Alex Bowman dominates en route to Auto Club win

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Alex Bowman dominated, leading 110 of the 200 laps to win Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

It was the second career Cup win for the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, adding to last year’s triumph at Chicagoland Speedway.

“I’ll take it, after last week, I wish we would have had three (career wins),” Bowman told Fox. “We’ve been so good to start this season. We started the season very poorly over the last two years and it just means the world to show up at the race track and have the first run be almost perfect and just be able to fine-tune the race car. (Crew chief) Greg Ives has made the right calls.

“We’ve got to go win a bunch more, but man, it feels good to have one this early.”

Bowman — who finished 24th at Daytona and 13th at Las Vegas — now has one more thing to do to celebrate his win.

“I promised my buddy Aaron we’d get matching 88 tattoos if I won, and I think I have to go get a tattoo now, but it’ll be a good time,” Bowman said.

MORE: Results, point standings after Auto Club 400

Kyle Busch finished second, followed by Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Kyle Busch told Fox. “We tried to work on it and make everything we could all day long, all weekend long. It wasn’t a second-place car but thankfully we got a good finish out of here. We finished the end of last year so strong, I don’t know what we’re missing here.”

Ryan Blaney was on track to potentially finish second but was forced to pit on Lap 197 of the 200-lap race when he suffered an issue with his right rear tire. Blaney led 54 laps and  finished 19th.

“Racing happens, just a cord in the right rear there at the end and gave up a good finish,” Blaney told Fox. “It just didn’t work out in our favor. Just an unfortunate end to the day again.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Alex Bowman

STAGE 2 WINNER: Ryan Blaney

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Kyle Busch (second) and Kurt Busch (third) both earned their first top-10 finishes of the season. Kyle finished 34th at Daytona and 15th at Las Vegas, while older brother Kurt was 33rd at Daytona and 25th at Las Vegas. … Tyler Reddick was the highest finishing rookie (11th).

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Midway through the first stage, Denny Hamlin forced Kyle Larson into the wall, causing moderate damage to Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet. Larson pitted and and fell off the lead lap while repairs were made and was never a factor from there. Larson finished 21st. … Cup rookie Christopher Bell’s woes continue. He finished last in the 38-car field due to bolt coming off another car and knocking a hole in his car’s oil cooler, following finishes of 21st at Daytona and 33rd at Las Vegas.

NOTABLE: Each of the three manufacturers have now won a race this season: Toyota (Daytona), Ford (Las Vegas) and Chevrolet (Auto Club). … Making his second start for the injured Ryan Newman, Ross Chastain finished 17th, an improvement from his 27th place finish last week at Las Vegas. … There were no post-race inspection issues, although the No 8 (Tyler Reddick) and No. 41 (Cole Custer) each had one unsecured lug nut.”

WHAT’S NEXT: The three-race West Coast swing concludes at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, March 8 at 3:30 p.m. ET on Fox.

Follow @JerryBonkowski