NASCAR race results: Alex Bowman scores upset win at Richmond

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Alex Andrejev
·8 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

It didn’t look like Alex Bowman’s race to win, and yet his No. 48 Chevrolet powered to the lead after a late-race restart to secure his first win of the season at Richmond. Bowman put two veterans in his mirror after late-race adjustments and found himself in Victory Lane. He sounded just as surprised as his competitors.

“I can’t believe we just did that at Richmond,” Bowman told his stunned team on the radio. “That’s amazing.”

Denny Hamlin was leading with fewer than 20 laps remaining in the 400-lap event and Joey Logano on his tail in second place, but a hard spin into the wall by Kevin Harvick forced a late caution flag. Bowman had bounced back from an uncontrolled tire penalty earlier in the race to line up just behind Hamlin on the inside lane for the final restart. Logano was on the outside lane.

But when the race went green, it didn’t matter where either of the earlier leaders were because Bowman fired off. He led the final 10 laps of the race, the only laps he led Sunday.

“My strong suit all day was being able to get into the corner really deep,” Bowman said post-race. “I was able to get in deep, beside Denny. I knew I had the preferred lane, could probably clear him. I figured he would get right back to me and be faster than us.

“When we drove away, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. What’s happening?’” Bowman said.

Meanwhile, the always-the-bridesmaid narrative continues for Hamlin, who led 207 laps of the race at his hometown track and swept the first two stages. He finished in second place. Logano finished third.

Hamlin dominates early, but can’t close

Hamlin said there were “mixed emotions” about his string of top-five finishes that have characterized the year so far. The second place finish was Hamlin’s best in the first nine races this season. His No. 11 Toyota looked like the strongest car Sunday, but the driver complained that he had “no grip” after the final restart.

While Hamlin said it was frustrating to continually finish so close to first, he said that he wouldn’t trade his strong season so far for a single win. (He hasn’t finished lower than fifth in eight of the nine races this year.) For now, at least, the driver seems content to bide his time rather than stress over securing a playoff spot.

“We’re smashing everyone,” Hamlin said. “I’d still rather be where we’re at.”

Pit road penalties hurt Gibbs teams

Other Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas showed their speed at Richmond, but penalties hurt two drivers late in the race.

Martin Truex Jr. received a speeding penalty with around 100 laps remaining, forcing him to serve a pass-through penalty from second place to send him nearly a lap down. He led 108 laps prior to the penalty, relinquishing his battle with Hamlin to the next leading driver Logano in the final stage, but Truex, who has the most wins so far this season (two), still scored a fifth-place finish.

During green flag pit stops later in the race, Kyle Busch was hit with a commitment line violation for failing to have all four tires underneath the box of the commitment line to pit road. Busch also served a pass-through penalty that sent him from the top of the running order.

Both Truex and Busch were able to work their way back into the top-10, with Busch finishing eighth, after expressing early frustration with his car setup. JGR teammate Christopher Bell finished in fourth for an overall strong showing for the Toyota team.

Who did well? Who struggled?

Other strong performances at the Virginia short-track came from Ford drivers Aric Almirola and Matt DiBenedetto, as well as Chevrolet driver Austin Dillon, each of whom finished in the top-10.

Almirola ran a clean event after a crash-marred start to the No. 10’s season. He finished 12th and 10th in the first two stages, respectively, before climbing top a sixth place finish. DiBenedetto and Dillon also hovered consistently in the top-10 in the final stage.

Almirola’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Harvick didn’t fare as well. A blown tire on Harvick’s No. 4 Ford sent his car into the wall to bring out the final caution of the race with fewer than 20 laps to go in what was a relatively wreck-free event. He finished laps down after running in eighth prior the accident and racing one of his most consistent events of the season.

There were only two cautions for incidents throughout the 300-mile race, the first of which occurred in the second stage when Austin Cindric and Ryan Newman made contact as the field went three-wide along with Kyle Larson, to send Newman into the outside wall. Each of those drivers finished multiple laps down.

Brad Keselowski provided the most mid-race drama, but not for a wreck. Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford team opted to play a different pit strategy to put the car out front in the second stage and save a set of tires for later in the race. Keselowski stayed out on older tires while the race leaders pitted to inherit the lead with around 30 laps left in the stage, but tires made all the difference. Keselowski dropped out of the top-10 before the stage finish.

“That’s not how that was supposed to go,” No. 2 crew chief Jeremy Bullins radioed to his driver.

Keselowski finished the race in 14th.

Bowman takes top spot

Instead, it was Bowman’s No. 48 that found some magic in its strategy and late-race adjustments. Crew chief Greg Ives said he was confident about their team’s changes based on earlier experiences at Richmond. He wasn’t surprised that it worked.

Ives said that it’s been a “struggle to get the finish” so far this year despite the team’s speed, and that the “adversity” has helped them.

“The guys have been growing through adversity,” Ives said. “I think that’s the number one thing I can take from this.”

But the adversity for the Hendrick team has come off the track as well. Bowman was emotional in his post-race comments on FOX, mentioning a Hendrick pit crew member, Rowdy Harrell, who was killed in a car accident along with his wife Blakely while the two were on their honeymoon during the offseason.

“He was just a huge part of our team,” Bowman said after the race.

The 27-year-old driver dedicated the win to the couple, and called the victory special for a lot of reasons. Former No. 48 driver and seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson made his Indy Car debut Sunday as Bowman scored his third career Cup win and first victory in the No. 48 Ally car.

“We’re going to win a lot of races this year hopefully,” Bowman said. “I feel like I have a great group of guys behind me to be able to make that happen.”

Richmond race results

Pos.

Car

Driver

Time Behind

Laps

Best Time

Best Speed

1

48

Alex Bowman

--

400

22.76

118.629

2

11

Denny Hamlin

0.381

400

22.358

120.762

3

22

Joey Logano

0.85

400

22.61

119.416

4

20

Christopher Bell

2.11

400

22.913

117.837

5

19

Martin Truex Jr.

2.575

400

22.499

120.005

6

10

Aric Almirola

3.155

400

23.032

117.228

7

24

William Byron

3.812

400

22.878

118.017

8

18

Kyle Busch

3.984

400

22.929

117.755

9

21

Matt DiBenedetto

17.869

400

22.977

117.509

10

3

Austin Dillon

20.145

400

23.047

117.152

11

12

Ryan Blaney

20.491

400

22.672

119.09

12

9

Chase Elliott

20.751

400

22.546

119.755

13

1

Kurt Busch

20.796

400

23.098

116.893

14

2

Brad Keselowski

22.259

400

22.924

117.78

15

42

Ross Chastain

-1

399

22.974

117.524

16

99

Daniel Suárez

-1

399

23.022

117.279

17

47

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

-1

399

23.195

116.404

18

5

Kyle Larson

-2

398

22.76

118.629

19

43

Erik Jones

-2

398

23.225

116.254

20

8

Tyler Reddick

-2

398

23.025

117.264

21

7

Corey LaJoie

-2

398

23.079

116.989

22

14

Chase Briscoe #

-2

398

23.09

116.934

23

41

Cole Custer

-2

398

23.222

116.269

24

4

Kevin Harvick

-3

397

22.758

118.64

25

17

Chris Buescher

-3

397

23.059

117.091

26

23

Bubba Wallace

-3

397

23.12

116.782

27

34

Michael McDowell

-4

396

23.131

116.726

28

33

* Austin Cindric(i)

-4

396

22.957

117.611

29

37

* Ryan Preece

-4

396

23.163

116.565

30

6

Ryan Newman

-5

395

23.096

116.903

31

38

Anthony Alfredo #

-5

395

23.373

115.518

32

78

BJ McLeod(i)

-7

393

23.437

115.202

33

15

James Davison

-10

390

23.649

114.17

34

0

Quin Houff

-10

390

23.473

115.026

35

53

Garrett Smithley(i)

-11

389

23.447

115.153

36

51

Cody Ware(i)

-15

385

23.51

114.845

37

52

Josh Bilicki

-16

384

23.63

114.262

38

77

Justin Haley(i)

-399

1

54.944

49.141