Kevin Harvick believes Daytona 500 pole winner Alex Bowman picked the wrong strategy in Thursday’s qualifying races.
Bowman started on the pole for the first of two 150-mile qualifying races Thursday night at Daytona International Speedway but almost immediately dropped to the back of the field, preferring to remain out of trouble and instead of risking damage to his No. 88 Chevrolet.
Bowman was successful in his strategy and ended up finishing 14th but he didn’t collect any points toward Sunday’s 500 nor did he spend any measurable amount of time drafting with various other drivers.
“Alex Bowman didn’t learn anything today, in my opinion,” said Harvick, who finished runner-up to Chase Elliott in the second qualifying race. “Riding around starting on the pole is great, but not knowing what your car is going to do is a complete waste of time, in my opinion.”
Drivers have found this week that changes in the ride-height rules have greatly affected how the cars handle at Daytona and have made drafting much different – and sometimes more difficult – than in previous seasons.
“Everybody knows that you have to go into these qualifying races and race, in my opinion, because if you finish outside of the top 10, you gave up 10 points to the guy who won already. That hole keeps getting bigger,” Harvick said.
“That’s what the new points system and stage racing has done. That’s the way we should race. That’s the way we’ve raced from the beginning, late model cars and short races.”
Cautious strategy the plan from the get-go
For his part, Bowman said it was his team’s strategy from the beginning to run in the back.
“I mean I think we showed our hand we were pretty trimmed out. We came down here to sit on the pole and we wanted to be the Camaro ZL1 first’s pole and we achieved that,” he said. “But, we weren’t going to tear it up tonight for sure.”
Asked if he was concerned he spent little time drafting, Bowman said: “No, because we ran some really fast lap times and our car drove okay. I really thought it was going to drive worse than it did.
“We have an entire different set-up that we can just make it drive better for the 500. We will see what final practice is and how it goes. I think we can draft a little bit there, but I think we will be fine.”