Alex Bowman Wins First-Ever NASCAR XFINITY Series Race In Charlotteby Camille Jones October 8, 2017
CONCORD, N.C. – The long wait through an extended rain delay was well worth it for Alex Bowman, as he went on to capture his first-ever NASCAR XFINITY Series victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night.
The Drive for the Cure 300 Presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina was scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, but due to a lingering mist and scattered showers all afternoon, the race was delayed until night fell and the lights came on.
Bowman drove the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet to his first victory in his 50th start in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. He led the final 32 laps of the race on Saturday en route to the victory. Although Bowman has competed in all three of NASCAR’s top series, this is his first victory on the NASCAR national series level. The 24-year-old driver is set to take over Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s No. 88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018.
Sam Hornish, Jr. put up a hard-fought battle to finish in the second position after starting in the 31st position due to the field being lined up by owner points and provisionals.
Ryan Blaney took home the third-place finishing position after leading 38 laps of the event.
Austin Dillon and Brennan Poole finished out the top-five on Saturday night. Cole Custer, Daniel Hemric, Daniel Suarez, Matt Tifft and Elliott Sadler completed the top-10.
The 200-lap race was broken into three stages. Erik Jones won the 45-lap Stage 1, while Daniel Suarez won the 45-lap Stage 2. Bowman captured the race win by winning the 110-lap Stage 3.
The Drive for the Cure 300 was a cut-off race for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs, slicing the field of drivers contending for the championship from 12 to eight.
William Byron, Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer, Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier, Brennan Poole, Matt Tifft and Ryan Reed advance to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs. The four drivers failing to advance into the Round of 8 were Brendan Gaughan, Michael Annett, Blake Koch, and Jeremy Clements.
With less than 20 laps to go, Ryan Reed and Brendan Gaughan were battling door-to-door for the final transfer spot. The two were racing for the final ticket to move on in the NASCAR Playoffs until they took the checkered flag. Gaughan missed the Round of 8 by just one point.
Michael Annett finished in the 27th position, three laps down, after going for a spin with 34 laps remaining in the race. NASCAR did not throw the yellow flag for his spin. Annett drove his No. 5 TMC Chevrolet to pit road and continued on, but he lost several laps in the process.
Blake Koch struggled through the event with no power steering in his No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet on Saturday night. His team was unable to fix the issue and he was forced to race the car with mechanical issues. Koch finished 25th, one lap down.
Late in the race, Jeremy Clements played his pit strategy to seat his No. 51 Chevrolet in the fourth spot. He was unable to hold onto the position and finished 20th, one lap down.
UPDATE: The cars of Matt Tifft and Blake Koch were too low following post-race inspection. NASCAR will announce any penalties next week.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series will take a weekend off and return to the track on Saturday, October 21. Live coverage of the Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway will broadcast on NBC at 3 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com