Alex Bowman hits wall, car catches fire in XFINITY race

Alex Bowman will start on the pole for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway.

He can only hope his Sunday afternoon at the 1-mile track goes better than his Saturday night did.

Bowman, driving the No. 88 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports in Saturday’s XFINITY Series race, had a left-front tire go down on Lap 55. That sent him into the outside wall, where his car suffered major damage and even briefly burst into flames under the hood on the right side that made contact with the wall.

Bowman said wasn’t sure what had happened to cut his tire, but that a cut tire definitely was what caused the issue.

“It’s unfortunate. I hate it for all these guys (on the team),” Bowman said. “Everybody at JR Motorsports works really hard and we had Hendrick Motorsports power under the hood. … We shouldn’t have been that far back to begin with, and to cut a tire, obviously something happened.”

Bowman will lead the Sprint Cup field to green in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in Sunday’s Can-Am 500. He is subbing in that race for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is out for the season because of a concussion.

The No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet of Alex Bowman catches fire after hitting the outside wall during Saturday night's XFINITY race at Phoenix.