The result was that Bowman hit his Hendrick Motorsports teammate and spun Larson in the left-hand corner. That cost Larson several spots and the chance to take the regular season points lead after Sunday’s race at Road America — Larson is three points behind Denny Hamlin.
Larson went on to finish 16th Sunday. Bowman had to pit for repairs and placed 22nd. After the race, Bowman walked down pit road to apologize to Larson, who later said he had “no hard feelings.”
“I got in there and went to the brake pedal and I had no brake pedal,” Bowman told NBC Sports. “Hate that I ran over my teammate because of it. I knew my brakes were hot, and I was trying to run a different lane down the straightway to get them cooler.
“Obviously wasn’t enough and got in there and realized I wasn’t going to stop and it was too late to get right of him. I figured if I really obviously got left that maybe he would see me. Obviously, it wasn’t the case.
“Bummed. Hate it. Don’t ever want to crash your teammate. Kyle and I are good buddies. We race each other super clean and I turned him around because I just couldn’t stop.”
#NASCAR … @Alex_Bowman walked down pit road to apologize to @TeamHendrick teammate @KyleLarsonRacin for spinning him late in the race at @roadamerica Bowman said his brakes went out. Larson later said “no hard feelings.” pic.twitter.com/dxcewZzboZ
— Dustin Long (@dustinlong) July 4, 2021
Larson said he had no issues with Bowman.
“Obviously, it’s not on purpose,” Larson said. “It’s hard to be upset with that. Disappointed I got spun, whatever. He just apologized and said his brake pedal was getting spongy halfway down, and I think he got in there hot.
“I didn’t even know he was coming and turned left and got spun. Hate that happened. Hate that we probably gave up a top-five or -six finish. We’ll go to Atlanta next week where we led a bunch of laps earlier this year and try to get back on the horse.”
Larson said he likely would forget the contact with Bowman soon after the race.
“It’s my teammate,” Larson said. “I know it’s not on purpose. I’m not going to be angry at somebody. No hard feelings. We race really well together. I’ll honestly probably forget about it by the time we get to the airplane.”
As to why Bowman had brake issues, Chad Knaus, vice president of competition for Hendrick Motorsports, explained what happened.
“I’m sure you guys heard a lot of folks on the track had brake issues,” Knaus said after the race. “It was getting hot. If you look at that series right there, there were five cars that were really racing hard – (Hamlin, Larson and Bowman were) in the mix catching those guys.
“As you’re approaching on those groups of cars like that, you starve your car for air. Your water temperature increases, your brake temperature increases. He went in there pretty hot, obviously tried to get some position, to protect against the 11 (Hamlin). It’s unfortunate that they rolled in there with a soft brake pedal and got into (Larson).
“I don’t think there’s anything for us to be concerned about from a management standpoint at Hendrick Motorsports. There’s a tremendous amount of respect between our drivers, crew chiefs and teams. It was unfortunate. It was a racing situation. But we’ll get home, talk about it, make sure there’s nothing ill willed that comes out of this.”