With points penalty nullified, Bowman happy to lead again

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With points penalty nullified, Bowman happy to lead again


With points penalty nullified, Bowman happy to lead again


Welcome back to the NASCAR Cup Series championship points lead, Alex Bowman.

“Definitely glad to have the point lead,” Bowman said Saturday at Richmond Raceway.

He jumped back atop the standings earlier this week when the National Motorsports Appeals Panel amended the L2 penalty NASCAR levied against Hendrick Motorsports last month. NASCAR officials confiscated the hood louvers off all four cars after practice at Phoenix Raceway, ruling the organization had modified the single-source supplied parts.

In addition to 100-point penalties and losing 10 playoff points, all four Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs were suspended four races and fined $100,000. Bowman had taken the point lead after the Phoenix race, but it only lasted a few days before the penalty knocked him to 23rd place.

Before the appeal was heard Wednesday, Bowman sat 16th in the standings after the Atlanta Motor Speedway and Circuit of The Americas events. The points were the most critical variable of the penalty, NASCAR officials feeling that it is a “strong deterrent” to violations.

While the panel noted the organization “violated the Rule(s),” the points – championship and playoff – were given back to each Hendrick team. The suspensions and fines stood.

“For me, it’s just my job to drive the race car,” Bowman said when asked what his expectation of the appeal was. “I was just focused on doing the best I could every week and making up the points that we had lost. Happy to get them back, but for me, just trying to drive the race car the best I can and maximize each and every week.”

It is the first time Bowman has led the point standings in his Cup Series career.

He currently leads the 2023 field in top-10 finishes (five) and is tied with three other drivers for the most top-five finishes (three). And even though Bowman and the No. 48 team haven’t won a race, his average finish of 7.0 is also series-leading over Kyle Busch’s 9.0. They are the only two Cup Series drivers with an average finish in the single digits.

“Execution” is what Bowman said his team is doing right through the early part of the season.

“We’ve maximized our bad days,” he said. “We struggled a little bit at Phoenix but still ended up in the top 10. At Atlanta, if the last lap goes a little different, then we finish in the top 10 there, too. I feel like just maximizing our bad days and maximizing each little part and piece of everything throughout the races.

“This is a small sample size. It feels good to be leading points and to have this season that we’re having so far. We’re six races in and so much can change. We’re trying to continue that each and every week to keep that going.”

Through the penalty, Bowman’s team has missed a beat. Although crew chief Blake Harris has missed the last two races and will miss Richmond and the Bristol dirt event, there has been a familiar voice in Bowman’s ear: Greg Ives, whom Bowman worked with for five years, is the interim crew chief.

“I think Greg’s done a great job,” said Bowman. “It’s kind of funny how it worked; he came back in a hurry. It’s been fun working with Greg. Obviously, I’ve enjoyed that for a long time, and I’m glad to be working with him.”

Bowman starts from the pole at Richmond (Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET, FS1) after rain canceled qualifying. Being the point leader is a part of the metric that helped give Bowman the top spot.