Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Bowman Breaks 80-Race Winless Streak in Time-Shortened Race in Chicago

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

CHICAGO – Bowman is back.

It has been a long road for Alex Bowman since he last visited Victory Lane in the NASCAR Cup Series, but he’ll have to wait no more after winning Sunday’s NASCAR Chicago Street Race to break a winless streak dating back some 80 races.

Since that win in March 2022 at Las Vegas, the driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet has been through a lot, including a concussion that sidelined him for a number of races that same year, as well as a sprint car crash the following spring. Since then, Bowman has been striving to equal his Hendrick Motorsports teammates, but had fallen short.

Until now.

With the oddity of a one hour, 43-minute red flag for rain that transformed what was scheduled to be a 75-lap race around Grant Park in Chicago to a timed event with a deadline of 8:20 pm local time, Bowman and his team used a strategy play to get them in position to strike and Bowman did the rest.

At the end of the second stage, there was a decision to be made – stay on the wet weather tires for the final run to the finish or pit for slicks and hope you can make up the ground against those that stay out.

Leaders at the time, Ty Gibbs and Christopher Bell, elected to go with the former, while Joey Hand and Bowman stayed out on the wets through the end of the stage.

When the final stage restarted with approximately 15 minutes to go, Hand, the sports car ace, held the lead, but Bowman was hungry for a win, filling his mirror in each turn as they worked their way around the course, clicking away laps and the time clock counting down to the deadline.

On Lap 51 and approximately 12 minutes remaining, Bowman made his move, diving low on Hand in Turn 4 to secure the lead.

But it wasn’t over yet.

Shortly thereafter, the caution flag flew for Josh Berry in Turn 2, setting up one final restart with less than five minutes to go on the countdown clock.

Once the green flag flew for the final time, Bowman pulled out to a secure lead over hand and seemed to have the race in the bag as long as he was able to run out the remaining laps in one piece.

Despite cars spinning every which way in seemingly every corner, the race stayed green, but a new challenger emerged in Tyler Reddick, who was one of the drivers that decided to pit for slicks at the end of Stage 2.

Reddick was chewing up the distance between himself and Bowman lap after lap, climbing from outside the top-10 up to second place. It appeared to only be a matter of time before he would be at Bowman’s bumper and the two would have to battle it out for the win.

However, Bowman caught a break when Reddick got into the wall on the final lap as he was chasing Bowman down, eventually falling some three seconds back.

From there on out, Bowman was able to get back around to the flag, securing the win and lifting a huge weight off his back.

Once again, he was a NASCAR Cup Series winner. And you better bet he’s going to celebrate it to the fullest.

“Anytime you go to the racetrack with Hendrick Motorsports, you’ve got a shot,” Bowman said.

“We have a trophy to take home, and know it means a lot to this team. They put me in position to win the race.

“Man, I broke my back, had a brain injury, and we’ve kind of sucked ever since, and I didn’t — you start to second-guess if you’re ever going to get a chance to win a race again.

“Last one we won, we didn’t really get to celebrate. We’re going to drink so much damn bourbon tonight, it’s going to be a bad deal. I’m probably going to wake up naked on the bathroom floor again. That’s just part of this deal sometimes.

“Just thanks to Ally and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports, everybody that makes this deal go round.”

For Bowman, the theatrics didn’t stop when the checkered flag flew as Bubba Wallace showed his displeasure with him for an incident the two had earlier in the race prior to the rain delay. As he circulated on his cool down lap, Wallace came by and side-swiped him, but it was no harm, no foul for Bowman.

Bowman acknowledged the incident afterwards, shouldering the blame for the run-in he and Wallace had earlier in the race and apologized for it.

“I have to apologize again to the 23 guys. Just messed up, trying to get my windshield wiper on, missed a corner and ruined their day. I hate that. I’m still embarrassed about it.”

After his last lap brush with the wall, it was a game of what if for Reddick, who looked to have the pace to chase down Bowman and surpass him, but he would have to settle for second-place instead.

“I’m upset,” Reddick said. “I was catching Alex (Bowman) by a large margin there. I don’t know. That puzzles me. I clearly just screwed up. Trying to stay in the dry groove and I had more than enough room of dry groove. Yeah, I cut the wheel a little too hard — just not focused enough, I guess.

“I knew I was going to get to him and the earlier I could get to him the more options I would have, and it was going to get a little bit more slick off line beyond turn 8. Yeah, just didn’t even give ourselves a shot to race him unfortunately. I hate it. Not what this Jordan Brand Toyota Camry is about and what this team is about. Just got to start capitalizing on these ones.”

Ty Gibbs was able to rebound to third at the finish, with Joey Hand scoring a career-best fourth for the RFK Stage 60 program, and Michael McDowell recovering from an errant strategy call early in the race to round out the top-five finishers.

Christopher Bell, who looked to be one of the favorites prior to the end of the second stage, would finish the day back in 37th place after getting wrecked with three laps to go. For the second year in a row at Chicago, Bell had a strong effort with nothing to show for it at the end of the day.

Coming into the race, both Shane van Gisbergen and Kyle Larson were the presumptive favorites to take home the win, with van Gisbergen looking for the weekend sweep to keep his Chicago winning sweep alive and Larson aiming to add another win to his already impressive resume.

However, the chaos of the rain in the early part of the second stage saw his chances erased when contact from Chase Briscoe sent him into the concrete wall on the outside of Turn 6, ending his day well short of the finish. He would be credited with a 40th place result.

Larson, naturally became the driver that everyone was watching from that point, but shortly after the race resumed from the rain delay, he too found problems when Turn 6 once again became calamity corner.

Coming into the left-hander, Larson locked up under braking, sending him into a four wheel slide head on into the tire barrier, leaving him buried windshield deep. Though he was able to pull out under power, the damage was just too much for him to be able to continue and retired a short time later.

“I assume I just locked it up. As soon as I hit the brakes, it was not slowing down. I was just going to try and end up wherever I ended up. But yeah, it smashed the car up pretty good. It’s just unfortunate..

“I’m bummed. It just caught me off guard. You push the brake zones a little bit more each lap as you’re getting more comfortable, but it just surprised me.”

NASCAR Chicago Street Race Results

1848Alex BowmanAlly Chevrolet58Running
2445Tyler ReddickJordan Brand Toyota58Running
3254Ty GibbsMonster Energy Toyota58Running
43860* Joey Ford58Running
5334Michael McDowellChicago White Sox Ford58Running
63347Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Mariano’s/Colgate Optic White Chevrolet58Running
72638Todd Gillilandgener8tor Ford58Running
82724William ByronRelay Payments Chevrolet58Running
9198Kyle Buschzone Chevrolet58Running
101712Ryan BlaneyMenards/Dutch Boy Ford58Running
11999Daniel SuarezJockey x Folds of Honor Chevrolet58Running
123531Daniel HemricCirkul Chevrolet58Running
13623Bubba WallaceMcDonald’s Toyota58Running
142810Noah GragsonBass Pro Shops Winchester Ford58Running
15212Austin CindricDiscount Tire Ford58Running
162351Justin HaleyPinnacle Home Improvement Ford58Running
173071Zane Smith #Focused Health Chevrolet58Running
18106Brad KeselowskiElk Grove Village Ford58Running
19153Austin DillonGet Bioethanol Chevrolet58Running
201617Chris BuescherFastenal Ford58Running
21189Chase ElliottNAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet58Running
22141Ross ChastainBusch Light Peach Chevrolet58Running
233222Joey LoganoShell Pennzoil Ford58Running
241377Carson Hocevar #Zeigler Auto Group Chevrolet58Running
253121Harrison BurtonMotorcraft/Quick Lane Ford58Running
264015Kaz Grala n’ Bone Ford58Running
27207Corey LaJoieCelsius Chevrolet58Running
283966* Josh Bilicki(i)Purekick Hydration Ford58Running
292543Erik JonesAdventHealth Toyota58Running
301111Denny HamlinSport Clips Haircuts Toyota58Running
313433* Austin Hill(i)United Rentals Chevrolet58Running
322214Chase BriscoeMahindra Compact Tractors Ford58Running
332419Martin Truex Jr.Bass Pro Shops Toyota58Running
342941Ryan Ford58Running
351242John Hunter NemechekDollar Tree Toyota57Running
36364Josh Berry Ford57Running
37720Christopher BellCRAFTSMAN Racing For A Miracle Toyota55Accident
383713* AJ Allmendinger(i)Benesch Chevrolet48Accident
3915Kyle LarsonValvoline Chevrolet33Accident
40516Shane Van Gisbergen(i)Wendy’s Saucy Nuggs Chevrolet24Accident

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.