There’s no hiding it, Hendrick Motorsports has struggled through the first 10 races of the Monster Energy Cup Series season. One driver in particular that’s struggled, is Alex Bowman.
Bowman, 26, is coming off a season in which he made it to the Round of 12 in the postseason, though after getting eliminated following Kansas Speedway in October, dwindled to 16th by Homestead. Expectations were high for the No. 88 team heading into 2019.
Prior to Talladega last weekend, Bowman sat 21st in the championship standings, within 30 markers off the coveted 16th position. But with a strong performance of scoring second-place finishes in all three stages, the No. 88 jumped six positions in points, heading to Dover in 15th.
“Weeks like last week are a positive and an increase in speed out of all the HMS cars is a good thing,” Bowman told Frontstretch on Friday (May 3) at Dover International Speedway. “We’ve just got to take advantage of that and go from there.
“Aside from last weekend, it’s  been pretty bad. I think the off week [Easter] was a good reset for us and hopefully we’ll have some momentum from last week and we’ll be good to go. It’s a big morale booster and helps the points. It takes some weight off everybody’s shoulders, but once you get to Dover it’s a whole other animal.”
Heading to the Monster Mile, Bowman is five points ahead of 17th, currently held by Paul Menard. Despite Talladega being his lone top-10 finish of 2019, the No. 88 team is ahead of Jimmie Johnson in the standings (16th) by one marker.
With an average finish of 16.7, Bowman is currently tracking better than last season (finished 2018 with a 17th-place average finish). But he wonders what could have been should the team had put together races earlier in the season.
“Way too close to the edge for me,” he said on being 15th in points. “We need to be much better than that, and we’re going to do everything we can do to make it happen. … Poor execution, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. We’ve just struggled across the board.”
Bowman admitted he and his teammates Johnson, Chase Elliott and William Byron share a fair amount of notes with each other to help Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott’s win last week was the first win for Chevrolet in the Cup Series this season, snapping a 13-race losing streak dating back to Kansas.
As for Bowman, he’s not surprised to see the No. 88 team rank 15th in points because he’s had six finishes of 15th or worse.
Bowman stated: “I think that’s where we deserve to be for the course of the season. We want to be much better and expect to be much better than that. I’m not really surprised, but we have a long way to go.”
In six career Cup starts at Dover, Bowman has a best finish of 20th in 2015 with Tommy Baldwin Racing. Last year, in his first full season with HMS, the Arizona native had finishes of 23rd and 28th at the Monster Mile.