Drifting across the Virginia finish line, Arizona native, Alex Bowman, shouted in celebration over the radio as the 27-year-old claimed his third career victory in the NASCAR Cup Series.
FOX play-by-play announcer, Mike Joy, described it as a “surprise ending,” at Richmond Raceway. Stewart-Hass Racing driver, Kevin Harvick, blew a right rear tire and brought out a caution with only 20 laps remaining. Bowman charged ahead in the ensuing restart for the third position, taking the lead from Joe Gibbs Racing’s, Denny Hamlin, leading the final ten laps of the race en route to the victory.
“To be honest, we were terrible on short runs,” Bowman said postrace on FOX. “Getting to race a guy like Denny at a place like this is really cool.”
Let the party begin! 🏁
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 18, 2021
Denny Hamlin is a three-time winner at the Richmond three-quarter-mile track and led the most laps on the day. Bowman and the No. 48 team overcame a pit road penalty at lap 240, just shy of the halfway point of the race, leading only the final ten laps to beat Hamlin on the final run of the race. It was the first victory for the legendary 48 since 2017, and the first NASCAR victory for Ally Bank as a sponsor.
Bowman was emotional in his victory lane interview on FOX, dedicating the race to Rowdy Harrell, a Hendrick Motorsports crew member, and his wife, Blakley, who were tragically killed in an automobile accident during the offseason in Florida.
“This one’s for Rowdy and his family.”
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 18, 2021
The former Ironwood Ridge High School student earned the Daytona 500 pole to open the 2021 season, a race that fellow Arizona native, Michael McDowell won his first career Cup race. The two State 48 natives are now locked into the NASCAR Playoffs if 16 drivers or less win in the 2021 regular season. This year marks the first NASCAR season where two different drivers from Arizona win a Cup Series race.
This is Bowman’s first victory after moving to the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48, formerly driven by seven-time NASCAR champion, Jimmie Johnson. Bowman was formerly racing the No. 88 for Team Hendrick directly following the retirement of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Bowman became the first-ever Arizonan to claim a Cup Series win at Chicagoland in June of 2019. The rest of 2019 wouldn’t be as kind to Bowman, only picking up three more top-fives and was eliminated from the NASCAR Playoffs in the Round of 12. Learn more about Bowman from when he joined “The Inside Lane” prior to the 2021 Phoenix race in March.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) April 18, 2021
Bowman grew up in Tucson racing dirt midgets at local tracks, becoming a USAC National Focus Midget Champion in 2008 and the USAC National Midget Rookie of the Year in 2009. After a life-threatening crash in Las Vegas in 2010, Bowman stepped away from dirt racing and move to North Carolina to pursue a career in stock car racing.
The win locks Bowman into the NASCAR Playoffs, an elimination bracket-style postseason that takes place in the final ten races of the season. If he can advance the championship, he’ll battle for his first career championship at his home track of Phoenix Raceway.
NASCAR’s next stop is at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama on Sunday, April 25. Next time NASCAR is in Phoenix, they’ll be crowning four champions during Championship Weekend at Phoenix Raceway, with the Cup Series championship race on November 7.
We just did that! Never count us out.
We’re here to stay🤘🏼 pic.twitter.com/HpWlJ8r84q
— Alex Bowman (@Alex_Bowman) April 18, 2021