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      Alex Bowman starts Round of 12 with third-place finish; William Byron comes home 13th

      © 2019 Nigel Kinrade / NKP

      ALEX BOWMAN

      Start: 12th
      Finish: 3rd
      Standings: 7th (17 above cut-line)

      Alex Bowman raced inside of the top 10 for the majority of the 400-mile event at Dover International Speedway on Sunday afternoon. The driver of the No. 88 Cincinnati machine qualified 12th for the event. The first caution was shown on Lap 7 and the team was scored in the 12th position. Crew chief Greg Ives radioed to the Cincinnati team that they would stay out under this caution. On the Lap 12 restart, Bowman restarted 11th and just four laps later had entered the top 10.

      The Cincinnati driver took over the ninth position on Lap 39 and 15 laps later made the pass for eighth. Bowman radioed to Ives on Lap 63 that his car was free in and off the corner. Ives called Bowman to pit road on Lap 77 for four tires and fuel, and the team was scored in seventh when green-flag stops cycled through. With 20 laps to go in the stage, Bowman was sitting sixth and would maintain that position through the stage end. The Cincinnati team earned valuable stage points with this finish.

      Under caution for the stage end, Bowman came to pit road for four tires and fuel. When the team restarted on Lap 127, the No. 88 Chevrolet was scored in the sixth position. The 26-year-old driver relayed to Ives on Lap 174 that as his car built throttle, he would lose the nose. Ives elected to bring Bowman to pit road on Lap 185 for a scheduled green flag stop for four tires and fuel. As these stops cycled through, the team was scored in the seventh position. On Lap 228, Bowman called to Ives that his car was just a little too tight in the center and that he wasn’t rotating as well as he would want it to. At the conclusion of Stage 2 the team crossed the line sixth, once again earning valuable stage points.

      © 2019 Nigel Kinrade / NKP

      Ives elected to bring Bowman to pit road under the yellow for tires and fuel. When the field restarted on Lap 248, Bowman was scored in the fifth position. Over the next green flag run, Bowman remained quiet on the radio and continued to knock off positions. On Lap 291, the driver took over the fourth position and Bowman was reporting that his car was really good. Pit strategy would come into play around Lap 315. Five laps later, Ives called the driver to pit road for a four-tire and fuel stop.

      With 50 laps remaining on track, Bowman had his eyes set for the third position. On Lap 351, Ives radioed to the Cincinnati driver to set sail in the clean air and go for the second position after getting by the third-place competitor. Without a late race caution, it would be difficult to track down the first-place car as they had a 10-second lead on third place. Bowman ultimately finished the event in the third position. This is Bowman’s second top-three finish at Dover International Speedway this season. The Tucson, Arizona, native now sits seventh in the NASCAR driver standings. He is 46 points back from the leader going into next week’s event at Talladega Superspeedway.

      Alex Bowman: “I think we had a good car there to start. It’s just really hard to pass and it took a while for the track to widen out. We just have to keep working at it. Obviously, the 42 and the 19 were way out there, but we had a really good race car and I’m proud of my guys. … I’m really proud of my race team and everyone for keeping their heads on straight. I’ll take it after last week. We got together with the 12 there off of turn two really early and I was like ‘no, not again’. I’m glad he saved it. Just two cars going for one spot on the race track, nothing happened from there. We had a clean day. … I felt like our car wasn’t very good on the short run. During the middle part of the run, my car was really good. I’m not sure how a late caution would have ended up, but congrats to the 42 guys. Kyle (Larson) has been working hard this year so it’s cool to see him get a win. We have two more weeks in this round to get it done.”

      WILLIAM BYRON

      Start: 6th
      Finish: 13th
      Standings: 8th (Even on cut-line with Joey Logano)

      Showing speed in the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 during both of Friday’s practice sessions at Dover International Speedway, driver William Byron secured a sixth-place starting position during single-car qualifying on Saturday. While the sophomore driver ran within the top-five for the first half of the race, a late-race pit road penalty caught him a lap down, leaving Byron with a 13th-place finish but above the current playoff cutoff position.

      Rolling off sixth Sunday, Byron quickly moved into the top-five within the opening laps, settling into fourth when the caution flag waved on Lap 9. The driver of the No. 24 stayed on track under the yellow to maintain track position, lining up fourth for the restart on Lap 13. Fighting a loose Axalta Chevy throughout the green-flag run, Byron experimented with his lane choice from lap to lap, eventually catching the cars in front of him and taking over the third position on Lap 68. With under 50 laps to go in Stage 1, crew chief Chad Knaus called the 21-year-old to pit road under green for four tires, fuel and minor adjustments to help with a still “edgy” No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. As green-flag pit stops cycled through, Byron was scored fourth and maintained that position until the stage end on Lap 122. Coming to pit road during the stage break for four tires, fuel and another round of adjustments for a still loose race car, Byron left pit road and lined up fifth for the start of the next stage.

      © 2019 John K Harrelson / NKP

      Running within the top five for the first half of Stage 2, Byron continued to fight a loose Axalta Chevy while trying to weave through lap-down traffic. Slipping back to sixth with 60 laps to go in the second stage, Knaus called the No. 24 to pit road under green with the leaders on Lap 186 for four tires and fuel. Unfortunately though, Byron was issued a pit road speeding penalty as he was leaving pit road, forcing him to serve a pass-thru penalty under green and ultimately losing a lap. Fighting to put himself in a position to get his lap back should the caution come out, Byron raced up to 15th, the first car one lap down. Running as the first car one lap down as the end of Stage 2 began to draw near, Byron lost the beneficiary opportunity when the leaders caught the tail end of the field and began to put more cars a lap down before the green-checkered flag waved. Coming to pit road under the stage break, Byron reported that the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was too tight in traffic and he would like to be loosened up due to where he would have to restart. After another four-tire stop with minor adjustments by the Axalta team, Byron lined up 15th, the first car one lap down, with 150 laps to go.

      The sophomore driver maintained his position as the first car one lap down throughout the long green-flag run that opened up the final stage and continued to maintain it as green-flag pit stops began to cycle through. Electing to stay on track and pit later than the leaders in hopes of catching a caution and be back on the lead lap, Knaus finally called Byron down pit road under green on Lap 324 for four tires and fuel. Rejoining the field still one lap down, Byron was able to make up two positions by the time green-flag pit stops finally cycled through. However, inside of 30 laps remaining, the leaders ultimately caught Byron and put him another lap down. With the race going green until the end, Byron finished the day at the “Monster Mile” in the 13th position, but had accumulated enough points to find himself eighth in the driver point standings, tied for the final position in this round of the playoffs.

      Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman led the charge at Dover International Speedway with a third-place finish in Sunday afternoon’s race, followed by Jimmie Johnson in eighth. Byron rallied to a 13th-place finish after his mid-race issues while Chase Elliott unfortunately finished 38th after suffering mechanical issues early on.

      William Byron: “We just couldn’t recover after the speeding penalty. We just had a miscalculation of when we could accelerate out of our pit box. I thought we were fine on pit road speed to leave the box hard. That was a bummer for sure. We had a pretty good car. We couldn’t really make many passes, but we were able to get from the back after having to start pretty close to the tail end. It just really hurt our day. But overall, the guys did a good job and we got out of here with a decent points day, I guess. We’ll just have to go on strong next week.”

      Via Hendrick Motorsports