Alex Bowman bests Larson, scores first Cup win at Chicagoland

Alex Bowman may be losing a sponsor this season but he gained something even better – his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory.

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Alex Bowman bests Larson, scores first Cup win at Chicagoland
Race Winner Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Axalta
Race Winner Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Axalta
Race Winner Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Axalta
Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Global Poker Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Toco Warranty Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang BodyArmor Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Axalta

Bowman earned his first Cup Series victory in 134 starts by holding off a wild challenge from Kyle Larson in Sunday’s Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Larson actually was able to run down Bowman to take the lead with eight of 267 laps remaining, only to see Bowman run him back down and reclaim it three laps later.

"This is what I wanted my whole life," Bowman said. "I feel this is validation for a lot of people who said we couldn't do this. I'm so proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. My guys have worked so hard. I had questions if (Rick Hendrick, team owner) was going to let me keep doing this and everything that was in the rumor mill.

"To be here, winning a race in the Cup series means so much. I couldn't do it without these guys, My pit crew is the best pit crew on pit road. This is all I've ever wanted."

Asked he he regrouped and passed Larson for the win for the final time, Bowman said, "I was just tired of running second. I don't want to do that anymore. 

"I feel like this is the last box aside from going and chasing a championship that I personally for myself needed to validate my career. I feel like there is a lot more left to accomplish, but this has always been what I hear: 'You haven't won a race.'

"Everybody can stop giving me crap - we finally did it!"

Earlier this month, Hendrick Motorsports announced one of Bowman’s primary sponsors, Nationwide, would be leaving the No. 88 team at the end of the season.

Joey Logano finished third, Jimmie Johnson was fourth and Brad Keselowski completed the top-five.

Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, all of the lead-lap cars elected to pit with Kevin Harvick the first off pit road. On the restart on Lap 168, Harvick led the way followed by Larson, Bowman and Johnson.

Denny Hamlin was penalized for having too many crew members over the wall during his pit stop and had to restart from the rear of the field.

Larson powered past Harvick on the restart to take the lead for the first time in the race as Harvick dropped to second and Bowman ran third.

Kyle Busch was forced to pit on Lap 169 after contact with Logano on the track left him with a flat tire.

On Lap 171, Bowman got by Harvick and Larson to move into the lead for the first time in the race.

Harvick pancaked the wall on Lap 172 to bring out a caution. Several drivers elected to pit but Bowman and many others remained on the track. On the restart on Lap 177, Bowman led followed by Larson, Johnson, Aric Almirola and Martin Truex Jr.

On Lap 186, Clint Bowyer took his No. 14 Ford to the garage for repairs. He experienced several tire issues during the race.

With 75 laps remaining in the race, Bowman had moved out to a 1.4-second lead over Johnson with Larson running in third. Logano was fourth and William Byron fifth.

After 107 laps, Bowman had opened the biggest lead of the race – just over three seconds – on Larson as Johnson moved to third. 

With 50 laps to go, Ryan Newman and Logano were the first to drop to pit road for their final pit stop of the race. Larson and Truex followed with 149 laps left. Bowman made his stop on Lap 220.

Once the cycle of stops were completed with 42 seconds to go, Bowman remained out front with a lead of just over two seconds on Larson. Logano was third, Johnson fourth and Brad Keselowski fifth.

With 34 laps to go, Kyle Busch reported smoke in the cockpit of his No. 18 Toyota and he was forced to pit under green shortly thereafter.

 

With 20 laps left in the race, Bowman maintained a lead of just over 1.5 seconds over Larson while Logano remained in third.

Bowman’s lead over Larson dropped to under a second with 15 laps remaining.

Larson got to Bowman’s rear bumper with 10 laps remaining and began working on trying to pass him for the lead.

With eight laps remaining, Larson powered to the inside of Bowman entering Turn 1 and came out in Turn 2 with the lead. Three laps later, Bowman got back around Larson to reclaim the lead.

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Cla # Driver Manufacturer Laps Time Laps Led
1 88 United States Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 267   88
2 42 United States Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 267 0.546 7
3 22 United States Joey Logano  Ford 267 3.471  
4 48 United States Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 267 4.745 10
5 2 United States Brad Keselowski  Ford 267 6.966  
6 12 United States Ryan Blaney  Ford 267 7.610 1
7 20 United States Erik Jones  Toyota 267 9.859 1
8 24 United States William Byron  Chevrolet 267 10.560 9
9 19 United States Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 267 12.010  
10 3 United States Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 267 12.602 10
11 9 United States Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 267 16.816  
12 17 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 267 20.752 2
13 1 United States Kurt Busch  Chevrolet 267 24.131  
14 4 United States Kevin Harvick  Ford 267 24.808 132
15 11 United States Denny Hamlin  Toyota 267 25.059 5
16 10 United States Aric Almirola  Ford 267 25.141  
17 6 United States Ryan Newman  Ford 267 31.686 1
18 37 United States Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 266 1 lap  
19 8 United States Daniel Hemric  Chevrolet 266 1 lap  
20 34 United States Michael McDowell  Ford 266 1 lap 1
21 21 United States Paul Menard  Ford 266 1 lap  
22 18 United States Kyle Busch  Toyota 266 1 lap  
23 38 United States David Ragan  Ford 265 2 laps  
24 41 Mexico Daniel Suarez  Ford 265 2 laps 1
25 43 United States Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 264 3 laps  
26 15 United States Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 264 3 laps  
27 95 United States Matt DiBenedetto  Toyota 264 3 laps  
28 47 United States Ryan Preece  Chevrolet 264 3 laps  
29 36 United States Matt Tifft  Ford 263 4 laps  
30 32 United States Corey Lajoie  Ford 263 4 laps  
31 00 United States Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 260 7 laps  
32 52 United States Bayley Currey  Chevrolet 258 9 laps  
33 53 United States Josh Bilicki  Chevrolet 257 10 laps  
34 27 United States Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet 249 18 laps  
35 13 United States Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 239 28 laps  
36 51 United States B.J. McLeod  Ford 238 29 laps  
37 14 United States Clint Bowyer  Ford 172 95 laps  
38 77 United States Quin Houff  Chevrolet 100 167 laps  

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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Chicagoland
Author Jim Utter
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