Alex Bowman lived up to his nickname Sunday as the “Showman” taking center stage and the win at Richmond. Bowman took the lead from a dominate Denny Hamlin with 10 laps to go and left Hamlin behind as he cruised to his third career NASCAR Cup series victory.
“We just had a great race car; it’s as simple as that,” Bowman said. “Greg Ives (Crew Chief) and all the guys, they have to deal with me at short tracks and I drive these places really wrong. We kind of instead of trying to make me figure it out, we went to work on getting the race car where I needed it to be. Greg has done such an amazing job at making that happen.”
The final pass was set up by the races fifth and final caution brought out when Kevin Harvick running eighth at the time lost a tire and slammed the wall in Turn 1.
Up to that point the battle for the lead was among Hamlin and Joey Logano. Logano was leading with Hamlin pressuring when the caution came out. Hamlin won the race off pit road followed by Logano. On the restart, Bowman charged from third on the inside passing first Logano then Hamlin. Bowman would win by .381 of a second over Hamlin.
“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 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 (Hamlin) 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.”
Logano, who led 49 laps, held on for third followed by Christopher Bell and Martin Truex Jr. who led 107 laps and rallied back from a pit road speeding penalty to finish fifth.
“The adjustments they made on that final pit stop definitely made it start firing off really well,” Logano said of Bowman. “He started to pay the penalty the last couple laps but he was so far out, it didn’t matter.
“We were just so close with the Shell Pennzoil Mustang and wanted to get our Ford in victory lane here. We led some laps, made the pass on Denny Hamlin. He and I had a lot of fun with it going back and forth.
“I just hate being that close,” Logano added.
Hamlin led a race high 207 laps and looked to be the car to beat sweeping both stages but had to settle for another second place, his eighth top five finish through the first nine races of the 2021 season.
“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.”
Aric Almirola, William Byron, Kyle Busch, Matt DiBenedetto and Austin Dillon rounded out the top 10.
The win was the first at Richmond for Hendrick Motorsports since 2008, when Jimmie Johnson won the fall race, in the No. 48.
The NASCAR Cup Series’ next race is the GEICO 500, next Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.
NASCAR Cup Series Race ResultsTOYOTA OWNERS 400
Sunday, April 18, 2021
- (24) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 400.
- (2) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 400.
- (5) Joey Logano, Ford, 400.
- (8) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 400.
- (1) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 400.
- (22) Aric Almirola, Ford, 400.
- (4) William Byron, Chevrolet, 400.
- (10) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 400.
- (16) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 400.
- (11) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 400.
- (7) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 400.
- (3) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 400.
- (17) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 400.
- (20) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 400.
- (18) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 399.
- (27) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 399.
- (14) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 399.
- (6) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 398.
- (30) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 398.
- (13) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 398.
- (36) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 398.
- (26) Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 398.
- (21) Cole Custer, Ford, 398.
- (9) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 397.
- (12) Chris Buescher, Ford, 397.
- (15) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 397.
- (23) Michael McDowell, Ford, 396.
- (38) Austin Cindric(i), Ford, 396.
- (25) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 396.
- (19) Ryan Newman, Ford, 395.
- (29) Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, 395.
- (35) BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 393.
- (28) James Davison, Chevrolet, 390.
- (32) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 390.
- (37) Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 389.
- (33) Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 385.
- (31) Josh Bilicki, Ford, 384.
- (34) Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, Engine, 1.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 96.282 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 6 Mins, 57 Secs. Margin of Victory: .381 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 5 for 39 laps.
Lead Changes: 20 among 7 drivers.
Lap Leaders: M. Truex Jr. 1-32;D. Hamlin 33-103;M. Truex Jr. 104-136;D. Hamlin 137;J. Logano 138;B. Keselowski 139-142;A. Dillon 143;M. Truex Jr. 144-183;J. Logano 184-185;B. Keselowski 186-206;D. Hamlin 207-292;J. Logano 293;M. Truex Jr. 294;D. Hamlin 295-334;J. Logano 335-341;D. Hamlin 342;K. Busch 343;M. Truex Jr. 344;J. Logano 345-382;D. Hamlin 383-390;A. Bowman 391-400.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Denny Hamlin 6 times for 207 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 5 times for 107 laps; Joey Logano 5 times for 49 laps; Brad Keselowski 2 times for 25 laps; Alex Bowman 1 time for 10 laps; Austin Dillon 1 time for 1 lap; Kyle Busch 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 11,19,22,24,12,20,48,3,2,4
Stage #2 Top Ten: 11,19,22,48,4,21,18,24,20,10