Alex Bowman, Ryan Preece and Daniel Hemric earn career-best finishes in Talladega

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If not for a last-lap wreck and the resulting caution, Alex Bowman could have made his first visit to victory lane in the Cup Series.

But the Hendrick Motorsports driver lost his chance at a last-lap battle with teammate Chase Elliott and had to settle for second place Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. It’s his career-best finish through 127 Cup starts.

Bowman also claimed his first top 10 through the first 10 races in 2019 and his first top five since the Charlotte Roval last September. It capped off a day where he placed second in every stage of the race and led eight laps, his first of the season.

Bowman entered the race with a season-best result of 11th twice (Daytona and Las Vegas). While he has only one DNF (Phoenix), he hadn’t finished better than 14th in the six races before Talladega.

“I’m glad to kind of turn things around,” Bowman said. “It’s been a rough start to the year and these guys deserve way better than the finishes they’ve had. So, to come home second is not a win, but it’s headed in the right direction.”

Bowman was one of three drivers in the top five who enjoyed career days.

He was joined by rookies Ryan Preece and Daniel Hemric. All three drivers contributed to Chevrolet claiming five of the top six spots.

Preece followed Elliott and Bowman in third place in his 15th career start while Hemric placed fifth in his 12th start.

It was just the second time Preece had competed at Talladega following an Xfinity Series start in 2016.

“It was awesome,” Preece said. “Ultimately, it was a perfect situation for Chevy there on that restart, being able to line up and push each other and really not give the other manufacturers an opportunity to get by us. So, a great day for Kroger and for JTG (Daugherty Racing), and hopefully we can use this momentum moving forward.”

Preece has two top 10s this season. He finished eighth in the Daytona 500.

Hemric’s result was also his first top 10 through 12 races in Richard Childress Racing’s No. 8 Chevy.

Before Sunday, his best result was 16th at Phoenix in March.

“Chevrolet and all the drivers and teams put in the effort to communicate here in the last few weeks to try and stay dedicated and committed to each other,” Hemric said. “We’ve talked about it in the past, but we’ve never had such unity on the racetrack like we had today. That’s what led to us ultimately having our best finish as a group.”