In an exciting overtime finish, Alex Bowman and the No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1 team earned their first victory of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) season in the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. A late-race caution with a two-tire pit strategy call made by Crew Chief, Greg Ives, put Bowman in a front row restart position alongside Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson. The two Camaro ZL1’s battled all the way to the checkered flag, with Bowman edging out Larson at the line by 0.178 seconds to capture his first victory of 2022 and his seventh-career victory in NASCAR’s premier series. The feat secures Bowman’s NCS Playoff spot and his chance at the championship title.
“I just can't thank Ally and Chevrolet, everybody from Hendrick Motorsports enough,” said Bowman. “This thing was so fast all day. Never had the track position we needed to show it. Man, what a call by Greg Ives (crew chief) and the guys to take two (tires) there. Obviously it paid off. Racing Kyle (Larson) is always fun. Got to race him for a couple wins. We've always raced each other super clean and super respectfully. Just can't say enough about these guys. It's been a pretty awful start to the year, so to come out here and get a win on a last restart deal is pretty special.”
The 28-year-old driver gave Chevrolet its 10th victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the second of the 2022 season for the Camaro ZL1. Chevrolet, the winningest brand in NASCAR, now sits at 816 all-time wins in NASCAR’s premier division.
For the second week in a row, the Camaro ZL1 captured an impressive four of the top-five in the final running order. The win was celebrated by Bowman’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates, who placed all four of their Camaro ZL1’s in the top-10; Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL1, in second; William Byron, No. 24 Axalta Camaro ZL1, in fifth; and Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1, in ninth. Ross Chastain had a career day in his No. 1 ACM Awards Camaro ZL1, capturing his first-career NCS stage win and leading a career-best 83 laps en route to a third-place finish, giving Chevrolet a 1-2-3 finish. Tyler Reddick drove his No. 8 BetMGM Camaro ZL1 to a hard fought seventh-place finish, giving Chevrolet six of the top-10 finishers.
The NASCAR Cup Series finishes its three-race west coast swing next weekend at Phoenix Raceway with the Ruoff Mortgage 500 on Sunday, March 13, at 3:30 P.M. ET. Live coverage can be found on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1, RACE WIN PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by the winner of today's race, Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet.
We'll go straight to questions for Alex.
Q. Did you expect two tires to work as well as it did?
ALEX BOWMAN: No. I was really surprised. On the front row there, you have to run so much throttle. We had been free on the short run, pretty good on the long run. I mean, I kind of feel like I know. Obviously a lot has changed with this race car, but typically two tires tighten you up a ton.
We were on old tires earlier in the day, like cold old tires. When we had the pit road issue, we came back and put old tires on. I was super tight the whole run. I was worried we were going to be super tight.
On the front row, you got to drive it like it's going to stick. Thankfully it stuck.
Q. Hendrick getting two of the first three races of the year, seems like you are the first to really take off with this car.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I mean, I think the 18 and the 19 were better than us at the end. Like if the caution doesn't come out, I think I was going to get the 1, so probably finish third.
Yeah, I mean, I think Hendrick Motorsports, the depth of people and how good each and every person is there, pays off. We're here with a new race car that has completely changed everything in our industry, from how they work on it, how they build it. Everything I touch is different, the pedals, shifter, the steering.
Obviously it's paying off, how good everybody is at HMS. I think we're in a pretty good spot.
Q. The caution comes out. You're on track thinking fourth. What are you hearing from Greg on the radio and how are you feeling at that point?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, it's somewhat similar to I guess two years ago here. We were the fastest car by a lot at the end. Ran down Blaney. We were probably going to get him, at least it was going to be a great race. The caution came out with a couple to go. We pitted. A bunch of people stayed out. We didn't finish well at all.
I was just like, Man, same scenario all over again. But today so many people pitted - everybody pitted. It ended up working out for us. Obviously taking two got us on the front row. That's why Greg gets paid the big bucks. I left the call up to him and he made the right call.
Q. How much of a weight off your shoulders is a win like this early in the year?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, especially with how we started the year. Obviously Daytona and Fontana didn't go well for us.
Happy to be able to get a win this early. The strength of the Hendrick cars this early has been great. There's so many unknowns this year. There's a lot going on. Excited to have the rest of the year to keep dialing these things in and be ready for the Playoffs.
Q. How excited were you that you had two teammates that took two tires as well?
ALEX BOWMAN: Well, restart on the front row second to arguably the greatest race car driver of our generation. Tall task there. Greg made a great call. I was a bit worried we were going to be way too tight.
But racing Kyle is hard. He's so good. I just felt like when he took the top, I was way more confident. The bottom was where I wanted to be. It was where my car worked the best. I thought that gave me my best shot.
I'm glad it worked out, but I was definitely nervous. I wasn't really thinking that the three teammates took two tires. I thought the 18 -- honestly before the restart I thought the 18 would have won, just having four, being in a good spot like that.
I was able to run way more throttle than I thought I was going to on two tires. I felt like two tires on this race car just ended up being more grip than expected.
Q. Do you feel the talk that Rick Hendrick had with the drivers this week played into at all how y'all raced each other at the end?
ALEX BOWMAN: Uhm, I don't know. I don't know that there was, like, really something Kyle could have done any differently, or even if he was trying to be dirty about anything. He was super tight on my door, side drafting me as hard as he could. He just ended up getting tight in three and four.
I think the talk was a big wake-up call. Obviously when Mr. H calls a meeting like that, it gets your attention, it's always going to. Anytime Mr. H talks, he's got your attention, but especially in a situation like that.
I think Kyle and I historically have always raced each other really clean. I think that this was no different.
Q. There's a lot of parity through three races. A lot of guys that don't normally run up front are running up front. Is there anybody that surprised you?
ALEX BOWMAN: I think last week was a good example of that. Erik I think surprised a lot of us being as fast as he was. I don't mean that as him not being a capable race car driver or Dave not being a good crew chief. I've worked with Dave in the past. I think Dave is a phenomenal crew chief.
That's a car that, like, historically hasn't been there. Really cool to see that. I think that's what this new car is all about. It was cool to see the 43 back up front with all the history behind that car.
So, yeah, to answer your question, I think there have definitely been people that have surprised people. My opinion is that you'll have that a lot through the first half of the season. Once the bigger teams get time developing things, you're never going to shut down the giant race teams, right?
I could be totally wrong on that. There's people way smarter than me making decisions. It will be interesting to see how the course of the year plays out.
Q. I assume you like the car, wouldn't tell me otherwise since you have a win. What do you like about it so far? Four wildly different tracks.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is that it's getting better, right? From where we started to where we are now, even where we started Fontana to where we are now, I think the cars have gotten better, the teams have gotten better at preparing them.
Yeah, I mean, there are things. We are race car drivers. We don't want everything that we touch in the entire car to change all of a sudden. The pedals are weird. The steering is way different. The seating position is different. Absolutely everything that I do as a race car driver has completely changed.
Historically I've loved loose race cars. Cried like a little girl when I'm tight. I now have to figure out how to drive a tight race car because I can't make a loose race car work anymore.
Just got to figure out new things, and it is hard. But, yeah, I think the car is doing what it's supposed to. The races have been great. Fontana historically was always won by like this big margin. Now we have close races each and every week. It's been really, really good.
THE MODERATOR: Alex, congratulations on the win. Good luck next week in your hometown.
ALEX BOWMAN: Thanks, guys.