Career-best finish doesn’t satisfy Alex Bowman

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AVONDALE, Ariz. — A career-best finish left Alex Bowman frustrated.

That’s how much things have changed for the 23-year-old Arizona native, who until this year, drove underfunded and underpowered cars in the Sprint Cup Series.

But when Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sidelined by a concussion this summer, Hendrick Motorsports turned to Bowman and Jeff Gordon to drive the No. 88 car the rest of the year.

Bowman, who started on the pole Sunday, led a race-high 194 laps but saw his chances of winning end after contact with Matt Kenseth in overtime at Phoenix International Raceway. Bowman finished sixth.

MORE: Dale Jr. goes through gamut of emotions watching 88

He admitted part of his disappointment was with getting into Kenseth — although Kenseth’s spotter cleared Kenseth — along with not scoring a win when he had one of the best cars.

“Those last couple of restarts, I just didn’t do a very good job,’’ Bowman said on pit road after the race. “We should have been leading that last restart to begin with. That part of it is unfortunate, what happened with (Kenseth). I hate taking somebody out of the Chase like that. It ruined our day, too. There’s s no way we should have finished sixth. That’s the worst we were all day. It’s just frustrating.’’

The incident with Kenseth took place on a Lap 317 restart of what was a 324-lap race. Kenseth, who led, was on the outside lane. Bowman was on the inside.

“(Kenseth) spun his tires, and I had a pretty solid run and (Kyle Busch) hit me and I spun my tires,’’ Bowman said. “I tried to get a little low and (Busch) just turned me sideways. I was up against the inside wall. I think (Kenseth) thought he was clear. We didn’t get a terrible restart. It wasn’t the best, but we were going forward until (Busch) hit us. It’s just hard racing toward the end. You’re racing for the win in a Cup race.’’

Busch said he felt bad that his actions contributed to Kenseth, his teammate, not advancing to the championship round. Had Kenseth won, he would have advanced. Instead, Busch got the final spot.

“Right now it feels pretty s‑‑‑ty, but tomorrow it might feel a lot better,’’ Busch said of being in the title race. “I’m not sure, depends on what Matt’s interpretation is and whether or not he can forgive. You know, I just feel really bad about what happened there on that last restart. 

“It just wasn’t what I anticipated having happen, and I just feel bad. (Kenseth) should have been the Gibbs car to go through, and I was just trying to make a position there on (Bowman), felt like I was to his inside and had the position. 

“I was hoping I could get (Bowman) … and force him up and have him kind of block (Joey Logano) and check up the outside row and then I could have a position between me and (Logano) and get myself and (Kenseth) in.’’

Still, Bowman acknowledged that Kenseth might not be too happy with him even though Kenseth never said anything disparaging about Bowman after the race.

“He’s probably really mad at me right now I’d imagine, but hopefully we can move past it and race clean at Homestead,’’ Bowman said.

It will be his final race in the No. 88 with Earnhardt expected back for the start of the next season.

One more chance to drive one of the best cars in the garage.

“There were a lot of guys in the garage that can get the job done and run up front, they just don’t get the opportunity to show it, and I’m just thankful that I was given the opportunity to show it today,’’ said Bowman, whose previous career-best finish was seventh last month at Kansas. ”Our race car was really good all day.  Best car on long runs by far. It was just a lot of fun.’’

Until the end.

Starting lineup for Cup race at Richmond

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Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott will start on the front row for Saturday night’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway.

Truex won his third pole of the season.

The top five is completed by Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Kyle Busch, who is trying to win a third consecutive race, qualified 32nd.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Martin Truex Jr. wins pole for Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway

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Martin Truex Jr. qualified first for Saturday’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway, winning his third pole of the season.

Truex claimed the pole with a speed of 123.859 mph around the .75-mile track. The Toyota Owners 400 will mark Truex’s 450th Cup start. Truex had DNFs in the last two races.

“It’s definitely been a crappy two weeks,” Truex told Fox Sports 1. “But that’s part of racing. This team, I’ve got so much faith and confidence in them and everything we’re doing. You can’t let those kinds of things get you down. It was nothing we did, just circumstances. Just proud of the effort today.”

The pole matches Truex’s total from last year.

Chase Elliott qualified second (123.621 mph). The top five is completed by Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Ryan Blaney will start 12th, followed by Ryan Newman, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson.

Daniel Hemric will start 22nd in his first Cup start.

Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski both failed to advance out of the first round. Keselowski will start 28th and Busch will start 32nd.

“We didn’t make a mock run in practice and then we thought the spread would be about three tenths (of a second),” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “It wasn’t, it was faster than that. We only ran two laps trying to make sure we preserve out tires for later on deeper into the session. A bunch of those guys ran three laps and obviously we needed that third lap. It would have picked up. For some reason the tire here today, even in race trim, your fastest lap was the seventh lap. So just takes awhile for everything to come in. Just trying to short cut it a little bit and it didn’t work out for us.”

Click here for qualifying results.

Cole Custer wins pole for Xfinity race at Richmond

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Cole Custer will start first in tonight’s Xfinity Series race at Richmond Raceway after earning his second consecutive pole.

Custer won the pole for the ToyotaCare 250 with a lap of 121.332 mph. He earned his first career pole last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver will be joined on the front row by Christopher Bell (120.881 mph). He has started on the front row in four of the first eight races this season.

The top five is rounded out by Austin Cindric, Daniel Hemric and John Hunter Nemechek.

Cindric will start in the top five for the first time this season.

Hemric is the highest qualifying of the four Dash 4 Cash drivers. Justin Allgaier will start seventh and Elliott Sadler will roll off eighth. Spencer Gallagher will start 17th.

Noah Gragson will start 11th in his Xfinity debut.

Tyler Reddick suffered some cosmetic damage when he scrapped the frontstretch wall in Round 2. He will start 10th.

Click here for qualifying results.

Tonight’s Xfinity race at Richmond: Start time, lineup and more

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The Xfinity Series is back on a short track for round two of the Dash 4 Cash series. Justin Allgaier, Elliott Sadler, Daniel Hemric and Spencer Gallagher will compete for the $100,000 bonus tonight at Richmond Raceway.

Here is all the info for tonight’s race.

(All times are Eastern)

START:  Leslie Gravitte, Toyota Camry owner, will give the command to start engines at 7:07 p.m for the ToyotaCare 250. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 7:13 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 250 laps (187.5 miles) around the .75-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 75. Stage 2 ends on Lap 150.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Driver/crew chief meeting is at 5:10 p.m. Driver introductions are at 6:35 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Henrico Fire Choir will perform the anthem at 7:01 p.m.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race beginning at 7 p.m. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 6:30 p.m. and also can be heard at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for a high of 59 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Kyle Larson took the lead with 10 laps to go to win this race last April. He was followed by Justin Allgaier and Daniel Hemric. Brad Keselowski won last September’s race and was followed by Kyle Busch and Ty Dillon.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for starting lineup.