Alex Bowman was in the right place at the right time when racing luck caught up to his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson.
Bowman scored the win in the Organics CBD 325 at Pocono Raceway with a last-minute, unexpected inheritance of the lead. Larson blew a left-front tire on the final lap going into the final corner. The last-lap twist delivered Bowman his third win of the season and first at Pocono.
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“I hate to win one that way, but hell yeah, I’ll take it,” Bowman said of his fifth career win. “Super proud of this Ally 48 team. Man, we kind of gave the lead away. We were on two tires, just got super tight. I tried to hold him off as long as I could.
“Can’t say enough about everybody at Team Hendrick right now – body shop, engine shop, chassis shop – top to bottom, everybody is putting race cars on the racetrack. Greg (Ives, crew chief) and all the guys did a really good job. We didn’t run that good all day, so I’m kind of in shock.”
Bowman controlled much of the final run to the finish. Off the race’s last restart with 19 laps to go, Bowman, who restarted second on the inside lane, was pushed to the race lead. Larson took second place with 18 laps to go and went about stalking and pressuring Bowman for nearly 15 laps before finally getting to Bowman’s inside off Turn 1 with four laps to go.
A corner later, Larson cleared Bowman and seemed to be setting sail toward a fourth straight win (five including the non-points All Star Race). The tire blew as Larson approached Turn 3 and sent him into the outside wall.
Bowman beat Kyle Busch to the finish line. William Byron finished third, and Denny Hamlin finished fourth. Ryan Blaney completed the top five.
Bowman led 16 of the race’s 130 laps. Busch led a race-high 30 laps and won the first stage.
Kurt Busch won the second stage and finished sixth, Joey Logano finished seventh, and Kevin Harvick finished eighth. Larson crossed the finish line ninth after leading 15 laps.
“I guess disbelief still,” Larson said. “I don’t know, a little bit laughable just because I can’t believe it. Hate that we didn’t get another win. Would have been cool to win five in a row. Just wasn’t meant to be, I guess today. I felt something like right in the middle of the tunnel (turn). Wasn’t quite sure what it was yet. It finally kind of shredded halfway through the short chute there. Couldn’t turn.
“Hate that we didn’t get the win. Cool that Alex still did, a Hendrick car with another win. Cool to keep Mr. H’s streak going. Yeah, hate we didn’t get HendrickCars.com into victory lane, but we’ll try to start another streak tomorrow.”
While Larson’s winning streak came to an end, Hendrick Motorsports remains on top in the NASCAR Cup Series. The organization has won the last six races and nine of the season’s 18.
Pocono featured 14 lead changes among nine drivers and eight caution flags.