Alex Bowman’s career day marred by Kenseth incident

Alex Bowman had a career-best day in Sunday’s Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, but a late-race incident with Chase contender Matt Kenseth overshadowed it.

Restarting alongside race leader Kenseth, Bowman was roughed up by Kyle Busch as they raced into Turn 1. Bowman was forced to take a lower line into the corner. Kenseth, thinking he was clear of Bowman, dove to the bottom line as well, making contact with the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

The contact sent Kenseth for a spin, hitting the wall hard and ending his chances to advance into the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“We had the best car all day long. Really disappointed,” said Bowman after the race. I hate that we got into Matt (Kenseth) like that. Just really disappointing end to the day, but one of those deals. Just a racing deal. I don’t know if his spotter cleared him or what, but I was up against the inside wall when we made contact.

Although Kenseth was frustrated with his own spotter and Busch felt partially responsible afterward, Bowman couldn’t help but feel guilty.

“I will go talk to the No. 20 and explain what happened,” Bowman said. “I feel bad, but there was really nothing I could do. You get defensive there into Turn 1 and his spotter cleared him because he just drove across the nose like he thought he was clear. It’s unfortunate and I hate that. Maybe I just got in there too deep but I was against the inside wall when we made contact.”

“The last couple of restarts I just didn’t do a good job and we should have been leading that last restart to begin with,” he added. “That part of it is unfortunate and yeah, what happened to the No. 20, I just hate taking somebody out of the Chase. It ruined our day too.”

After earning his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole, Bowman was the class of the field throughout the day, leading a race-high 194 laps.

But that was all marred by the run-in with Kenseth.

Settling for a disappointing sixth-place finish, Bowman was mad he was unable to cultivate his stellar performance into a win in his home state of Arizona.

“There is no way we should have finished sixth or whatever we were,” Bowman added. “That is the worst we were all day. It’s just frustrating.”

Next Sunday at Homestead, Bowman will compete in his final Sprint Cup race subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Despite the disappointment, Bowman’s strong showing at Phoenix has the potential to propel him into a full-time ride for next season, as his future remains uncertain.

“That is just what I needed to be able to show this,” said Bowman. “I am very thankful for that opportunity but there are plenty of other guys that are good enough to drive stuff, but they just don’t get the opportunity to show it.”