By David Morgan, Associate Editor
Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
Alex Bowman has brought that saying to life over the past three weeks, scoring runner-up finishes at Talladega, Dover, and once again in Saturday night’s Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway.
While the end result was another second-place finish, Bowman looked to have his best chance to finally break through and score his first win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on the 1.5-mile track just outside of Kansas City.
“Not very proud of myself on lane choice there at the end,” Bowman said. “Just made some bad decisions and really shouldn’t have ever given the 2 car a chance at it. But just made some bad calls there through lap traffic and got tied off, had to lift, and then the 2 was able to drive around us.”
Starting the day in fifth-place, Bowman ran in the top-five until the team had a setback in the first stage when he had to make a second trip down pit road for a loose lugnut under caution on lap 60. Despite having to restart back in 29th, Bowman made it all the way to 14th by the end of the stage, noting he was a little too loose in the center of the corner.
Back in the top-10 when the second stage began, the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet showed his machine was going to be a force to be reckoned with as the night played out as he held steady in the top-five, even leading for a lap during a green flag pit stop cycle. When the green-checkered flag flew to end the stage, Bowman was fourth.
When Kevin Harvick was forced to pit from the lead on lap 179, it was Bowman’s gain as he took over the lead for the second time of the night and set sail. Only his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. seemed to be able to keep pace with him as he held onto the top spot for an additional 62 laps.
However, when lapped traffic came into play late in the race, a new player entered the fray in the form of Brad Keselowski.
Bowman gave it all he had to try and hold off the hard-charging No. 2 Ford, but when he had to lift out of the gas due to a lapped car ahead of him on the track, Keselowski took advantage and was able to get past him and take over the lead.
It looked as if Keselowski would walk away with the win as Bowman struggled to regain his lost track position, but a caution with three laps to go bunched the field back up and gave the young Hendrick Motorsports driver one more shot at trying to best the 2012 series champion and take home the trophy.
Though he gave it all he had, Keselowski was too strong on the final restart in overtime and Bowman had to settle for yet another second-place finish.
I’ve never wanted something so bad. Not going to lie, this one hurts. My team has worked like crazy though to get us to where we’re at, and I’m proud of what we’ve done. Going to keep after it to get that win we deserve 👊🏼
— Alex Bowman (@AlexBowman88) May 12, 2019
Despite the disappointment about the runner-up finish, Bowman has already turned his attention toward the next two weekends at Charlotte Motor Speedway and making the most out of the strong performance his team has produced over the last month.
“Really proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports,” he said. “Our race cars are so much better than what we started the year with, and AXALTA, Nationwide, Llumar, Valvoline, everybody that lets me get to drive race car for a living, really appreciative. Wish we were standing here with three wins in a row and things could have gone differently and that could be the case, but we’ll keep digging next week and try to go get in the All-Star, go win the All-Star and then go try to win the 600.”