Alex Bowman finishes 18th at Charlotte

"I'd say tonight was the definition of bad luck"

RAB Racing and the No. 99 St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Toyota Camry driven by Alex Bowman finished in the 18th position after racing in the top-10 for most of the night in the Dollar General 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Bowman, making his 34th NASCAR Nationwide Series start has been bitten by the "Beast of the Southeast" in the past, finishing in the 20th position at the speedway in his first and only start in May.

Alex Bowman
Alex Bowman

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

The No. 99 Toyota Camry showed it had the speed to compete on Friday, posting the fastest lap in either of the two practice sessions, circling the mile and a half speedway in 29.954 seconds, and 182.469 miles per hour. This translated into the sixth fastest lap in qualifying, a small victory starting in the front of the field as track position is crucial at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The green flag flew on the 300 mile, 200 lap event and Bowman stayed in the top-10 in the early stages but a loose race car forced him to be patient and wait for the first pit stop. On lap 49 crew chief Chris Rice had the opportunity to adjust the car setup, he made a tire pressure adjustment, put on four new tires, and filled the No. 99 with fuel. 17 laps later on lap 66, the second caution came out and Rice made another big adjustment to the car setup and played a little strategy as he took four tires again, while other teams stayed out under caution. That strategy paid big dividends as Bowman restarted in the 16th position and drove into the top-10 by the halfway point of the event. Caution flew again on lap 111 and the No. 99 team elected to stay out and gain track position, restarting in the second position. Bowman raced hard with the other teams who had taken four fresh tires under the previous caution, only dropping back to the fifth position by lap 140. On lap 150 the No. 99 came down to make their final pit stop of the night, the car was working perfectly so no adjustments, just tires and fuel. Bad luck struck the team as just four laps later, on lap 154 the caution flag flew, with Bowman a lap down. After taking the wave around to get back on the lead lap Bowman restarted in 23rd position with a mere 38 laps to go, but after making a charge through the field, the No. 99 finished in the 18th position.

Alex Bowman: "I'd say tonight was the definition of bad luck, our St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Toyota Camry was really good all night long, easily a top-10 car, and then to finish in 18th is really disappointing. We were all set to make a good run at the end, the car was handling great in clean air, and my crew chief Chris Rice made multiple adjustments to the car that and put us in a position to succeed. I just couldn't believe it when my spotter said the caution had come out, right after making our final pit stop. Although it's disappointing, I'm proud of all our guys, and it shows the hard work they're putting in is paying off as we're starting to run upfront each and every week. The time they put in at Toyota Racing Development, at the wind tunnel, and our Joe Gibbs Racing Engines, it just seems like everything is coming together. With that being said, I cant wait to get to Texas in two weeks, a place I really enjoy and home of our first pole award...we'll just keep our chin up and know that we had a car that could run upfront."

With the 18th place finish Bowman maintained the 11th position in driver point standings, and Robby Benton held on to the 16th position in owner point standings. The next race on the NASCAR Nationwide schedule is the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at the Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, November 2nd, with live coverage on ESPN 2.

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About this article
Drivers Alex Bowman , Robby Benton
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing , Toyota Racing
Article type Race report
Tags bowman, charlotte, nns, toyota