By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
He may not have a ride for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, but Alex Bowman continues to showcase his talents in every opportunity he gets.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is usually the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, told his team and sponsor that Bowman deserved to run the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona — a non-points race designed to reward pole winners from the season before. Bowman won the pole in the fall race at Phoenix while filling in for Earnhardt, so Earnhardt set his own eligibility in the event to allow Bowman to run another race at NASCAR’s highest level.
Bowman for over 90-percent of the event was really a non factor. Anytime he would work his way forward in the field, someone would weed him out of the draft. On the final lap of the race, Bowman found himself as an afterthought for the win in the eighth position going into turn one. Then all hell broke loose.
Brad Keselowski knifed his way underneath Denny Hamlin for the race lead. Hamlin went for a block and crashed both drivers in the process. Carnage ensued, but Bowman methodically worked his way through the chaos. Bowman bolted toward the finish line with a shot at a runner-up finish.
“We were pretty far buried there for a while. I struggled to get guys to work with us,” Bowman explained after climbing from his race car. “Chase (Elliott) pushed us up to there at the end, and we had a shot at it. That is all I can ask. I want to thank Nationwide and Mountain Dew for letting me do this. I had a lot of fun.”
Ultimately Kyle Busch, who was frustrated that Bowman refused to work with him to chase down the winner Joey Logano, would hold off Bowman for second, but a third place finish is an impressive outing for Bowman. When asked about not working with Busch, Bowman said he just reciprocated the help he received during the race.
“It’s easy; hindsight is 20/20, right? It’s hard to see. I was on the top with all that stuff happened getting into Turn 1 and I didn’t know the No. 22 (Joey Logano) was out there by himself. So, [Busch] is probably right. We probably could have caught the No. 22 and had a shot to win it, but at the same time, he didn’t work with me much all day, either,” Bowman said. “A lot of guys hung us out every chance they got.”
Bowman will now head back to Charlotte to continue working to improve Hendrick Motorsports’ simulator program.