As well as his second victory of the year it was his second $100,000 bonus after finishing highest the highest of the four Dash 4 Cash drivers. Each race that he has won this season has come when he won the bonus.
"I think it's a good spot for us," Jones said about his performance, reminiscing that there is a Chase race at Dover in the fall. "Today we had a car and hopefully that will be a race where we can grab ourselves a win and advance into the next round. We're racing for wins at this point of the year and trying to get as many points as we can before the Chase."
Staying out under caution, Darrell Wallace, Jr. restarted in fourth with five laps to go. Pushing Jones to the lead, the driver of the No. 6 found himself in second with a shot at his first career victory in the XFINITY Series.
"For all that we went through Friday, 'its like okay man this is your favorite track," Wallace said of his second-place finish. "We really had to work for it. When we fired off in the heat races we made some passes and if we could carry that we would have been fine. I was right for once."
The second-place finish was the highest for an African American in the XFINITY Series history, breaking his own record of third last season in Chicago.
Making his first start of 2016 in any NASCAR division, Alex Bowman came home with a third-place result. During the long 70-lap run that opened up the event, the No. 88 car went from fifth to the lead and in the process led 33 laps.
This was the first of nine races on the schedule for Bowman, a guy that thought he had a full-time ride in the Cup Series until NASCAR Media Week in January. Since then he competed in a few open wheel events, but later realized that it was discouraging knowing he wasn't in NASCAR.
"I hope my phone starts ringing and I get some more races," Bowman said of his effort Saturday which tied a career-high finish. "I've got nine races this year and at this point in my career those nine races are really going to define where it goes. I think with my experience in the Cup Series the last two years I have to go win some races. I have to prove that I should be here."
Justin Allgaier grabbed fourth-place after starting from pole. The No. 7 car was out front for the opening lap, but quickly faded to fifth where he ran near for the majority of the 120 laps. This is his eighth top-10 finish in 10 races this year.
Taking the lead on Lap 2, Ty Dillon went on to lead the next 11 circuits. During that long green flag run he quickly fell outside of the top 10, barely remaining on the lead lap before the first caution flew. With the late caution the No. 3 car got a good restart and drove up to round out the top five.
Elliott Sadler rebounded to a sixth-place result after starting from 32nd. In time trials, the No. 1 machine posted the third fastest lap, but jumped the initial restart and was black-flagged. In the first 20 laps of the race he had made his way inside the top 15. From there he just kept going.
Joey Logano, the first Cup Series regular finished seventh on Saturday. At a track where he has four career wins, the No. 22 car struggled throughout the day hovering around the back half of the top 10.
The two other Joe Gibbs Racing cars finished eighth and ninth. Matt Tift hung on to eight-place as Daniel Suarez was penalized late in the event, resulting in a ninth-place effort.
Two of the Richard Childress Racing cars had problems that didn't cause cautions, resulting in multiple laps down. Brandon Jones had a tire rub 20 laps in and made an unscheduled pit stop to repair the damage. He finished 25th. Paul Menard was running sixth when he had a tire go down losing three laps and finishing 29th.
The XFINITY Series has a week off before going to Charlotte on Memorial Day weekend. Sadler holds a four point lead on Suarez through 10 events.
The 2014 season was a year of new beginnings for BK Racing as it signed two rookie drivers in Alex Bowman and Ryan Truex. With two new faces on the team, both were eligible for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, in what was a rather larger rookie class in recent seasons.
Although the season officially kicked off with the Daytona 500, both drivers didn’t get the opportunity to begin their year with the Great American race. Bowman managed to qualify for his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut. Meanwhile, Truex missed to make the field during the Budweiser Duel 150 race. He didn’t get to start his first race with the No. 83 team until the following week at Phoenix.
As the season progressed, both Truex and Bowman received a new teammate in Cole Whitt, who joined the team after the closure of Swan Racing. With the addition of a third full-time Toyota Camry, BK Racing increased its opportunity to compete for Rookie of the Year honors as Whitt was also eligible.
All together, the three rookies had minimal highlights to their season. Truex made his debut at tracks such as Pocono Raceway – a track he had never raced before—and finished inside the top 20. Bowman captured his best results in the superspeedway races.
The team also saw some results that hurt them as well. At the end of the year, Bowman finished with six DNFs, Whitt had four DNFs and Truex had eight DNFs.
The year for Truex featured a lot of inconsistency, as his results throughout the season didn’t had him inside of the top 30 just twice at Martinsville and the August Pocono race. Along with the Daytona 500, he also failed to qualify for the races at Texas and Michigan. For the second race at Michigan, BK Racing replaced him with J.J. Yeley after a wreck in practice, where Truex suffered a concussion.
In September, following the race at Chicagoland Speedway, Truex was once again replaced in the No. 83 car – this time by Travis Kvapil. The race at Chicago was the last time Truex was drove the No. 83 after a 42nd-place finish. Although no explanation had been given at the time, it was later confirmed that Truex was no longer with BK Racing.
Despite the short year, Truex did manage to improve some of his results from his few starts in 2013. He captured a career-best finish of 20th at Pocono. His best qualifying effort was at the Richmond spring race, where he qualified eighth.
In 2014, Truex averaged a 35.6 finish and a 35.3 start.
Meanwhile, Bowman, one of the two original drivers in the BK racing line-up did finish out the year with the team. By the year’s end, he went on to finish in 35th-place within the standings. He captured a career-best finish at the Coke Zero 400 with a 13th-place finish.
Bowman also found some consistency during the races at Darlington, RIchmond and Talladega in the spring, finishing inside the top 30. In qualifying, Bowman's best starting effort came in the second Talladega race of the year, where he qualified in 14th.
As for his year end results, Bowman averaged a 32.5 finish and a 32.9 start in his rookie season in the Cup Series.
Whitt, the third BK Racing driver, fared a bit better than his teammates. Along with Bowman, he made all 36 starts (eight with Swan Racing) and averaged a 33.4 start and a 29.3 finish. He did, however, improve his average finish, as he averaged a 33.9 result in seven starts during the 2013 season.
The year didn't feature any of the BK Racing drivers finishing among the top-30 in the points. Whitt finished the highest of the three drivers. Truex’s season ended earlier than Bowman’s, but only finished four spots behind him in the final standings, in 39th.
As for the race for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, Whitt finished ahead of both Bowman and Truex, as he finished in fourth. Bowman finished in sixth and Truex finished seventh.
Heading into 2015, BK Racing has not made any announcements on what their driver line-up will look like, but one thing is for sure – Truex will not be returning. Truex’s future plans have yet to be announced, but he still has a developmental contract with Richard Petty Motorsports.
BK Racing team owner Ron Devine clarified with Speedway Digest that Bowman will be returning to the organization as they look to resign Dr. Pepper.
As for Whitt, his name has been connected with Front Row Motorsports in some off season rumors. In an e-mail to Speedway Digest several weeks ago, the Ford organization denied rumors that they have signed Whitt. However, Devine and co-owner Anthony Marlowe have confirmed that he will not return to the Toyota team.
With the off-season coming to a close soon, the organization is looking to continue fielding two-three full-time cars, with one part-time car. In the rumor mill to replace Truex include Kvapil, Yeley and Clay Rogers, who missed a race for Beard Motorsports after being out-run in qualifying by BK Racing’s start-and-park car, and eventually ran two events for BKR.
Being a rookie in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series might be one of, if not the most challenging part of some racer’s lives. This year, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year class is abundant. Even though one rookie has lost his ride due to funding issues, the rest of the rookie class appears to be secure in their seats – at least for the remainder for the season.
Alex Bowman, 21, is one of those rookies. Bowman is racing for the underfunded BK Racing organization. After releasing both of their primary drivers from the 2013 season, BK Racing opted to go with two rookie drivers at the helm of their Toyota Camry’s with Bowman as well as Ryan Truex. Together, the pair has had their struggles, but there is light at the end of the tunnel in Bowman’s eyes.
“The transition to the Cup Series has been a challenging one. Having a crew chief in Dave Winston and a great team around me, it has made that transition easier,” Bowman said.
After racing for RAB Racing in 2013, Bowman proved to BK Racing’s owner, Ron Devine, that he was capable of racing in NASCAR’s highest rank. Bowman tested for the organization over the off-season at Charlotte and also appeared at the Daytona test.
However, with the jump to the Sprint Cup Series, the No. 23 team has experienced adversity 12 races into the season. In his lone Nationwide Series season, Bowman had six top-10 finishes, and also had two pole awards. This year has been anything but successful though. His best finish was 22nd at the Auto Club Speedway, yet he has had seven finishes of 32nd or worse.
“The longer races have been the biggest transition for me. When you add the extra 100 or 200 miles or laps it takes time to get used to it,” he said to Speedway Digest. “We need to continue to get better each and every week and I feel that we will continue to become more competitive. We need to continue to get better each and every week and I feel that we will continue to become more competitive.”
What has been Bowman’s culprit this year? It is simple – bad luck. At Martinsville, he was on his way to a solid run, but wrecked multiple times and was relegated to a 36th place finish.
As an underfunded team, BK Racing utilizes Race Engines Plus, owned by Joey Arrington. Besides BK Racing, Joe Nemechek’s Identity Ventures Racing. Entering this season, expectations were not set high for Bowman, and he understood that. Moreover, the team has sporadically performed well this year, but their results don’t show it. Having three consecutive top-30 finishes at Darlington, Richmond and Talladega was a step in the right direction for this small team, even though it does not sound like the greatest of achievements.
“Probably my feedback to Dave and the crew guys. I continue to get use to the way these Sprint Cup Series cars drive compared to a Nationwide car,” Bowman said on what he needs to improve on.
Meanwhile, as Bowman continues to look for success, his teammate, the younger brother of Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr., has had some struggles. Truex has more experience in NASCAR competition than Bowman, but has not finished better than 30th this season after missing the Daytona 500 and the race at Texas. Currently, the No. 23 team with Bowman sits 34th in owner points and is relatively safe from missing races. Meanwhile, Truex's No. 83 team is 42nd in owner points, and is not guaranteed into each event.
Amidst their struggles, the two have developed a close bond, closer than just teammates. With such a small team, they are able to work with each other in multiple ways, on and off the race track. Besides developing a friendship, their crews led by Winston and Doug Richert, are now working better, and results are on their way.
“Ryan and I try to work together and compared notes and driving styles. Dave has been great to work with. Him brings a ton of knowledge from the team’s that he has worked with in the past. Dave is certainly a calming voice on the radio each weekend.”
As he continues to adjust to the higher level of competition, expect the Arizona native to run closer to the top half of the field. It is going to be a long, tough road, but Bowman believes he is up for the challenge. The new qualifying format which NASCAR implemented at Phoenix has also helped him gain extra experience, something extremely valuable for a driver looking to find a home for multiple years at a young organization.
“(The) Biggest adjustment is that these guys never take a lap off. Each and every lap they go as hard as they can.”