Daytona 500 poleman Bowman's next step: "Figure out how to finish"

Daytona 500 poleman Alex Bowman says he's determined to reach the finish and put an end to his run of disappointing results at the NASCAR Cup Series curtain-raiser.

Daytona 500 poleman Bowman's next step: "Figure out how to finish"

The Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driver claimed pole for Sunday’s 500 with an average lap speed of 181.686 mph, easily holding off his team-mate Kyle Larson for the top spot.

With the pole in hand, Bowman will now start on front row of the season-opener for a NASCAR-record sixth consecutive time in a chain unbroken since he joined Hendrick's Cup lineup in 2018.

Of his four career poles, three have come in the Daytona 500 - having also claimed the top spot in 2018 and 2021.

However, none of those front row starts have translated into victory. In addition, no Hendrick driver has won the season’s biggest race since Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2014.

Reflecting on his approach to the race, 29-year-old Bowman said: “Every year it’s, ‘Man, now it’s time to finish, like make it to the end.’

“Last year, I think I sat on the back straightaway for four laps before they could figure out how to get me to pit road with four flat tyres.

“It’s such a hard race to finish. We’ve crashed early, we’ve crashed in the middle, we’ve crashed late. Obviously, I don’t have the answer. I haven’t figured out how to finish it yet.”

The recent qualifying success for the race by the Hendrick organisation does give Bowman a bit of confidence heading into the event each season and he says any advantage is welcome.

“I know we have a really fast race car and a great group of guys that are capable of doing great,” he said.

Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet

Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images

“But, man, it’s been tough. We want to finish this race and finish it well.”

Bowman’s record at Daytona during his Cup career has been mixed despite his excellent starting positions, having led a grand total of 17 laps. His best finish was 11th in 2019 and it remains the only 500 in which Bowman has ended the race on the lead lap.

“Some guys have been able to figure out how to be really good at speedway racing and consistently be there at the end, so obviously there is something to it,” Bowman said. “I just have to figure that out on my end as well.

“I feel like the ‘big one’ can happen at any point. Just trying to put ourselves in position to have a chance at winning.

“It definitely gets pretty intense and we’re typically caught up in it, so hopefully we can avoid it this year.”

To maintain his spot on the front row, Bowman will have to navigate his 150-mile qualifying race Thursday night without any wrecks or damage that would force him to move to a backup car.

Bowman says the difficulty in trying to reach Victory Lane in NASCAR’s biggest race has not left him with a “negative mindset”.

“It’s just a tough race to make it to the end of, so just trying to figure out how to make that happen is the hardest thing for me and it’s not really black or white,” he said.

“It’s trying to figure out what works for you, what areas of the race to push in, it’s really subjective to how you feel on the ebbs and flows of the race. You’re trying to figure it out better than the next guy.”


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