Bowman’s in top gear with another 2nd place finish

Alex Bowman

DOVER — Alex Bowman had gone his entire Monster Energy Cup Series career without finishing in the top-two.

He’s now done it in back-to-back weeks.

The only thing better would be a win, but the 26-year-old is riding high after the past couple of weeks.

Bowman finished second behind only Martin Truex Jr. in the Gander RV 400 Monday at Dover International Speedway after Sunday’s event was washed out. The result followed up his first career second-place finish a week ago at Talladega.

Bowman has now moved from 21st to 13th in points over the last two weeks.

“We had a miserable start to the season,” Bowman said post-race. “We did a really good job resetting after the off week and we’ve come out strong since then.”

While Bowman and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates did look fast in practice this weekend, there weren’t many signs he would have such a strong run on Monday,

First off, his career-best finish at Dover entering the weekend was 20th.

Then there was the pre-race penalty. Bowman’s No. 88 car failed pre-race inspection multiple times, meaning he had to start at the rear of the pack.

It wiped away his fifth-place qualifying effort but Bowman worked his way up through the field and even took the lead during the second stage of the race.

It took only nine laps for Bowman to crack into the top-10 despite starting 34th.

“It’d be better if we had a trophy,” Bowman said. “But we needed this for sure. Talladega is a speedway and there’s a lot of luck involved. To come here which is the hardest race track we go to in my opinion, and run like that from the back was pretty special. I’m just proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports.”

Bowman made one of the rare green flag passes for the lead on Monday as he maneuvered around teammate Chase Elliott in the second stage.

Bowman, who has never won a stage, much less a race, was caught by Truex, the eventual winner. Bowman slid up the track in Turn One on the final lap as Truex moved underneath to capture the second stage.

Bowman never got ahead of Truex the rest of the way but kept everyone else behind him too for second.

“I’m worn out,” Bowman said. “That’s the physically hardest race of the year for sure.”

Since taking over for Dale Earnhardt Jr. after his retirement, Bowman has turned a corner in his Cup Series career.

Bowman earned 11 top-10s last season and three top-fives in his first year driving the No. 88. Before 2018 he had zero top-fives and only three top-10s in his career.

His best finish last season was third at Pocono and he’s topped that twice in the last two weeks. All that’s left to do now is visit Victory Lane for the first time.

“We had a shot at it,” Bowman said. “That’s really all you can ask for.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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