Race Weekend Central

Alex Bowman Gambles on 2-Tire Pit Stop, Wins Las Vegas

Gambling’s a hallmark of Las Vegas, and a risky two-tire pit stop late in the race paid off for Alex Bowman as he scored his first win of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Bowman dueled side-by-side with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson on an overtime restart, clearing the No. 5 off the final corner to take the checkered flag.

“I just can’t thank […] everybody from Hendrick Motorsports enough,” Bowman said after the race. “This thing was so fast all day, just never really had the track position we needed to show it. But man, what a call by [crew chief] Greg Ives and the guys to take two [tires] there, obviously it paid off.

“Racing Kyle [Larson] is always fun, got to race him for a couple wins and we’ve always raced each other super clean and super respectfully, so just can’t say enough about these guys. It’s been a pretty awful start to the year, so to come out here and get a win on a last-restart deal like that is pretty special.”

Ross Chastain, Kyle Busch and William Byron rounded out the top five, while Aric Almirola, Tyler Reddick, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott and Christopher Bell rounded out the top 10.

Polesitter Bell led the field to green, with things immediately picking up with a close call: Joey Logano had a run on the backstretch and made contact with Chase Elliott, sandwiching the No. 9 between the No. 22 and Austin Cindric. All three bumped into one another, but avoided disaster.

Bell led all 30 laps until the competition caution flew at lap 31, but the No. 20 lost the lead on the opening round of pit stops. Another yellow flew moments later with Ryan Blaney out front, that time for a Cole Custer spin in turn 2, and another followed soon after when Austin Dillon slid into Justin Haley. Kyle Busch’s No. 18 also spun as he tried to avoid the wreck.

Another caution flew when Tyler Reddick‘s No. 8 went for an excursion through the infield grass.

Tempers flared between Busch and Chase Briscoe, with Busch taking exception to a move by the No. 14 and making some slight, intended contact with Briscoe after the stage was over. Bowman claimed the green-and-white-checkered flag for the stage one victory.

Yellows continued to be a consistent presence atop the flagstand with a pair of early stage two incidents, starting with a loose Briscoe hooking Daniel Suarez and sending the No. 99 into the outside wall. That was followed by a Brad Keselowski spin, with the sliding No. 6 collecting Blaney in the process.

Bell, the polesitter who led from the drop of the green flag all the way to the first caution, spun and set up a restart with 20 laps to go in stage two.

Ross Chastain, meanwhile, had been mounting a quiet charge to the front, eventually taking the lead and winning the second stage.

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Chastain then gapped Busch on the restart, sitting comfortably ahead of the field until a caution for Denny Hamlin stalling on the apron flew. That yellow re-racked the field and Busch grabbed the lead once back under green, while his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate in Martin Truex Jr. battled and eventually passed Chastain for second.

Truex then methodically cut Busch’s lead down, approaching the No. 18’s back bumper with 20 laps remaining.

The pair engaged in a 15-lap duel that featured plenty of runs, blocking and crossovers, but Busch was able to hold his own out in front and outlast Truex… until a caution waved.

Erik Jones smacked the wall and mowed his way through the infield grass, spinning back out onto the track, and was nearly nailed in the driver’s-side door by an oncoming Bubba Wallace, who couldn’t do anything but swerve left. Wallace’s car hit the tires around the infield wall, while Jones was able to walk away from an incident that could’ve been much worse.

That set up pit stops and an overtime restart with Larson and Bowman, who took just two tires, on the front row. The Hendrick Motorsports pair battled side-by-side for nearly the entire duration while Busch, Truex and Chastain could do nothing behind them, and were still neck-and-neck in the final corner.

Bowman managed to get a better run as the duo exited the turn, clearing Larson and taking the checkered flag ahead of the No. 5.

With the win, Bowman has the second-most wins of any driver since the start of 2021 with five, behind only Larson’s 11.

Cup Results from Las Vegas

The Cup Series next heads south to Phoenix Raceway for the Ruoff Mortgage 500. The race gets started shortly after 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 13 with coverage on FOX’s flagship station.

RACE WEEKEND CENTRAL: LAS VEGAS

About the author

Adam Cheek joined Frontstretch as a contributing writer in January 2019. A 2020 graduate of VCU, he works as a producer and talent for Audacy Richmond's radio stations. In addition to motorsports journalism, Adam also covered and broadcasted numerous VCU athletics for the campus newspaper and radio station during his four years there. He's been a racing fan since the age of three, inheriting the passion from his grandfather, who raced in amateur events up and down the East Coast in the 1950s.

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DoninAjax

Baby Busch did it again. He clobbered the wall and made his car faster. Why does that only seem to work on Reverend Joe’s cars? They get damaged and get better.

Echo

It’s magic. Kurt now 13th bubba 15th.
Looks like HMS will have 4 of the playoff spots.

Tom B

God works in mysterious ways.

john dawg chapman

It must be pretty gaulling, sitting in your motorhome after retiring from a self imposed drive line failure. Watching the guy you labeled a hack, out drive Kyle Larson for the win.

Tom B

Good point, only a hack could mess up this new shift pattern.

Bill B

Good one!

I have a hard time caring about Bowman one way or the other, but he sure has a knack for being at the right place at the right time when it comes to the end of the race. I could be wrong, and I am too lazy to research it, but it seems like he rarely has the “dominant/best car” on the track when he wins.

As for Denny, well, he’s Denny, he’s always Denny.

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