TALLADEGA, Ala. — Alex Bowman was able to savor a solid 1-2 finish for Hendrick Motorsports as he came up just one spot shy of teammate Chase Elliott, the eventual race winner Sunday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway.
A field-freezing caution after a pair of final-lap crashes thwarted Bowman’s chances of mounting a charge to win the GEICO 500. But scuttle any thought that the driver of the No. 88 was content to settle in for a comfortable, career-best second-place day with the checkered flag in the balance.
“Oh, I was going to be selfish as hell coming to the start-finish line there,” Bowman said, “but we just didn’t make it that far.”
Bowman led eight laps Sunday — his first this season — and spent plenty of time among the contenders in the final stage of the 188-lap race. Just before bedlam erupted on the backstretch on the final circuit, Bowman said that crew chief Greg Ives had implored him to make his move earlier, anticipating the chaos.
Though the potential for a final push to the front came up short, Bowman was able to taste his first top-five since placing fourth in the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course race last September. It also topped Bowman’s previous career-best, a third-place effort at Pocono Raceway last July.
All of the superlatives provided a boost for a team and a driver that had yet to crack the top 10 this season.
WATCH: Last laps at ‘Dega
“It feels great just to get the monkey off our back,” Bowman said. “This year’s been horrendous. It’s been pretty embarrassing, quite honestly, the mistakes that I’ve made and the amount of things that we’ve kind of let happen and caused on ourselves. Really good execution today and really proud to kind of reset after that off weekend and hopefully keep the momentum going.”