Alex Bowman Takes on Talladega Test

Alex Bowman prepares for his latest Talladega test. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Alex Bowman prepares for his latest Talladega test. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

When it comes to Alex Bowman this year, this 28-year-old Tucson, Arizona answers the bell. In the midst of a career season, the seventh year NASCAR Cup Series racer thrives under pressure.

Following Race 28 of the season at Richmond Raceway, Bowman held a slender five point margin for the final Playoffs spot. One week later, Bowman found himself outside of the cut at various points during the Bristol Night Race.

However, Bowman responded in emphatic fashion. The mild mannered racer nabbed a fantastic fifth place at the 0.533-mile concrete short track.

Without a doubt, Alex Bowman seems like a rather interesting Playoff contender. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

Without a doubt, Alex Bowman seems like a rather interesting Playoff contender. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

Bowman’s top five at Bristol Motor Speedway netted him a spot in the Round of 12. Although the driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro netted three victories this year, it’s about the here and now versus the summer races.

While Bowman ran well within the top 15 for about 64.2% of last Sunday night’s race at Las Vegas, a valve stem issue relegated him to a 22nd place finish. As a result, Bowman sits 13 points below the cutline ahead of Sunday’s YellaWood 500 at Talladega.

Still, Bowman remains confident about his chances with advancing into the Round of 8. Of course, he recognizes the challenges ahead in these next two weeks.

In the words of Ringo Starr, perhaps Alex Bowman knows the Playoffs "don't come easy." (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

In the words of Ringo Starr, perhaps Alex Bowman knows the Playoffs “don’t come easy.” (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

“It’s not going to be easy by any means,” Bowman said in a pre-race Zoom availability. “I feel like last year we had a really great Playoff run. This year, we’ve kind of had the opposite of what we had last year. It’s definitely been a little frustrating. But at the same time, our speedway cars are really fast every time we go to a speedway.

“And we’ve always been pretty good at the ROVAL. I know we have the tools we need to get the job done, and I’m confident we’ll have fast race cars. But I was really confident before we went to Las Vegas as well, and obviously that didn’t work out very well for us. Just got to go make it happen. We’re expected to run better than we’re running right now, and just need to go turn our stuff around and get pointed in the right direction.”

All things considered, Bowman and his No. 48 team, led by crew chief Greg Ives, seem like NASCAR’s comeback kids. Perhaps no other races as of press time illustrates Bowman’s might than the first of the Pocono doubleheaders on June 26.

Although Bowman took the lead on lap 112, he had a difficult task in staving off Kyle Larson, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate. Lap after lap, Bowman mustered every trick in his arsenal with retaining the lead over Larson.

Wide open spaces. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

Wide open spaces. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

Once Larson got past Bowman on lap 127, it seemed like the latter had to deal with another runner up result. On the final lap, Larson’s left front tire went flat which sent the Californian into the turn 3 wall.

Meanwhile, Bowman took the lead and victory in dramatic fashion. In the words of tennis legend Venus Williams, Bowman’s Pocono triumph is best described as “A win’s a win unless it is not a win. Then it’s not a win.”

Last minute successes seem like a patented component of Bowman and his No. 48 team’s M.O. In a way, perhaps his wins at Richmond, Virginia, Dover, Delaware and Long Pond, Pennsylvania prepared Bowman for Playoff pressures.

No matter what, Bowman, who signed a two-year extension on June 18, seems ready for his latest test. If Bowman wants to advance into the Round of 8, he’s got some tall tasks ahead of him at Talladega and the Charlotte ROVAL.

Similarly, Bowman also recognizes the light moments with fans especially during the Playoffs. Sure, Bowman may be “Mr. Cool Under Pressure” but he may be “Mr. Nice Guy” with a race fan at Richmond Raceway.

"I guess I’m like the approachable one to ask to go get somebody else." - Alex Bowman (Photo: Landen Ciardullo | The Podium Finish)

“I guess I’m like the approachable one to ask to go get somebody else.” – Alex Bowman (Photo: Landen Ciardullo | The Podium Finish)

“There’s always people giving you stuff or making wanting you to sign weird stuff,” Bowman acknowledged. “The most recent one that sticks out to me isn’t really one of those. I guess I’m like the approachable one to ask to go get somebody else. We were in Richmond and NASCAR had us all corralled for the driver intros and fans kind of surrounded that.

“Most everybody worked their way inside but a couple of us were standing outside, kind of where the fans were. And this girl kept yelling at me like for a couple of minutes. She wouldn’t stop yelling at me. So, I walked over finally, and she just wanted me to go get Chase Elliott for her. It was kind of funny. I thought that was a good one.”

Then again, Bowman may consider a win at Talladega or the Charlotte ROVAL may be his latest examples of a good one. Until the flagman waves the checkered flag at Charlotte on Oct. 10, Bowman remains a factor especially during crunch time.

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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