Alex Bowman denies Denny Hamlin a Richmond win in the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway on Sunday.
Richmond Raceway brings a wrap to the NASCAR Cup Series short track stretch. Richmond is always a tough track even for the best teams in the Cup Series. The 0.75-mile track causes a lot of inconsistencies for teams and drivers. One difference is that the spring race is typically in the afternoon, whereas the fall race is at night. The different times of the season and the time of the day forces drivers to adapt to a change in track temperature, which brings a change in grip level. Every race is a different story at Richmond Raceway.
Martin Truex Jr Leads at Beginning of the First Stage…for a While
Martinsville winner, Martin Truex Jr, held the pole on Sunday afternoon as he fired off into the first turn. Truex Jr. was able to hold his lead going into the competition caution on lap 32. Denny Hamlin won the race off pit road and he took over stage one. The first stage ran under the green flag for the rest of the way and Denny Hamlin was able to keep the field at bay and win the first stage of the race.
Truex Continues to Lead, but Hamlin Wins the Second Stage
The second stage kicked off with a tight battle for the lead between Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. Fighting off Hamlin, Truex was able to return to the lead. Green flag stops began to cycle through around lap 137.
Before all the stops could cycle, Ryan Newman spun around in the third turn to bring out the caution. Martin Truex Jr. continued to lead after the caution.
The race entered an 87-lap green-flag run to bring the segment to the end of the second stage. Denny Hamlin and his team had a great pit stop under the green flag, and he was able to cycle into the lead. Hamlin carried on to win the second stage.
Alex Bowman Denies Hamlin a Richmond Win
Denny Hamlin dominated the third stage leading a vast majority of the laps. The final stage began with a 133-lap green-flag run. Toward the end of this run, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano had a battle going on for the lead. Hamlin had this battle won with 18 laps remaining in the race.
At the moment Hamlin takes the lead, Kevin Harvick spins out with a blown tire to bring out the caution and another opportunity to pit. Denny Hamlin kept the lead coming to the restart with twelve laps remaining.
Alex Bowman was the man of the hour with a great restart and by staying right on Denny Hamlin’s bumper. Bowman’s car rolled better along the bottom and he drove it down underneath Hamlin on the following lap. Bowman was able to clear his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports car and take the lead with ten laps left to run.
This was all Bowman needed as he was able to hold off Hamlin during the last ten laps. Alex Bowman wins the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.
A Bowman Win is a Welcome Change this Season
Alex Bowman has had some of the worst luck so far this season. He has had some extremely fast cars this season but could not avoid issues. In just nine races this season, Alex Bowman has had four finishes of 20th or worse. Two of these were DNFs coming in the Daytona 500 and at Martinsville last week. These poor finishes were a result of being caught up in a wreck or having some unforeseen mechanical error.
With his first win of the season, Alex Bowman looks to right the ship. With the pressure of obtaining the first win of the year gone, Bowman can race a little more at ease. It will be important for him to try and string some good finishes together in order to continue his climb in the series point standings..