Alex Bowman Earns NASCAR Cup Series Berth with NASCAR Chicago Street Race Victory

On a wet-and-dry day on the streets of Chicago, crew chief Blake Harris made the right call, and driver Alex Bowman promised to wet his whistle after ending an 80-race drought.

“The last time we won, we didn’t really get to celebrate—we’re going to drink so much damn bourbon tonight,” said Bowman, who clinched a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with his victory in Sunday’s Grant Park 165 at the Chicago Street Race.

“It’s going to be a bad deal. I’m probably going to wake up naked on the bathroom floor again. That’s just part of this deal sometimes.”

Driving the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Bowman claimed the eighth victory of his career with a pass of sports car ace Joey Hand on Lap 51—moments before Josh Berry plowed into the tire barrier in Turn 2 of the 2.2-mile, 12-turn course to cause the fifth and final caution.

At that point, the race was on the clock, thanks to a heavy rain that had caused a lengthy stoppage after Lap 25. Facing a deadline of 8:20 p.m., with two laps to follow that point in the race, Bowman held off runner-up Tyler Reddick to win an event shortened from 75 to 58 laps because of the delay.

Harris got his first win as a crew chief by keeping Bowman out on older wet tires after the final caution. Neither Christopher Bell, who arguably had the best car in the race, nor Reddick could catch Bowman over the closing laps.

Bell’s charge to the front was blunted by a five-car melee, and Reddick nicked the wall and lost momentum on the final lap.

“We were catching Alex by a large margin there, and, I don’t know, that puzzles me,” said Reddick, who finished second for the second straight week. “I clearly just screwed up. Trying to stay in the dry groove, and I had more than enough of dry groove… I cut the wheel a little too hard.”

Bowman crossed the finish line with a 3.447-second edge over Reddick to score his first win since March 6, 2022 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“Man, I broke my back (in a sprint car accident), had a brain injury, and we’ve kind of sucked ever since,” Bowman said. “I didn’t… you start to second-guess if you’re ever going to get a chance to win a race again.”

Enhancing Bowman’s opportunity on Sunday was the ill fortune that befell the top two contenders.

Halfway through the restart lap for Stage 2 (Lap 25), the complexion of the race changed dramatically. Chase Briscoe, out of control in his No. 14 Ford, slid toward the tire barrier in Turn 6 and clipped the rear of the Chevrolet of defending winner Shane van Gisbergen.

The impact propelled van Gisbergen’s Camaro nose-first into the outside wall at the exit from the corner, and the car came to rest, unable to continue. Van Gisbergen’s exit suddenly raised the stakes for the drivers who trailed him to the finish line in Stage 1.

After leaving the infield care center, van Gisbergen watched a replay of the incident.

“Just sort of turned in, looked pretty good and then just got smashed by someone (Briscoe),” the New Zealander said. “Just gutting. The car was really good. We were in the lead for a lot of that race and, you know, felt good taking off in the rain. That sucks—an unfortunate mistake by him, but I’m sure he didn’t mean it.

“But, yeah, when he just clipped me, there was nothing I could do. Of course I’m disappointed. We had a pretty amazing Camaro there… I felt like I was driving well within myself. It’s a shame to be out so early and a shame we couldn’t have a proper crack at it at the end.”

By the time Briscoe delivered the coup de grace to the No. 16 Chevy, Gibbs had wrested the lead from Zane Smith, who stayed out on older wet tires, and Bell, who was first off pit road during the stage break.

The field didn’t complete Lap 25 before NASCAR called the second caution of the race for heavy rain. After a red-flag period of 1 hour, 43 minutes, one second, the race resumed and went green on Lap 31, with Bell retaking the lead from Gibbs before completion of that circuit.

On Lap 34, pole winner Kyle Larson, in pursuit of Gibbs, hydroplaned into the Turn 6 tire barrier, damaging his No. 5 Chevrolet beyond repair.

In a race where late strategic calls scrambled the field, Gibbs led a race-high 17 laps and came home third, followed by Hand and Michael McDowell. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Todd Gilliland, William Byron, Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney completed the top 10.

Bell led 14 circuits, but he, Gibbs and Reddick pitted for slick tires on Lap 43 and couldn’t get back to the front.

For the second straight year, rain shortened the NASCAR Cup race at the Chicago Street Race, but the wet weather did little to diminish the festival atmosphere that captivated the Windy City throughout the weekend.

“I’ve raced about every street course in the country and a lot around the world, and you won’t find a backdrop like this,” said Hand, who led seven laps on wet tires before Bowman led the final eight.

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