For the first time in six weeks, Alex Bowman found more positives than negatives with the No. 48 team’s performance and a third-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway felt “pretty good.”
“I felt like we had a pretty solid day,” Bowman said. “We kind of struggled on long runs a little bit, but had really good pit stops all day. Our Camaro was pretty fast. Decent restarts. Nothing went wrong for once. It seems like every race all year, something has gone wrong, so I was just glad we were able to put an entire day together and not have anything go wrong.
“Greg (Ives, crew chief) called a great race. We were just a little off; I was on the splitter a little bit over the bumps and then would kind of snap the back of the car out of the racetrack after that. Solid day. Really proud of the 48 team.”
Bowman didn’t lead a lap in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, but he earned points in both stages. A podium finish is his best result of the year and just his third top-10 finish.
Two of Bowman’s three teammates from Hendrick Motorsports have won races this year, with Kyle Larson looking like he was headed to another on Sunday. Bowman is also far behind in laps led compared to his teammates already. He’s led just one lap in six races while Larson has led over 300, William Byron over 100, and Chase Elliot 75.
“We’ve struggled in some areas this year that have been pretty frustrating,” Bowman admitted. “I feel like we really struggled in dirty air, maneuverability in traffic, and restarts and stuff. We worked really hard at bringing something to the racetrack that I could be aggressive with and could drive hard.
“It felt good to have that, to be able to pass cars. My pit crew did a great job keeping us upfront as well. Yeah, it definitely feels good to be closer to the front. We want to be a couple of spots better, but after the last couple of weeks, this definitely feels pretty good.”
Solid day in Atlanta. Proud of this Ally 48 team, we’re headed in the right direction!
Time to go dirt racin’ at Bristol🤘🏼 pic.twitter.com/sqqMDhBprT
— Alex Bowman (@Alex_Bowman) March 21, 2021
With three teams inside the top 10 in points and all showing speed, Bowman feels this is the strongest start to a season the company has had. All four cars are “really similar” each week, and it’s up to the crew chief and engineers to have their own interpretation of the data and tools.
As much as Bowman is leaning on his teammates, he acknowledges his group is behind. Specifically, Byron and Larson have been fast every week, in Bowman’s opinion.
“It’s always good to be able to learn from them,” he said.
Asked what has been the biggest hindrance for his team, Bowman chuckled and said, “building fast race cars. Faster race cars. I don’t know. Like I said earlier, I’ve struggled on restarts a lot this year. Instead of being on offense, I felt like I’m trying not to crash for a couple of laps.
“I feel like today was a step in the right direction in that. I guess next week (Bristol) is probably going to be a whole different deal, but from then on, see how it applies.”