Alex Bowman still looking for ride in 2017

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After getting the best opportunity of his career, Alex Bowman is still waiting for the next one.

Bowman, who makes his ninth substitute start this weekend in the No. 88 Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr., says he has yet to nail down any plans for next season.

“I’m still waiting for the right opportunity to come along,” Bowman said Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. “There’s nothing that has really fit that has come along. I’ll still probably have my day job at Hendrick Motorsports driving the simulator. We’ll go from there.”

The 23-year-old driver then went out and give himself a potential boost for his job prospects. Bowman earned his first Sprint Cup pole for Sunday’s Can-Am 500 at Phoenix. The pole comes in his 80th Cup start.

“To do this in Phoenix, so close to home, means so much to me,” Bowman said afterward. “We have had such fast racecars we haven’t had an ounce of luck, but to get a pole here means a lot.”

It wasn’t long ago that the only racing plans Bowman had for this season were his eight Xfinity Series starts in JR Motorsports’ No. 88 Chevrolet.

Then Earnhardt was ruled out for the season, having sustained a concussion in June, but not presenting symptoms until July.

Bowman, who does simulator work for Hendrick Motorsports, was called in to replace Earnhardt for the first time July 15 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He split the rest of the season in the No. 88 with Jeff Gordon.

“This is great for his career, this is exactly what we were hoping to happen for him,” Earnhardt said. “Hopefully, he can put it together on Sunday.”

Bowman’s earned two top 10s in his nine starts.

“Really it’s been a big learning process on how Hendrick Motorsports works – the process on doing things, how they operate as a team,” Bowman said. “It’s been incredible to be a part of it, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot doing it. It’s been a lot of fun and a huge blessing in my life to do this. I’m trying to make the most of it but at the same time trying to have as much fun as I can. You never know when this is going to end or if you’re ever going to get an opportunity like this again.”

Bowman, a native of Tucson, Arizona, makes his final Xfinity start of the season this weekend at his home track. He is still looking for his first Xfinity win.

“There’s probably a little more pressure for sure, especially on the Xfinity side,” Bowman said. “We’ve been close to winning here before, so it would be amazing to pick up a first win here. We’re going to do everything we can to make that happen and hopefully sweep both races and make it easy.”

Bowman makes his final start in the Sprint Cup’s No. 88 next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

 

NASCAR America: Chase Elliott ‘biggest surprise’ of Cup playoffs

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Only two drivers are safely in the third round of the NASCAR Cup playoffs. Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski secured spots through their wins at Charlotte and Talladega.

That leaves six spots to be decided Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

NASCAR America analysts Parker Kligerman and Kyle Petty broke down the drivers competing for spots. Both of them agreed that Chase Elliott, who has finished in second in three of the five playoff races, has a great chance to make it all the way to the championship race in Miami.

“If Talladega had played out, he was either going to be in victory lane or in the top two or three,” Petty said. “When you look at that, he has had the most solid playoffs of any driver out there. We keep talking about the big three: Larson, Busch and Truex. This guy is a sleeper. But he’s my No. 4.”

Said Kligerman: “He’s been the biggest surprise. That 24 team has been incredible through the playoffs. One thing I’ve noticed about that team, just speaking to (crew chief) Alan Gustafson, speaking to Chase, it’s almost as if they want that first win more than they care about the playoffs.”

Watch the above video for more on the playoff drivers.

Friday’s NASCAR Cup, Xfinity schedule at Kansas Speedway

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Things get started today for the pivotal weekend at Kansas Speedway.

The NASCAR Cup Series will have its elimination race in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400, where four of the 12 remaining playoff drivers will not advance to the Round of 8.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series begins its Round of 8 with Saturday’s Kansas 300.

But it all begins today, as Cup has its first practice (the other two are Saturday) and qualifying, while the Xfinity Series will have its two practice sessions.

Here’s how today’s schedule shapes up:

(All times are Eastern)

10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. — Cup garage open

12 – 8:30 p.m. — Xfinity garage open

1 – 2:25 p.m. — First Cup practice (NBCSN, Motor Racing Network)

2:30 – 3:25 p.m. First Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

5 – 5:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

6:15 p.m. – Cup qualifying (multi-vehicle, 3 rounds) (NBCSN, MRN)

NASCAR: Will Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch advance in playoffs?

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The last two drivers to win NASCAR Cup titles are in precarious positions ahead of the Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway.

Kyle Busch, the 2015 champion, is outside the top eight in ninth. He sits seven points behind defending champion Jimmie Johnson.

NASCAR America analysts Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman debated who they think had the best chance to advance to the Third round after Sunday.

Petty put his money behind Busch, who has finished in the top five in each of his last five starts at the 1.5-mile track.

“He’s one of the big three: Truex, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson,” Petty said. “I don’t see where these (last) two races (Charlotte, Talladega) have changed anything. The one thing Kyle Busch brings into Kansas City … he brings speed. These guys have had speed all year-long.”

Johnson on the other hand has produced only four top fives all season and just one since he won at Dover in June.

But Kligerman explained why he thinks the seven-time champion will prevail on Sunday.

“Jimmie Johnson knows how to pass and that is what has become evident throughout this season,” Kligerman said. “No, they have not had the fastest cars at Hendrick Motorsports. No, they have not qualified well. They’ve actually been sort of abysmal at qualifying of late.

“… He has three wins this year. Two of those he started at the back.”

Watch the video for more.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN: Daniel Hemric, Daniel Suarez’ racing roots

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America begins at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to preview the Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman from Stamford, Connecticut.

On the show:

  • We’ll debate which past Cup Series champion will advance to the Round of 8. Defending champion Jimmie Johnson currently leads 2015 champ Kyle Busch by only seven points for the final transfer spot. Who has the edge going into Kansas this Sunday? This elimination race will be a heated competition just to finish above the cut line. Log on to NBCSports.com/NASCARVote and weigh in!
  • Xfinity Series playoff driver Daniel Hemric calls into the show to talk about his chances of advancing to the championship four in Miami. He’ll also describe his experience being one of the four drivers to participate in the recent tire test at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “Roval.”
  • We take a look at the Daniel Suarez’s Racing Roots and discuss his transition from Xfinity Series champion to Monster Energy Cup Series rookie.
  • Parker Kligerman hops into the iRacing simulator to preview Sunday’s elimination race at Kansas, as well as the Formula 1 race in Austin, Texas.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you can also watch it via the online stream at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.