Alex Bowman focused on win to join teammate Chase Elliott in next round

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Alex Bowman’s hopes of advancing to the next round of the playoffs will rely as much as on help from others as what he does.

Bowman enters Sunday’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC) last among the 12 playoff drivers in the standings. He is 34 points out of the final transfer spot.

I don’t think stage points are going to help us make the transfer to the next round,” Bowman said Saturday. “I think a win is going to have to get it done.”

That’s where he can use the help of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates.

Teammate Chase Elliott has moved on to the next round with his win last weekend at Dover. Jimmie Johnson was eliminated in the first round and William Byron did not make the playoffs.

A focus for Hendrick Motorsports will be to help Bowman advance in the playoffs.

“I’m appreciative of any help they give me, and I will take what I can get, but I don’t know exactly what that is going to be,” Bowman said. “ We have had situations where just the four of us have tried to work together before and we have never been able to make it work like some of the other manufacturers have. We have some work to do just to get all that ironed out, let alone trying to push one car to the front.”

But what is the responsibility for Elliott? Help his teammate or seek to score more stage or playoff points since he’s still in title contention?

I know that if I was in his position I would certainly want at least my teammates not to hurt my effort,” Elliott said. “You don’t want to impede that progress, but I feel like the boss (car owner Rick Hendrick) has always kind of been a race win guy and I don’t think he is ever going to let something like that pull me out of a potential contention to win or me laying over to let him win. That stuff is, to me, never really been the topic of conversation at Hendrick Motorsports since I’ve been there. 

“I think the topic will probably be more along the lines of just try not to hurt one another and try to help (Bowman) when we can. I am certainly open to doing that. If he can move on as well that does nothing but help all of us in our company.”

Bowman has found his way to the front in the three restrictor-plate races this season. He’s lead 40 laps, which ranks most among all Chevrolet teams and fourth this season. 

MOST LAPS LED ON RESTRICTOR-PLATE TRACKS THIS SEASON

118 — Ryan Blaney

73 — Joey Logano

66 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

40 — Alex Bowman

33 — Denny Hamlin

30 — Brad Keselowski

26 — William Byron

24 — Martin Truex Jr.

21 — Kurt Busch

20 — Kevin Harvick

20 — Michael McDowell