By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
The driver nicknamed ‘The Showman,’ Alex Bowman scored his first top-10 finish of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. The last time Bowman competed at Martinsville Speedway was 2015.
Bowman’s No. 88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 came to life late in the STP 500. He hovered just outside the top-10 for most of the first 400 laps. With about 40 laps to go, Bowman, and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott, were the only two drivers as fast as eventual race-winner Clint Bowyer. However, there just was not enough time left in the race and he settled for a seventh-place finish.
The race, which was postponed by a day because of several inches of snow, was a brisk one. With only four cautions, three of which were NASCAR mandated, there was little time for Bowman’s crew chief, Greg Ives, to make changes to his Chevrolet.
“I think most everything we did was air pressure just because big changes take so long on pit stops now,” Bowman said.
“So, just small changes. Got some different stuff in the car air pressure wise so I could play with the trackbar a little bit and it seemed to work out. So, definitely felt like the end of the run we fell off a little more than we wanted to. We were trying to go get that No. 22 (Joey Logano) and just kind of fell off too much at the end. Definitely solid changes all day.”
Entering Martinsville, Bowman was the highest in points of any Hendrick Motorsports driver but had no top-10s to show for it. Before today’s race, his best finish this season had been 13th, twice.
“It’s frustrating to say we are looking for a seventh,” Bowman admitted about only now finishing inside the top-10, “but much better than we have been the last couple of weeks and just happy for all my guys.
“They have worked really hard all off season and all year. We haven’t had the results we wanted, so to come here and finish stronger is definitely a step in the right direction. We’ve got a long way to go, but we are headed the right way.”
The seventh-place finish moves Bowman into 14th in points. He is still the best of Hendrick Motorsports, despite being 112-points behind Championship Points leader Kyle Busch. The seventh-place finish is just the fourth top-10 finish of Bowman’s career.
Now Bowman, Ives, and the entire No. 88 Nationwide team will have two weeks to prepare for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8.