Predicting Alex Bowman’s Playoff Chances

Getty Alex Bowman greets fans at Daytona International Speedway.

Hendrick Motorsports has announced that Alex Bowman has received medical clearance to return to NASCAR competition. This means he can now continue the pursuit of a playoff spot, but how will he fare?

On paper, Bowman is in a solid position to reach the playoffs for the sixth time as a Hendrick Motorsports driver. He is 17th in the standings after missing three points-paying races and only five points behind Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe.

Overcoming this point deficit should not be a significant hurdle for Bowman. He had the best average finish in the Cup Series (10.3) before his injury, and he drives for the winningest team in NASCAR.

As long as crew chief Blake Harris and the No. 48 team bring fast cars to the track, Bowman should have numerous opportunities to stack points and pass some of the other drivers.

Only nine drivers have won in 2023, so there are seven more spots available in the playoffs. One goes to the points leader and the rest go to the drivers with wins and those above the playoff cutline.

Based on Bowman’s early consistency, it’s likely that he will continue pushing for a playoff spot. He also has four straight seasons with at least one win, which indicates that he will keep this streak alive.

Bowman does not necessarily have to win to reach the playoffs, especially if Byron and Kyle Larson continue winning. He could potentially do so based on points alone. Though there are some favorable destinations remaining on the regular-season schedule.

There Are Favorable Tracks Remaining on the Schedule

GettyAlex Bowman waves to fans at Richmond Raceway.

There are 13 races remaining in the regular season, starting with the Coca-Cola 600. Many occur at tracks where Bowman has contended for wins or celebrated in Victory Lane.

For example, this list includes the race at Richmond Raceway on July 30. Bowman finished eighth in the spring race after starting from the pole. He also won at the Virginia track during the 2021 season.

The other potential tracks where Bowman could win are Charlotte Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway, and Michigan International Speedway. The Arizona native has several top-10 finishes at these tracks, and he has a previous trip to Victory Lane at Pocono.

Charlotte, in particular, has been the site of 21 Hendrick Motorsports wins. Drivers such as Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, and Jeff Gordon have all taken the organization to Victory Lane at NASCAR’s home track. Bowman hasn’t achieved this goal, but he has four top-10s and one top-five in the past six starts.

A Summer Stretch Also Presents Potential Hurdles

While there are multiple favorable tracks on the remaining schedule, there are also some where Bowman has seen his fair share of struggles. The 2022 season, in particular, saw multiple Hendrick Motorsports drivers struggling to contend for wins during the summer months.

Bowman’s stretch began after the lone off-week of the season. He finished 36th at Nashville Superspeedway after falling victim to the DVP clock. Two weeks later, he was involved in another crash at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

This stretch continued with a crash at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and another at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course. Bowman was able to complete races at Road America and Pocono Raceway, but he also failed to crack the top 10 in eight straight races.

Bowman was not alone. William Byron also crashed multiple times over the summer while securing only one top-10 finish in the final 12 races of the regular season.

Avoiding this summer stretch of struggles will be critical for Bowman and the No. 48 team. These races are the final ones leading up to the playoffs, and they will only have an increased level of intensity as winless drivers battle for the all-important trip to Victory Lane that will put them in the playoffs.


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