Alex Bowman heard the chatter of how he wouldn’t be around long in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. Sunday afternoon, after finishing third at Kansas Speedway to open the Round of 8, Bowman admitted he turned those predictions into a chip on his shoulder.
“A lot of people said we were going to go out early in the playoffs,” said Bowman. “We’re still here fighting. We’re still bringing really fast cars to the racetrack each and every week.”
While a top-five run in the Hollywood Casino 400 was a good day for Bowman, he left both happy and sad. Bowman was “a little bit bummed” to lose points and fall further behind a transfer spot because of a Joey Logano victory. With Logano jumping from below the cutline to an automatic championship race berth, it makes “life harder” for Bowman, who is now in a 27-point hole.
Bowman finished sixth in Stage 1 at Kansas and fourth in Stage 2. In the final few laps of the race, as Logano blocked and took the lanes away from Kevin Harvick, Bowman closed with a few car lengths of the two but said he ran out of time to stick his nose into the battle.
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Kansas was Bowman’s fifth top-10 finish in seven playoff races. It was his second top-five finish.
“I use that as a lot of motivation,” Bowman said of the critics. “I love it. Honestly, if people want to motivate me, just talk crap about me on the internet. It works pretty well.
“I do think my team is a little bit undervalued. They’re one of the best race teams in the garage; they make up for me not being very good at some of these places, give me some pretty great race cars to drive. I think we definitely have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. I think those laps a couple of laps go a little bit differently, and we could very well be going to Phoenix to race for a championship. I feel like we’re right there, right where we need to be. Everybody is doing a really good job.”
Bowman secured his playoff berth with a win in March at Fontana – before the sport paused because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But his strong start to the season gave way to inconsistency about a month after the sport’s resumption, and Bowman didn’t earn back-to-back top-10 finishes for the first time all year until August at Dover and Daytona.
“I’m really proud of our race team,” said Bowman. “The summer was really tough. We were able to switch it back on a couple of weeks before the playoffs. Ever since then, we’ve been firing on all cylinders, bringing great race cars to the racetrack, executing really well. Bristol (16th) and Talladega (14th), we had some issues, but other than that, really, really good each week. Really proud of my race team.”
This season is the first time Bowman has made the Round of 8.