There’s still bad blood between Alex Bowman and Austin Dillon.
During last week’s NASCAR Playoffs race at Richmond Raceway, Dillon bumped the left rear of Bowman’s No. 88, sending it spinning up the track. The move was intentional. No. 3 crew chief Danny Stockman specifically told Dillon to “get him back now” after Bowman previously ran into Dillon’s side and shoved him up into William Byron’s car.
“I want to shove that silver spoon he’s been fed on his whole life up his (expletive),” Bowman said over his radio after the run-in.
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Bowman ended up finishing 23rd, right behind Dillon in 22nd.
Only adding fuel to the fire: Bowman is still fighting for a spot in the Round of 12, while Dillon didn’t make the 16-driver postseason field. Bowman fell below the cutline after Richmond and enters Sunday’s Round of 16 elimination race, the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), in 13th — two points fewer than Byron in the 12th and final spot.
“I don’t think there is a relationship there,” Bowman said Friday. “And what the comment was, you heard it. I said what I said. Obviously frustrated with that situation, but I don’t know. I think it hurt his day more than it did mine. We kind of ran where we were going to run anyway, so it’s just frustrating. Got ran all the way to the inside wall down the front straightaway and then just turned. It is what it is. Not immediately worried about it. Typically don’t see him at these places anyway.”
Dillon has never scored a road-course top 10, and he also ended last season’s Roval race in 39th place. Bowman, with two top 10s overall, was fourth.
The Richmond drama went beyond Dillon’s immediate team. It was Richard Childress Racing owner Richard Childress who first told Dillon to “move his (expletive) back if you get to it.”
“I don’t know,” said Bowman, who drives for Hendrick Motorsports. “That’s just part of it. That’s just part of how they operate. RC’s obviously a very involved team owner and is on the radio a lot more than our owner and that’s just part of it. It doesn’t matter. He’s not holding the steering wheel, so I’m not worried about who gave directions to anybody or anything like that. I’m here to advance to the next round this week and handle it in the future.”
For his part, Dillon said, “as far as radio communication, they have every right to be on the radio as much as anybody else on that team.”
The RCR driver thought the incident was over and done with since Bowman had ample opportunity to do something at Richmond and didn’t.
“We raced the rest of the race, and he could have done whatever he wanted to do,” Dillon said prior to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying. “I’m fine with whatever he says. He had an opportunity the rest of the race to do something back and he didn’t, and that to me means we’re square.”
Dillon had made the postseason the previous seasons before the 2019 campaign. He knows playoff drivers will be taking all that they can, but that doesn’t mean he will be a pushover as a driver outside of the field.
“I got to battle it out and be respectful throughout but I can’t be taken advantage of either,” Dillon said. “There’s a line between taking that as a guy that’s not in the playoffs and there’s a line you can cross it. My button had been pushed in that situation. I’ve been on both sides of it. Been in the playoffs the last three years and, yes, I’ve taken advantage of guys because I was in the playoffs. I know that feeling, but at some point, if you take too much, it will come back on you.”
Contributing: RJ Kraft at Charlotte Motor Speedway