New season bringing more intensity

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RICHMOND, VIRGINIA - APRIL 02: Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, poses for a photo as William Byron, driver of the #24 Liberty University Chevrolet, enters his car during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway on April 02, 2022 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Defending Richmond Raceway NASCAR Cup Series winner Alex Bowman addressed the media Saturday morning and acknowledged that the style of competition in all three national series has become increasingly aggressive. And he expects it to be no different in the first short track test of the Next Gen car this weekend.

Bowman, who was involved in a pair of accidents in the frantic last laps of racing in both the Camping World Truck Series and NACAR Cup Series events at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) last week, said he agreed with series veteran Denny Hamlin who questioned the level of early-season intensity on social media this week.

“I think the Playoff format has a lot to do with that, but I think we’ve seen that over the course of the years,” said Bowman, who finished runner-up at COTA in the NASCAR Cup Series race after a last lap tussle with race winner Ross Chastain.

“You’ve seen people spin people out at the end of the races and get pretty physical at the end of the races for a long time. I think there’s some new guys in the series that are extremely aggressive. Everyone knows how aggressive Ross (Chastain) is at all times. A.J. (Allmendinger) is an aggressive driver too.

“I don’t necessarily think it has changed as much as Denny (Hamlin) thinks, maybe,” he continued. “But I think there’s a reason and if you have to put your finger on it, it would be the Playoff format How much winning matters and sometimes you can overcome those guys hating you for that trophy.”

For his part, Hamlin was asked Saturday is there any consequences to the rough racing.

“Not really,” Hamlin said. “I don’t think there is any consequences to it. We’ve seen you can kind of do whatever. You might be worried about getting wrecked here and there in the future, but I think it’s just become accepted. The art of passing is just something that isn’t quite used as much now-a-days. The easier route is getting them out of your way as quick as possible by moving them. I’ve done it – every time I’ve done it, it has been unintentional, but I think it’s become more of an intentional move in the years lately.”

Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service
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