were fast enough, which we weren’t, it might have got a little exciting.”
Ives witnessed firsthand the determination from the team on the brink of elimination.
“No, never gave up,” continued Ives about the day. “You still don’t know what’s going to happen with the points and the thing there was just don’t mess up that last lap. The 10 (Almirola) came up a little short, the 6 (Newman) had a little issue, we just didn’t want to be one of those guys that gave up our second place.
“Obviously I wanted him to go after the win, but the 9 was pretty fast and credit to those guys. On to Dover.”
Bowman led 16 laps and finished second in the spring Dover race, which was the second of what would turn out to be three straight runner-up finishes.