Alex Bowman needs another rally to advance in Cup Playoffs

KANSAS CITY, KANSAS - OCTOBER 18: Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, drives during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 18, 2019 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

With a second-place finish on Sept. 29 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course, Alex Bowman did just enough to advance to the Round of 12 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

But even if Bowman should match the runner-up result he posted in the spring in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), it might not be enough to stay in contention for the championship.

After wrecking out of last Monday’s rain-delayed race at Talladega, Bowman comes to the elimination race at Kansas 18 points below the cut line for the Round of 8 in the Playoffs and likely needing a victory to advance.

“I think if you had to pick a track for us to run well at and it wasn’t Chicago, it would probably be here,” said Bowman, who collected his first win in NASCAR’s premier series earlier this season at Chicagoland Speedway. “I feel like we’re really confident coming into here.

“But, at the same time, it’s just tough. We’re in a bigger hole than we were going into the ROVAL by quite a bit. We’re there against last year’s champion (Joey Logano); he’s the next guy in front of us. It’s going to be tough. To make it without a win, would take a lot to happen, I feel like. So we’re just focused on going out and hopefully getting a win.”

That doesn’t mean Bowman will try to change his approach at Kansas.

“I feel like when you try to step your game up or change what you’re doing, you end up making mistakes and not executing well,” Bowman said. “We’re kind of business as usual. Obviously, our 1.5-mile program is our strongest program. We were really strong here in the spring. I feel like we’ve only gotten stronger since then.

“We have a great race car here, and we just have to go execute. Obviously, it’s not an optimal point situation. But all we can do is all we can do. We’re pretty much in a must-win situation. That’s tough, but if we don’t make it, the sun is still going to come up on Monday. If we have a good day and still don’t make it, we were a Talladega away from making it. That’s just part of the sport.”

Greg Engle