The Desert Drivers: Midseason Updates

Arizonans are making headlines across national motorsports as we head into Mother’s Day Weekend. With NASCAR heading to a Saturday night race and the conclusion of the Supercross season, let’s look at some Arizona natives making noise in 2019.

Hitting the Stride

Tucson’s Alex Bowman is on a hot streak with back-to-back top two finishes the past two weeks. Unfortunately, neither of those top two’s was a first-place finish. Bowman picked up a second-place finish at Talladega behind teammate Chase Elliot, then nearly won a stage and the victory at Dover last week but fell short both times to Martin Truex Jr.

The double second place finishes have propelled Bowman to 12th in the Playoff standings. The Nationwide No. 88 team has only one DNF on the 2019 season.

NASCAR heads back to a mile and a half track at Kansas this Saturday night where Bowman has an average finish of 13th after two career races. The next week brings the Monster Energy All-Star Race that Bowman has yet to qualify for but currently sits in the top ten in fan voting.

 

Finding Speed

Hailing from Glendale, Michael McDowell was set to put on another superspeedway show at Talladega until he found some misfortune early in the race leading to his second DNF in a row. The No. 34 team had picked up momentum after Martinsville by qualifying in the top 20 four races in a row.

Last week’s race at Dover saw an end to that streak by qualifying and finishing outside the top 20. The Front Row Motorsports team has continued to grow in 2019 adding a third team at the beginning of the year.

McDowell currently sits 30th in the NASCAR points heading into Kansas where he holds a top 20 average finish.

 

The Zombie

Chris Blose was nicknamed, ‘Zombie Blose,’ not because of learning to grow up and survive in Arizona’s hot summers, but because of his perseverance after going down in hard crashes and getting back up for a good ride multiple times this year.

The conclusion of the 2019 Supercross season last Saturday in Vegas didn’t end how the Phoenix native was hoping. Blose was a constant top-five warrior and had an opportunity to fight for fifth in the points late in the year. Going down in the A-Main in back-to-back weeks to end the season placed the Gas Monkey Energy/AJE Motorsports rider in ninth to end the season.

The final race of the year at Vegas saw the final ‘death’ of Zombie Blose, going down and fracturing his radius in the A-Main, physically not allowing him to pull off another comeback finish. It’s unknown if the 31-year old will put together a privateer effort for the beginning of the Motocross season next week, or if the zombie will be fixed up by season’s end.

 

First-Year Surprise

While there is no Arizona driver competing in a USAC national series, there is an Arizona owned car in the AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series.

Owners of the Reinbold/Underwood Motorsports No. 19AZ are based out of Arizona and put Indiana hotshot, C.J. Leary, in the car for their inaugural season. Owners Andy Reinbold and Todd Underwood have watched their team win a race and now sit only three points behind points leader, Kevin Thomas Jr., in the Hayward/Thomas Motorsports No. 19.

The first-year effort is currently ahead of USAC national champions, Tyler Courtney, Chris Windom, and Brady Bacon.

There has been a boatload of rainouts on the USAC Sprint Car schedule in 2019, but the series plans to have their next set of races this Friday and Saturday at Eldora in Ohio. The USAC Sprint Cars end their season with the Western World Championships at Arizona Speedway in November.

Arizona native, Devon Henry, joined the Sports360AZ crew in 2018 after graduating from Arizona State's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication. Devon has avidly partaken in coverage of the Arizona high school sports scene since 2013 and has covered NASCAR and INDYCAR at Phoenix Raceway since 2017. Devon is also a play-by-play announcer, calling over a dozen different sports and hundreds of events.