Unlike Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, who secured a spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Round of 8 with his Oct. 7 victory at Dover, Alex Bowman has only one path to the next round of the Playoffs.
Twelfth in the standings and 68-points behind Martin Truex Jr. in eighth, Bowman has to win Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway to keep his championship hopes alive.
Bowman has never won a race in NASCAR’s premier series, and six weeks ago, the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet might have discounted his chances for an 11th-hour victory at Kansas. But the Hendrick cars as a group have shown improved performance of late, and that gives Bowman cause for optimism.
“I think with all the resources we have and the people and the knowledge we have at Hendrick Motorsports, I don’t think anybody is surprised within the organization when a Hendrick car wins,” said Bowman, who was 12th fastest in Friday’s opening practice. “I think we haven’t shown the speed, really, up until probably a month and a half ago, when we went to Vegas and ran really strong.
“I think, up until then, we hadn’t really shown race-winning speed by any means. But over the last month and a half or two months, we’ve improved a lot. And I really don’t think we’d be surprised if we won. It would obviously be great, and the first Cup win would be amazing.”
Bowman also has Kansas City ties that would make a victory on Sunday even more special.
“My dad’s family is from here,” he said, “so that would be pretty cool for them.”