Alex Bowman wanted the trophy but settles for second-straight runner-up finish

DOVER, DE - MAY 06: Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Nationwide Small Business Chevrolet, races during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Gander RV 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 6, 2019 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

After a start to the 2019 season that produced no top-10 finishes in the first nine races, Alex Bowman is finally on a roll.

The successor to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet scored his second straight runner-up finish in Monday’s rain-delayed Gander RV 400 at Dover International Speedway.

And until race winner Martin Truex Jr. took control of the event during the third stage and ran away from the rest of the field, it appeared Bowman might have the car to beat.

Late in Stage 2, Bowman used the top lane at the Monster Mile to his advantage and got past teammate Chase Elliott for the lead. He held it until the final lap of the stage when Truex, who had started in the rear, grabbed the top spot for the first time.

“We were in Martin’s way,” Bowman said. “I wish I was in his way at the end of the race.  We at least had a shot at it. “That’s really all you can ask for.

“So proud of (crew chief) Greg Ives, everybody on this 88 team. We had a miserable start to the season. We did a really good job resetting over the off week. We’ve come out strong since then.

“It would be better if we had a trophy, right? We needed this, for sure. Talladega (where Bowman posted the first of his two second-place runs) is a speedway. It’s a lot of luck involved. To come here to, in my opinion, the hardest race track we go to, run like that from the back of all things, was pretty special.”

Greg Engle