Alex Bowman captures first NASCAR Cup Series win in race at Chicagoland

JOLIET, Ill. – Alex Bowman held off Kyle Larson for his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory, leading a terrific performance for Hendrick Motorsports at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday.

Bowman had one of the fastest cars during practice, and the strength of his No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet showed after the race was delayed by a storm. The 26-year-old Bowman had just six top-five finishes in 133 starts on NASCAR’s top series before his banner day on the bumpy 1.5-mile oval.

Larson put together another memorable run a year after he lost an epic last-lap duel with Kyle Busch on the same track. Larson passed Bowman with about seven laps left, but Bowman quickly regained the lead and smartly navigated his way to the victory.

Relive the pass that gave @AlexBowman88 his [email protected] |

Joey Logano, who entered with a one-point lead over Kyle Busch for the top spot in the series standings, finished third. Jimmie Johnson was fourth, and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five.

It was Hendrick’s second victory of the season after Chase Elliott won at Talladega in April. Led by Bowman and Johnson, Hendrick placed each of its four cars in the top 11.

Alex Bowman reacts after winning the Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. (Photo: Mike Dinovo, USA TODAY Sports)

Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske dominated the first part of the Cup season. Logano, Keselowski and Ryan Blaney finished in the top six for Penske at Chicagoland, but it was a difficult day for the top performers at JGR.

Martin Truex Jr. never really threatened and had to settle for ninth after winning last weekend on the road course in California. Kyle Busch had several issues on his way to 22nd.

It was hot and humid when pole-sitter Austin Dillon led the field to the starting line, but thunderstorms quickly rolled in and halted the race after 11 laps. The wind picked up and rain pounded the track after the drivers and crew members retreated to their trailers.

When the race resumed after a delay of more than three hours, it was a completely different situation. The temperature dropped more than 20 degrees, forcing the teams to adapt on the fly after the cars were set up for hot, slick conditions. It also was the series’ first stop at Chicagoland under its overhauled rules package, further complicating matters.

Kevin Harvick and Blaney each had tire trouble about 75 laps in, and Denny Hamlin raced to the Stage 1 win. But Hamlin was penalized for too many over the wall during a pit stop in the last part of the race and finished 15th.

WEATHER WOES: The first NASCAR Cup Series broadcast on NBC Sports got off to an inauspicious start Sunday as dangerous weather hit Chicagoland Speedway after just 11 laps. Weather forecasts had called for scattered thunderstorms throughout the afternoon in the Joliet, Illinois area, and it didn't take long for lightning to appear, strong winds to emerge and heavy rain to pelt the track.

The caution flag came out as lightning was spotted in the vicinity and cars were brought down to pit road and covered up on lap 12 after seven-time champion passed pole winner Austin Dillon on lap 8 and held the lead until the yellow.

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The caution's out for weather with the No. 48 in the lead. What a move! Join us on NBCSN:

The race restarted after a nearly 3 hour, 20 minute rain delay. Drivers ran four caution laps with the restart coming on lap 16. 

Contributing: Ellen J. Horrow

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