Share This Post


Conservative strategy right call for Alex Bowman

With the 2018 Daytona 500 pole already in hand, Alex Bowman played things conservatively Thursday night in the Can-Am Duels at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. After starting the first Duel on the front row, he dropped to the back at the start, rode around back there and wound up 14th out of 20 cars at the finish.

As a result of his strategy, Bowman caught flak from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veteran driver and 2014 Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick.

“Alex Bowman didn’t learn anything today, in my opinion,” Harvick said. “Riding around and starting on the pole is great, but not knowing what your car is going to do is a complete wast of time, in my opinion.”

Harvick, who watched the first Duel after running in the second, is right. Bowman probably didn’t learn anything by riding around in the back. But, really, didn’t anybody else learn Thursday night what their car will do come Sunday afternoon? If so, probably not much, and here’s why I say that.

The Can-Am Duels were night races, but the Daytona 500 is not. Barring some kind of significant delay because of weather, etc., the Daytona 500 will be an afternoon affair. Race cars handle differently during the day than they do at night.

Also, at least most cars still carried their qualifying setups Thursday night, as cars were impounded between last Sunday afternoon’s front-row qualifying session and Thursday night’s races. Teams are now in the processes of switching their cars over from qualifying setups to race setups. Long story short — these cars won’t have the same setups under them Sunday afternoon that they had Thursday night.

So, did anybody learn a whole heck of a lot about their cars and how they’ll race in the Daytona 500 during Thursday night’s Duel races? Probably not.

So, what would Bowman have had to gain by getting racy Thursday night? Other than the possibility of up to 10 points that eventual winner Ryan Blaney received, not much.

Granted, watching one of the fastest cars cruising in the back isn’t exciting to watch, I don’t blame Bowman one bit for his conservative, boring strategy. The racing was pretty hairy, especially in the first Duel. Remember, that first Duel produced four cautions, one that sent the race into overtime, and after the race, five of the 20 drivers in that Duel were making plans to go to backup cars for the 500. If Bowman had suffered a similar fate, he’d be right beside two of his three Hendrick Motorsports teammates in rolling out backups for Sunday’s main event.

It just wasn’t worth the risk. Safe, and boring, sure, but Bowman and his team made the right call for them. They had everything to lose but very little to gain.

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (

Share This Post

Posted by on February 16, 2018. Filed under Blog by Amanda Vincent,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply