Alex Bowman scored his third career win in the NASCAR Cup Series by charging past Denny Hamlin off the final restart at Richmond Raceway.
Bowman came off pit road third and then chose the inside lane to restart third with 12 laps remaining. Race leader Denny Hamlin got the launch on the restart, but Bowman quickly overtook Joey Logano for the second position and then got to Hamlin’s inside a lap later. Ultimately, he completed the winning pass in Turns 1 and 2 and drove away.
.@Alex_Bowman is on a mission!
The No. 48 takes the lead at @RichmondRaceway! pic.twitter.com/3AK4DrB8LA
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 18, 2021
“Just a badass race car, just as simple as that,” Bowman said. “Greg Ives (crew chief) and all the guys have to deal with me at short tracks, and I drive these places really wrong, and we kind of instead trying to make me figure it out went to work on getting the race car where I needed it to be. Greg has done such an amazing job making that happen.”
Bowman rebounded from an uncontrolled tire at the end of the second stage. The victory is his first this season and gives Hendrick Motorsports three wins with three different drivers in the through nine races. It is Bowman’s first victory in the No. 48 Chevrolet, and the first for sponsor Ally.
Hamlin said he didn’t take off well on the final restart. For the second straight week, Hamlin led the most laps, only to be passed for the win in the closing laps. Sunday, Hamlin won both stages at Richmond and led 207 of 400 laps.
The run to the finish was set up by a caution when Kevin Harvick lost a right rear tire and crashed in Turn 1 with 18 laps to go. At the time, Hamlin had been pressuring Joey Logano for the race lead and ended up beating Logano off pit road to control the final restart.
“We just didn’t take off quite as good there at the end,” Hamlin said. “I tried to warm it up and do everything that I could – just the 48 (Alex Bowman) had a little more on those last few laps and I couldn’t hold the bottom. Once he got the position, we were just shut down there.”
Take a look at what happened to @KevinHarvick’s @StewartHaasRcng machine with less than 25 to go in today’s race. pic.twitter.com/u2ckVz559P
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 18, 2021
Logano finished third. Completing the top five was Christopher Bell in fourth and Martin Truex Jr. in fifth.
Aric Almirola finished sixth, William Byron seventh, and Kyle Busch eighth. Matt DiBenedetto finished ninth, and Austin Dillon rounded out the top 10 finishers.
Most of the Toyota Owners 400 consisted of long green-flag runs, leaving just 14 cars on the lead lap at the finish.
Bowman entered the weekend looking for some good fortune after what he admits has been a rough start to the year with rocky results. That includes a promising run at Martinsville last weekend ending in the multi-car crash on the backstretch. Richmond is just his second top-five finish of the season, and he led 10 laps on his way to winning.
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“To be honest with you, we were terrible on short runs,” Bowman said. “We restarted third, and I’m like, ‘Man if we get out of here with a solid top-five, we’ll be good.’ We’ve overcome a lot today. I don’t know if Greg pumped the (tire) pressures way up or what he did, but that’s more grip than I’ve ever had in a race car at Richmond, and it worked out really well.
“Getting to race a guy like Denny at a place that this is really cool. I feel like we raced each other really clean, so I’m appreciative of that. It means a lot.”