Alex Bowman and Cunningham Motorsports Dominate Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200By Official Release
After posting the 2nd quickest laps in both of the 45 minute practice sessions on Saturday, Bowman maintained his consistency and put the #22 St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Dodge on the outside pole for the race Sunday. Prior to the green flag an anxious Bowman said, “We have a really fast race car. This car is the same chassis that Parker (Kligerman) finished 2nd with and Dakoda (Armstrong) won here with. That puts a lot of pressure on me to live up to those finishes.”
As soon as Bowman strapped on his helmet, he was on a mission. Starting from the 2nd spot allowed Bowman the preferred outside line. It appeared that after the green flag flew, pole sitter Chris Buescher and Bowman were going to be content pulling away from the rest of the racers. As the initial caution flag came out for a spin in turn 1 on lap 5, Bowman got bogged down in lapped traffic when the race resumed, allowing Tom Hessert to pass him for the second spot. As Bowman worked his way through traffic, he reclaimed second and by lap 40 he took the lead. As the second caution came out for another spin in turn one, NASCAR veteran crew chief, Paul Andrews kept Bowman on the track. As the green flew on lap 51, Bowman once again set sail, pulling the #22 Dodge to an impressive straightaway lead by lap 70 over Hessert, in second. When the caution came out on lap 80, Andrews called Bowman to the pits for right side tires and fuel. As most of the leaders took advantage of the caution flag, Bowman’s crew whipped off a quick stop to get their driver back on the track in second. Once the green flag flew, it didn’t take Bowman long to reestablish himself as the leader. On lap 91 he was back at the point.
Again Bowman started pulling away from the rest of the field, making quick work of most lapped cars. Sometimes his lead was almost a half lap over the second place car; telling Andrews at one point, “We are just cruising.” Twice his advantage was wiped away due to a caution flag. Under the caution on lap 135, Andrews called Bowman into the pits for 4 new Hoosiers and fuel. Once again the pit crew performed flawlessly, sending the #22 back on track in third, since the first two cars didn’t pit during the caution. Bowman easily took the lead on the restart on lap 140. Bowman continued to hold his lead, with Frank Kimmel shortening his lead to under a half second on lap 160. With his lead once again increasing over Kimmel, puffs of smoke could be seen coming from the right side of the Dodge in turns 3 and 4. In spite of what turned out to be a broken sway bar arm, Bowman held off nine-time ARCA Racing Series champ Kimmel to take his third ARCA Series victory in 5 races.
After engulfing the front stretch and all of the fans in a smoke-filled burn out, Bowman exited the winning car saying, “That was the best race car I’ve ever had in my life and there toward the end, something started breaking or going wrong in the right front. I was actually worried we were going to cut our right front down. Frank started catching us, and I was like, ‘Man, you’re going to lose this in the last 10 laps.’ Seeing that #44 car in your rear view mirror at any race is not what you want to see, but definitely not here at his home track. Those last five laps were an eternity, but the car held up and we brought it home.”
Bowman finds himself 2nd in the season-long championship points race, 45 markers behind the leader.
The team must complete a quick turnaround this week at the shop, as they will be at Talladega Superspeedway for the International Hall of Fame 250 Wednesday. A three hour practice session is scheduled for Thursday with qualifying following. Race day, Friday, begins with a final practice session, followed by the race at 6:00 pm EST with live coverage on SPEED.