Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Last Lap Caution Denies Bowman’s Daytona 500 Glory

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

The Daytona 500 can be a game of inches. Sometimes it’ll lead to racing glory like William Byron or an absolute gut-punch like his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman, who finished second in Monday’s race.

All as a result of coming up just short of besting Byron when the caution came out.

Due to the runner-up finish, Bowman’s winless streak extends to 67 races dating back to Martinsville in fall 2021. Despite the clear disappointment of losing out on bringing HMS its first 500 win since Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in 2014, Bowman’s outlook was optimistic as he’s looking to turn things around after injuries have sidelined him in each of the last two seasons.

“Just proud of everybody on this No. 48 Ally Chevy team. Super pumped for everybody at Hendrick Motorsports,” said Bowman. “It’s 40 years to the day since the first HMS race, so really cool to see William in victory lane, and obviously a good day for our Ally Camaro, as well.”

For the third time in Daytona 500 history, the 200-lap madness began on a Monday where Bowman was quietly waiting for the right time to make his presence known.

Once the race came down to the wire, Bowman began making his moves. As the field were coming the white flag, Bowman muscled his way to the front just as race leader Byron was coming to take the white flag.

Bowman was the second car in line in the top lane with Ross Chastain, who had just lost the lead moments prior. By that point, AJ Allmendinger and Corey LaJoie began an attempt of breaking up the with Byron and Austin Cindric down low which led to daring decisions for several drivers.

Chastain broke off Bowman and attempted to block Cindric on the bottom and it backfired. Both tangled and slid into the tri-oval grass before the leaders crossed the line. Due to Chastain leaving Bowman, it gave the latter an opportunity of making the top work and had a huge run on Byron.

However, due to Chastain and Cindric colliding which also collected Zane Smith and David Ragan, the race ended under caution.

Therefore, the outcome boiled down to who leading the fray when the caution came out. In the end, it was Bowman who drew the shortest straw and had to see his teammate bring HMS its record-tying ninth Daytona 500 victory.

Unlike Jimmy Spencer in the 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, Bowman wasn’t initially given the win before reversing the decision and having to pull out of victory lane after Bobby Hamilton was declared the winner after multiple replay reviews. NASCAR declared Byron the race winner and was able to celebrate his 11th career win.

“Proud of William and his team,” said Bowman. “They deserved it there at the end. They did all the right things, and I feel like we did too there at the end.

“Had to go up and block the top lane and that just killed the middle for a bit. We got the middle back rolling and then they all started crashing.”

Bowman will head into Atlanta Motor Speedway second in points in this season-long odyssey, trailing Byron by four points.

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media and a three-time National Motorsports Press Association award winner in photography. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. Over the years, Luis has focused on writing, video and photography with ambitions of having his work recognized.