Bowman Captures First Cup Win At Chicagoland

Alex Bowman celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. [Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images]

Alex Bowman celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. [Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images]

by Paul Gohde

With several of his challengers falling by the wayside, Alex Bowman held off his final obstacle, one Kyle Larson, to win Sunday’s storm-delayed Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Both drivers were seeking vindication after past issues gave each added incentive to win. For Bowman, it was a need to capture his first Monster Energy Cup Series win after inheriting a competitive ride with Hendrick Motorsports; a win that finally came Sunday after 134 tries. “I’ve worked hard since getting my chance as a sub for Dale Jr.”

And for Larson, it was the second year in a row that a win at Chicago slipped away in the final stages, with victory in sight, after being body-slammed by eventual winner Kyle Busch in 2018.

“This is all I wanted my whole life,” Bowman enthused. “It showed all who said I couldn’t do it; for everyone in the rumor mills that I finally did it.”

What he did was hold off an aggressive Larson, who got his Chip Ganassi Chevrolet past Bowman with seven laps to go, only to see an energized Bowman repass for the win two laps later.

“I thought that after he passed me it might be over, but I didn’t want second, that’s all,” explained the 26-year-old Arizona native whose career was almost ended after suffering horrendous injuries in a midget race several years earlier.

Larson thought that his late-race pass might have been the winning move, only to see the Hendrick Chevrolet come back for more. “I could see him struggle when I was getting to him, and when I got by him, I’m like, all right, good, he’s going to be in my dirty air and get loose,” recalled Larson. “But he got big runs on me down the straightaways, and I think that allowed him to get that run into turn one…and I got tight. I was surprised that I had even got to him.”

Trailing the duo was Joey Logano, whose Team Penske Ford stuck around most of the day while challengers like Kevin Harvick encountered difficulties. “We got better balance in the car after running 12th or 13th all day. I had Alex in my sites at one point, but I couldn’t get a run; not enough to make a move,” the series points leader said. “We got third out of it and I’ll take that.”

Jimmie Johnson was fourth after leading early and Brad Keselowski, who recovered from early-race ills was fifth.

Harvick, whose Stewart-Haas Ford won Stage 2, was perhaps the strongest in the 38-car field. He led five times for 138 laps but was slowed by a venture into the wall on lap 173, eventually finishing 14th.

Bowman wasn’t used to celebrating a victory with post-race antics, and as the remaining crowd cheered his long-awaited first Cup series win, he got his mount stuck in the rain-soaked grassy mud left by the early-afternoon storm. “I finally did it and then I get the car stuck in the mud. It takes a dumb guy to get his car stuck,” he laughed as his crew pushed the Chevrolet out. “I think I’ve finished in every position but first and now this.’

But now the nay-sayers will be quieted, and he can go on without the pressure of winning that first one. Larson, his main challenger, was happy to see Bowman win, even if he himself couldn’t. “He did a good job regrouping and figuring out how to make his car drive better and get the win. I would have liked for him to have to wait another week or so, but happy for him. He’s an open-wheel guy, so cool to see.”

Sounds like Bowman won some respect to go along with his racetrack victory.



  • Team Penske Fords took three of the top six spots, Sunday while Hendrick Chevrolets had four cars in the top 11.
  • The Front Row Motorsports Ford of Cup rookie Matt Tifft failed Sunday morning NASCAR inspection and started 38th. He had qualified 22nd, but that time was disallowed. The car did pass inspection on its second attempt.
  • With afternoon storms forecast for the Chicago area, NASCAR officials moved-up the start time of the Camping World 400 to 2:02 pm (Central time) in order to get in as much racing as possible (read at least half-way) before storms hit. The race was stopped after 11 laps when the severity of the storm became evident.
  • Joe Gibbs Racing’s Xfinity Series driver Christopher Bell recently extended his contract with the team through the 2020 season. The question remains, however, as to which NASCAR series he’s headed. With the Gibbs Cup team maxed-out at four cars, will Bell be happy with another year as an Xfinity driver? Or, is one of the current Cup roster heading elsewhere? According to Bell, “It’s a little too early to tell.”
  • Austin Dillon’s pole-winning run was his sixth in 210 career races and the third in 2019.




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