Alex Bowman gets his first-ever Cup Series win at Chicago

Alex Bowman is a winner in NASCAR’s Cup Series.

Bowman re-passed Kyle Larson for the lead with five laps to go to get the first Cup Series win of his career and the first win for the No. 88 car since a guy named Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove it.

Bowman had the lead late but Larson ran him down as Bowman struggled to navigate through lapped traffic. And Larson made the pass for what seemed to be the win. But Bowman didn’t give up and hung with Larson for a couple laps before retaking the lead.

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“I’m just tired of running second,” Bowman said after getting out of his car. “I don’t want to do that any more. I feel like this is the last box, aside from going and chasing the championship, that I needed 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 — ‘But you haven’t won a race’ — I think even [longtime Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Chad Knaus] said something about me not winning a race. So Chad Knaus, there, we went and did it. Everybody can stop giving me crap. We finally did it.”

Bowman’s win comes in the weeks after longtime Hendrick Motorsports sponsor Nationwide Insurance said it was leaving the team after the 2019 season. The announcement leaves Bowman’s team with a huge sponsorship hole to fill for the 2020 season. But the best way to find sponsorship — and keep your ride in the face of limited sponsorship — is to go win a race. And Bowman did just that.

His win — which is in his 134th career Cup Series start — comes after a close call with victory lane at Kansas where Brad Keselowski passed him for the lead. Bowman’s struggles with traffic made it seem like he was bound to repeat that Kansas folly in the Chicago evening. But the traffic wasn’t a factor after he found some speed after Larson got past him.

The race was run into the evening at Chicago after a line of severe thunderstorms came through just after the scheduled green flag time of 3 p.m. ET. NASCAR stupidly made the decision to start the race as the thunderstorms approached and raced 11 laps — or about six minutes — before red-flagging the event because of lightning in the area. The red flag for rain and track drying then took over three hours before the race resumed.

Larson finished second while Joey Logano was third. Seven-time Cup Series champion and Bowman’s Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson was fourth while Brad Keselowski finished fifth. All four of the HMS cars finished in the top 11 as William Byron was eighth and Chase Elliott was 11th.

Results

1. Alex Bowman

2. Kyle Larson

3. Joey Logano

4. Jimmie Johnson

5. Brad Keselowski

6. Ryan Blaney

7. Erik Jones

8. William Byron

9. Martin Truex Jr.

10. Austin Dillon

11. Chase Elliott

12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

13. Kurt Busch

14. Kevin Harvik

15. Denny Hamlin

16. Aric Almirola

17. Ryan Newman

18. Chris Buescher

19. Daniel Hemric

20. Michael McDowell

21. Paul Menard

22. Kyle Busch

23. David Ragan

24. Daniel Suarez

25. Bubba Wallace

26. Ross Chastain

27. Matt DiBenedetto

28. Ryan Preec

29. Matt Tifft

30. Corey LaJoie

31. Landon Cassill

32. Bayley Currey

33. Josh Bilicki

34. Reed Sorenson

35. Ty Dillon

36. BJ McLeod

37. Clint Bowyer

38. Quin Houff

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports

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