Alex Bowman Wins Drydene 400 at Dover

Without a doubt, Alex Bowman conquered Dover like a video gamer beating Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest. (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Without a doubt, Alex Bowman conquered Dover like a video gamer beating Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest. (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

All in all, Alex Bowman seemingly looks like Hendrick Motorsports’ version of “The Closer” this year.

Of course, Bowman may not be taking over Kyra Sedgwick’s role on the hit TNT show. However, the 28-year-old Tucson, Ariz. native continually provides his best Kevin Harvick impersonation with late race strength resulting in a victory.

In like matter, Bowman creeped his way into the picture particularly with 97 laps remaining. Comparatively, Bowman’s battle for the lead, and ultimately for the win, came against Kyle Larson, his Hendrick teammate.

For car owner Rick Hendrick, the 13 time NASCAR Cup Series championship car owner experienced a Lou Reed moment at Dover – a “perfect day.”

“Every time you’re in a race, you like to see them run 1-2-3-4,” Hendrick said. “The feeling is unbelievable. It was probably the longest last hundred laps that I’ve ever seen in a race just because I kind of wanted to see it so bad, so close. To be able to pull that off, that’s kind of one of those things in racing that you would say was on your bucket list.”

Nevertheless, Hendrick’s bucket list goal seemed like easy pickings but it was decided in Sunday’s Drydene 400. Notably, race 13 of the Cup season came at a great place for Hendrick’s quartet. All things considered, Hendrick Motorsports entered Sunday’s race with a winning percentage of 19.4% and a 32.6% success rate since Dover’s switch to a concrete surface in 1995.

While Larson (fourth) and William Byron (third) started inside the top 10, Bowman kicked off this race from the 16th starting spot. Meanwhile, Chase Elliott started at the rear of the pack due to failing pre-race inspection multiple times.

Like Pedro Martinez pitching against the Tampa Bay Rays or Tom Brady matched up against the New York Jets, Hendrick’s formidable quartet feasted on Dover with ease. Certainly, Larson flexed his muscles by winning the first two stages in his No. 5 Nation Guard Chevrolet Camaro.

Likewise, Elliott, Byron, and Bowman finished in the top 10 in both stages on pure performance and fast pit stops.

Once the field prepared for the final stage, Larson’s path toward his second Cup victory of the year became a bit obscure but not quite camera obscura.

As shown above, Alex Bowman likely thought of Bradley Wik and the Charlatans after taking the lead. (Photo: James Gilbert/Getty Images)

As shown above, Alex Bowman likely thought of Bradley Wik and the Charlatans after taking the lead. (Photo: James Gilbert/Getty Images)

With 97 laps left, Bowman’s pit crew delivered a lightning fast 12.1776 seconds pit stop. In fact, this pit stop propelled Bowman into the lead.

Indeed, it seemed like Dover deja vu for the Californian seeing the No. 48 Chevrolet ahead of him for the win at this mile long concrete track.

Despite another second place finish this year, Larson found some positives with his day and team’s strong performance.

“I feel like we maximized our day,” Larson observed. “We were all so equal. I think any of the four of us could have been out in the lead. That person probably would have won.

“Their (Bowman’s) pit crew did an awesome job. Our pit crew has been amazing all year, too. Like I said, I’m not disappointed or upset about this second because I feel like there wasn’t anything else I could do.”

As for Elliott, his sentiments were quite similar with Larson following a strong third place result.

“I think we’re in a good place as far as where we ended the day today,” Elliott said. “I thought we were close. Just needed to do just a tick better. Needed to have a little better restarts, have just a tick more pace. I really thought we were pretty close. So happy with our run.”

Incredibly, Byron took his 11th consecutive top 10 finish with his fourth place result. Generally speaking, Byron shared his teammates’ sentiments.

“Yea, no, it was awesome, “Byron said. “For HMS to finish 1-2-3-4, it’s just a credit to a lot of great people in the shop. It sucks to be fourth but I think we’re close. We just have to kind of work on some things with our cars and get the right feels.

“We’re getting real close! We’re chipping away. Two fourth places in a row, we’ll take it and we’ll move on.”

In essence, Bowman made like ABBA at Dover as “The Winner Takes It All.” As the season’s second repeat winner, the confident racer praised his No. 48 Ally team.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Bowman remarked. “I feel like we’ve been off for a couple weeks, but we’re still the same race team that won in Richmond. We’ve been probably a little down on ourselves. Just tried to get the guys back motivated after a rough week last week in Darlington. Our pit stops were incredible today.

“To run 1-2-3-4 for HMS, so cool. I don’t know when the last time that happened was, but it’s been a long time. Really, really cool to see it.”

Ultimately, Bowman led Hendrick’s first podium finish since the 1997 Daytona 500. Altogether, it was NASCAR’s fourth 1-2-3-4 finish for the same team and the first instance of such since Roush Fenway Racing’s dominant performance in the 2005 Ford 400 at Homestead.

Following Bowman’s Dover victory, the latest Cup race winner provided an incredible burnout that actually left a small fire under his car on the fronstretch. In any event, the typically witty driver lived up to his trademark humor when asked about this rare oddity.

Definitely, Bowman evokes the excitement of beating Big Rigs. (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Definitely, Alex Bowman evokes the excitement of beating Big Rigs. (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

“I stopped paying attention,” Bowman said. “It’s a long way from when I was on fire in New Hampshire, that’s for sure.”

Stage 1 Top 10 finishers: Larson-Hamlin-Blaney-Elliott-Harvick/Byron-Logano-Bowman-Buescher-Keselowski

Stage 2 Top 10 finishers:Larson-Elliott-Bowman-Byron-Hamlin/Harvick-Kurt Busch-Keselowski-Austin Dillon-Reddick

Top-10 finishers: Bowman-Larson-Elliott-Byron-Logano/Harvick-Hamlin-Reddick-Suarez-Custer

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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