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: Steve Letarte on challenges of avoiding speeding penalites

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NBC Sports analysts Steve Letarte joined the NASCAR on NBC podcast this week. One of the topics the former crew chief discussed is the challenge of avoiding speeding penalties on pit road. Letarte said the introduction of digital dashboards has made it even harder.

Watch the video to hear his thoughts.

NASCAR America: Comparing severity of Harvick, Keselowski and Allmendinger penalties

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NASCAR handed out two crew chief suspensions in the Cup this week following the race weekend in Phoenix while another was upheld on appeal.

Brad Keselowski‘s crew chief, Paul Wolfe, was suspended three races and the team was docked 35 driver and owners points for failing weights and measurements in post-race inspection.

Kevin Harvick‘s crew chief, Rodney Childers, was suspended one race and the team docked 10 driver and owner points for an unapproved track bar slider assembly.

The penalties for AJ Allmendinger‘s team, including the suspension of crew chief Randall Burnett, was upheld after an appeal.

The NASCAR America crew debates which team is hurt the most by their penalties.

 

Mario Andretti tries out, approves of Charlotte Motor Speedway road course

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We now have two positive reviews of the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course.

Following AJ Allmendinger‘s comments back in January, IndyCar legend Mario Andretti has shared his thoughts on the 2.4-mile circuit that will likely host a NASCAR Cup race in fall 2018.

As a guest of the track and the NASCAR Racing Experience, the 77-year-old driver piloted two cars – a 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid and a 2017 Cadillac CTS-V. Andretti maxed out at 177 mph in the Porsche.

“It’s very difficult sometimes to really create a road course where you can ‘stretch your legs’ inside an oval,” Andretti said in a press release. “From that standpoint, I think they did a good job by giving it rhythm by putting some banking to the hairpin corners – which obviously invites some overtaking. It’s wide enough that you can choose a line. You’re not really trapped. … It’s got a multiple-line (groove) that you can choose from, depending on the capability of the car.”

The “roval” circuit would use most of the 1.5-mile oval NASCAR already competes on.

Allmendinger took part in a data test on the road course in mid-January and later said it “was a lot of fun.”

Earlier this month, Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Marcus Smith said the track “learned a lot” from the test.

“We have done a lot to engineer a world-class road course that would include the ‘roval,'” Smith told NBC Sports, adding that “several truckloads of crash walls and catchfence” were being transported in for installation.

The Cup Series has two road courses on it schedule, at Sonoma Raceway in California and Watkins Glen International in New York.

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Drivers unhurt in crash of Furniture Row Racing hauler near Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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The drivers of the Furniture Row Racing hauler carrying Erik Jones’ No. 77 Toyota were uninjured Thursday in a hit-and-run accident 15 miles north of Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Travis Watts, who was behind the wheel, and David Shano were traveling from Phoenix Raceway to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, when their tractor-trailer rig was struck shortly after midnight on Interstate 15, according to a team release. The team said a car carrying two occupants pulled off the shoulder and back onto the highway directly in front of the truck, causing front-end damage to the tractor.

The team said there was no damage to the trailer or its interior, which was carrying Jones’ cars.

“We’re all very relieved no one was injured in the incident,” team president Joe Garone said. “There was substantial damage to the tractor, but everything in the trailer was checked out thoroughly and is OK. We’ve rented a tractor and the No. 77 hauler is on schedule to arrive at Auto Club Speedway later (Thursday).”

The team rented a replacement tractor at a Rush Truck Centers in North Las Vegas.

According to the team, the Nevada Highway Patrol apprehended and arrested the occupants of the car. The team is working to supply police with a video dash cam from the No. 77 tractor.