Editor’s note: This is the beginning of a series where we review the top 20 drivers in 2023 NASCAR Cup Series points.
Season in review: Alex Bowman
No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Crew Chief: Blake Harris
Final 2023 Ranking: 20th
Key stats: 0 wins, four top fives, 10 top 10s, 89 laps led
How 2023 ended: Bowman did not qualify for the playoffs for the first time in the six seasons he’s driven the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevy full-time. He had only two top-10 finishes (at Kansas and the Charlotte Roval) and led laps in only two races in the final 10-race stretch to close the season. This marked the first time since 2019 that Bowman did not earn a victory and the first time since 2018 that he did not qualify for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
Best race: Bowman’s best finish of the season was third place — something he did at Las Vegas and matched at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) road course. His 19 laps led at Michigan was his largest one-race tally this season.
Other season highlights: The irony of Bowman’s uncharacteristically lackluster season finish was that he started the year off so strongly. He had top-10 finishes in six of the first seven races, including the season’s first four events. His fifth-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500 was a career-best in that race at that track. Bowman added two pole positions to his career total, earning a third pole position for the Daytona 500 and then another in April at Richmond, where he led laps and finished eighth. He finished outside the top 20 only once — 29th place in the Bristol dirt event — in the opening 10 races of the season before he suffered a back injury driving a sprint car in a mid-week race.
Stat to Know: Bowman earned his third career pole position for the Daytona 500 and became the first driver in history to start from the front row in six straight Daytona 500 races.
Quotable: “So many bad days, I didn’t have a choice because the way 2023 has gone for me on and off the race track, I had to figure it out. That’s just part of life. Regardless of what the stat sheet shows, I feel like I’ve learned a lot this year and hopefully am better for it.”
Looking ahead: Bowman has had an unusually tough road the last two seasons, missing three races this year after suffering a severe back injury while competing in a mid-week sprint car race and missing five races in 2022 because of concussion protocol. When having the opportunity to contest an entire season in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy, however, Bowman has turned in promising statistics and made a run at the title, winning a single-season career-high four races in 2021 and finishing a career-best sixth in the championship in 2020. He’s with a championship team in a championship car, and if he can stay healthy, Bowman should be a weekly race favorite and, ultimately, a title contender.