Tucson’s Alex Bowman Prepares for Phoenix Return with Vegas Victory

(AP Photo/John Locher)

A gamble in Sin City pays the jackpot for Tucson’s Alex Bowman as NASCAR sets course to return to Phoenix Raceway in just one week’s time.

A 400-mile race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway dwindled down to a NASCAR Overtime, green-white-checkered finish, a two-lap scramble to the checkered flag following a late-race caution. During the pit stops prior to the resumption of racing, Bowman and two of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates, Kyle Larson and William Byron, took only a right-side tire change as opposed to changing all four tires with the rest of the field.

On the ensuing green-white-checkered restart, Bowman lined up in the second position alongside his teammate and defending champion, Kyle Larson, but was able to fend off the No.5, racing side-by-side for the entirety of the Overtime until a burst off the final corner allowed Bowman to collect his first victory of the 2022 season.

“This thing was so fast all day, just never really had the track position we needed to show it,” Bowman said on FOX. “It’s been a pretty awful start to the year, so to come out here and get a win on a [green-white-checkered] restart is pretty special.”

Bowman and his sponsor, Ally, teamed up with Bets Friends Animal Society for a second year to donate $4,800 to a local animal shelter every week of the season with a mission to eliminate kill shelters by 2025. By virtue of the No. 48 team’s win, though, the donation is increased and a local animal shelter in Las Vegas is the recipient of a $10,000 donation.

Bowman’s four victories in 2021 tied him for the second-most wins one year ago, only behind eventual champion, Kyle Larson. It was a career season for the seven-year Cup Series driver but he was unable to surpass the Round of 12 in the playoffs with hopes of running for a championship at Phoenix Raceway.

The former Ironwood Ridge High School student earned his fifth straight front row start in the season-opening Daytona 500 to begin the 2021 season but had failed to finish either of the first two races of the season inside the top 20. The Las Vegas victory earns Bowman his seventh career win at NASCAR’s highest level.

Bowman becomes NASCAR’s third different winner in three races in 2022. This is Bowman’s second year driving the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48, formerly driven by seven-time NASCAR champion, Jimmie Johnson. Bowman was formerly racing the No. 88 for Team Hendrick directly following the retirement of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Bowman became the first-ever Arizonan to claim a Cup Series win at Chicagoland in June of 2019. The rest of 2019 wouldn’t be as kind to Bowman, only picking up three more top-fives and was eliminated from the NASCAR Playoffs in the Round of 12. Learn more about Bowman from when he joined “The Inside Lane” prior to the 2021 Phoenix race in March.

Bowman grew up in Tucson racing locally in dirt midgets, becoming a USAC National Focus Midget Champion in 2008 and the USAC National Midget Rookie of the Year in 2009. After a life-threatening crash in Las Vegas in 2010, Bowman stepped away from dirt racing and moved to North Carolina to pursue a career in stock car racing.

The victory sets Bowman up for a possible return to the NASCAR Playoffs, an elimination bracket-style postseason that takes place in the final ten races of the season with the championship at Phoenix Raceway. Bowman can clinch a spot in the Playoffs with a second with this season or being in the top 16 in points of drivers with at least one victory. The victory delivers a plethora of momentum to the 28-year-old as NASCAR visits his home track of Phoenix Raceway next week where he near won at filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2016.

NASCAR arrives in Phoenix within a few days for their spring race weekend March 11-13. Sports360AZ will be at the track every day for NASCAR’s championship preview, so be sure to follow along for all the action.