A first-time winner is a bridesmaid no more, a shot at redemption in the Windy City came up one spot short once again and could one of the most iconic organizations in NASCAR be back after slumping for a couple years?
Here's what went down this weekend in the racing world.
Bowman The Showman
About time he lived up to his nickname...
All kidding aside, Alex Bowman's first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory is one that should be celebrated and reflected upon. After all, this guy has gone through a LOT in his short career.
From running with back marker teams for 2-3 years, getting fired from one of those teams and finding out via Twitter, filling in for injured Dale Earnhardt Jr., making a good enough impression on Rick Hendrick to put him in the car full-time once Earnhardt retires, but was a simulator and test driver for Hendrick Motorsports in the meantime, gets the No. 88 ride, finishes second three times this season, his sponsor, Nationwide, announces they're leaving after the season, and then he goes out and wins?
Yeah, you can get Bowman celebrated this one.
To everybody who doubted... pic.twitter.com/m3jwiNyM6s— Alex Bowman (@AlexBowman88) July 1, 2019
Highlight of the night was people chugging bottles of maple syrup for cash. It was a scene straight out of super troopers. pic.twitter.com/ApcdpJod7V— Alex Bowman (@AlexBowman88) July 1, 2019
"This is all I ever wanted," Bowman said in the media center. "I’m just tired of running second. I don’t want to do that anymore. So, I feel like this is the last box, aside from chasing the championship, I needed it personally for myself, to validate my career. I feel like obviously there’s a lot more left to accomplish but this is always what I hear is ‘you haven’t won a race’."
So Close For Larson ... Again
Remember 2018's classic "SLIDE JOB!" finish with the Kyle and Kyle show? Well, the same Kyle who came up short last season did again in 2019.
Kyle Larson ran down and passed Bowman for the lead with eight laps to go from over two seconds back. But Bowman wasn't going to be denied, as he pulled a power move down low and passed Larson back two laps later, forcing the No. 42 to settle for his second top five finish (Dover) of the season.
“All of a sudden I was like, ‘Oh wow, we’re catching him and caught him pretty quickly and was able to get by him pretty quickly," Larson told NBC Sports post-race. "Thought that I could pull away. He was able to get a big run on me and get to my inside and then sidedraft me on the backstretch to get by. He did a good job of hitting his marks and getting the balance back underneath him to hold me off.”
Is Hendrick Back?
Sure, Chase Elliott has a victory this season for Hendrick Motorsports (plus three last season). But seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is in the midst of the longest drought of his career, William Byron's rookie campaign in 2018 left some to be desired and Bowman's first win just occured.
Could this be the weekend where HMS got over the hump? Time will tell, but with all four of their cars running inside the top 10 for most of the race and showing consistent speed, something thet haven't done in awhile, has got to give their drivers confidence moving forward.
"I’m extremely happy for Hendrick Motorsports," Johnson told NBC Sports following a fourth-place finish. "I can’t wait to see Alex and congratulate him and this No. 48 team is smiling. It was a good night.”
"We, as a team, are really close," Byron told NBC Sports following nis ninth-place result. "It’s a little disappointing now that we have the speed that we do, but it’s good to take the lead at some point in the race. I think that’s six or seven in a row for that, so we just have to continue to do that. It’s good for Alex (Bowman) and hopefully we can piggy-back on that. I think we had another good points day, which doesn’t sound great, but we are making our way up the playoff grid.”
This upcoming weekend, NASCAR makes it's annual summer pilgrammage to Daytona International Speedway on July 4 weekend for the Coke Zero 400, scheduled to go green on Saturday evening (July 7) at 7:30 p.m. EST on NBC.