Alex Bowman and the Axalta team rolled off 18th for Sunday’s 337-lap event at Texas Motor Speedway. Within the first three laps of the race, Bowman was scored in the 15th position, but was shuffled back to 20th on Lap 10. By Lap 15, the Axalta machine had settled into the 19th position.
The Arizona native was running 21st when the competition caution was shown on Lap 30. Crew chief Greg Ives called the driver to pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment under the caution and the team restarted 17th. There was a long green flag run until the stage ending caution came out and the Axalta team crossed the line 16th. Ives called the driver to pit road for four tires, fuel and an additional wedge adjustment to help the cars handling. Bowman restarted 15th at the start of Stage Two.
Approximately six laps after taking the green, the caution flag was shown for an incident in Turn 3. Bowman radioed to the team that his Camaro ZL1 started off better but turned to the free side when he had competitors on his door. Ives elected to have the driver stay out under this caution and restarted 14th. By Lap 101, the team was scored in the 12th position. Ives radioed to Bowman that his lap times were really good and to keep focused on rolling the center.
On Lap 110, Bowman was running in the 11th position. Green flag pit stops got underway around Lap 126 and Bowman was scored in the third position on Lap 137. The No. 88 Axalta machine was leading the field from Lap 153 until Lap 155. Bowman brought his Chevrolet to pit road on Lap 156 for his scheduled green flag pit stop. The No. 88 Axalta team took four tires and fuel and once green flag pit stops cycled through, the team was scored in the 14th position. Bowman advanced one position before the conclusion of Stage Two and crossed the line 13th.
Under caution, the No. 88 Axalta machine came to pit road for right side tires and fuel and the team restarted eighth. Bowman maintained his eighth-place position and radioed to Ives on Lap 203 that his car was starting to build free. The fifth caution of the day was shown on Lap 225 for an incident in Turn 2. Ives radioed to Bowman to bring his car to pit road for four tires and fuel. Following a quick adjustment, the Axalta team restarted eighth. On Lap 243 Bowman was quiet on the radio and running in the ninth position.
On Lap 282, the driver brought his machine to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Shortly after this adjustment, Bowman radioed to the team that this was the best balance that his Camaro ZL1 had been all day. After green flag pit stops cycled through, Bowman was scored in the ninth position. The sixth caution was shown on Lap 298 and knowing that pit strategy could come into play, Ives elected to bring Bowman down pit road for right side tires and fuel. The team restarted 11th on Lap 303.
Five laps later the caution was shown once again for a three-car incident on the backstretch. Bowman radioed to the Axalta team that his machine took off on the tight side. Ives kept the 25-year-old driver on track under this caution to maintain his position. With 20 laps remaining in the event, Bowman was scored in the ninth position. Through one additional caution, Bowman ultimately got shuffled back and finished the 500.5-mile event in the 14th position.
“Overall, it was just a frustrating weekend. We were off in practice and then didn’t qualify great. Greg (Ives, crew chief) and the guys made some good adjustments throughout the race, but we had an issue there at the end that just didn’t help us. Hopefully next week goes better. I have been looking forward to getting back to Phoenix.”
William Byron had a solid day at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, bringing the No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 home with a 16th-place finish. He also came within five points of locking up rookie of the year honors for the NASCAR Cup Series, a feat which he will look to accomplish next week at ISM Raceway.
Chase Elliott led his teammates to the checkered flag in the second race of the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. Elliott earned his second top-10 finish of the round, crossing the finish line in sixth. Jimmie Johnson joined Elliott and Bowman inside the top 15 with a 15th-place result.