It was a solid, gratifying day for Alex Bowman, who took over the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet from retired Dale Earnhardt Jr. this season.
No, Bowman wasn’t a contender for the victory in Monday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch settled that issue, with Bowyer coming out on top.
But Bowman improved from a 16th-place starting position to seventh at the finish in a car that improved steadily throughout the day. His car was the highest-finishing Chevrolet in the race.
“I felt like I had some good observations after second practice (on Saturday) on some things I wanted to change, and they seemed to pay off big during the race,” Bowman said. “Or at least be the right direction during the race.
“(Crew chief) Greg (Ives) just made really good adjustments. Every stop we got better. We had solid pit stops all day, the pit crew worked really hard – just good decisions on top of the box and a good race car.”
If Bowman had picked a track to produce his first top-ten of the season, Martinsville would have been an unlikely candidate.
“I mean Daytona, and then, if not Daytona, then Atlanta, and then if not Atlanta, Phoenix,” Bowman said. “I mean we’re here to win races every week. To take this long to get a top-ten, it’s not what we wanted at all, but glad we are going the right way.”