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Alex Bowman claims first Cup win on strong day for Hendrick Motorsports Featured

Posted On Monday, 01 July 2019 00:56 Written by
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Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Axalta Camaro ZL1, celebrates his first career Cup series victory with his crew Sunday, June 30, 2019, at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. 


Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Axalta Camaro ZL1, celebrates his first career Cup series victory with his crew Sunday, June 30, 2019, at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. Photo by Ashley R Dickerson/HHP for Chevy Racing


With so much focus on the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas and Penske Fords so far this year, Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway was refreshing for fans to see. 

New faces up front, struggles from the usual leaders, and some hope that maybe the battle for the Cup will not be a runaway for Joe Gibbs Racing and the killer duo of Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.

Alex Bowman, it seems has different thoughts about this season. So does Hendrick Motorsports. And Chevy isn’t dead yet.

A few thoughts on the day’s action:

* A big congratulations to Alex Bowman. He has been constantly questioned by many who follow the sport since taking over the 88 car from Dale Earnhardt Jr. But he is finally living up to his potential in this 2019 season and has emerged as a team leader in terms of performance. After a long string of 2ndplace finishes, he finally climbed up that one final spot to the summit, and it was not easy. Passing Kyle Larson back after being passed with a few laps remaining was a tough chore, but Bowman came through.
 

* Kyle Larson may be the most snakebit driver I’ve ever seen in the Cup series. He’s wicked fast all the time in any vehicle he drives and one the best pure talents in the field, but whether it’s mechanical issues or just getting outdriven at the end of races, he falls short of wins after close calls more than anyone I’ve seen in a long time. If there’s any consolation, the fact that he’s up there so often is a positive thing. He just needs to seal the deal more.

* Team Hendrick’s day was excellent overall. Jimmie Johnson led laps early in the race, and people were genuinely surprised! I never thought I’d write that about a 7-time champion, but the reality is JJ isn’t what he used to be, at least not recently. So to see him competing in that way again probably was cheered even by those who may have booed him during his days of domination. Oddly enough, Jimmie is almost in a position where he is proving himself all over again to fans, proving he can still compete in the new era of NASCAR and contend for an eighth title.

* No one is saying Gibbs and Penske, the two teams that prior to Sunday had won all but one race this season, are not the favorites still for the title. It’s just nice to know that someone else could be in the hunt. Both Chase Elliott and Bowman will represent Hendrick in the playoffs, most likely Jimmie too. And even though he hasn’t won, Kevin Harvick continues to show he should play a role in how the Cup playoffs play out with his consistently strong runs (even though they’re not ending in Victory Lane so far).

* Chicago is perhaps the most similar track on the circuit to Homestead-Miami Speedway, where the title will be decided in November. That’s good news for title contenders who ran well today. But considering how some of the top teams struggled today, they have a lot to figure out ahead of the finale and some testing at Homestead is probably going to be needed to get answers.

Matt Myftiu can be reached via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

 

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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