NASCAR: 3 young drivers next in line for their first Championship 4

Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /
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Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

First-time NASCAR Championship 4 drivers: No. 2 – Alex Bowman

Alex Bowman has almost always been an extreme hit or miss driver during his NASCAR Cup Series career.

Bowman has had various spells across his career where he has won races, gone on long dry spells, and then won again. The 2021 season provided the best example of this, as he won four races but was far from consistent enough to mount a serious title challenge.

Still, he still showed a ton of promise that year, setting career-highs in wins, top five finishes, and top 10 finishes. He had improved his results drastically every season up until that point and looked poised to take another step forward in 2022.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. In fact, he took a step back, scoring just one win and four top five finishes en route to a 16th place finish in the standings. He was ultimately eliminated in the playoffs after missing races with a concussion he suffered at Texas Motor Speedway.

And then came 2023, when he suffered a fractured vertebra in a sprint car accident early in the season, causing him to miss four races after he had spent time as the points leader. Unfortunately, when he did return, the speed did not.

The No. 48 team struggled all season with a lack of performance, a lot of incidents, and poor results. Bowman missed the playoffs and failed to win a race while only scoring four top five finishes and ten top 10 finishes with an average finish of 17.2. It was his worst season since joining Hendrick Motorsports full-time in 2018.

Of course, there are many factors that could have played into his poor performance. Could he have been feeling the aftereffects of his vertebra injury, as well as potential concussion symptoms from his crash in 2022?

Regardless, it’s still important to note that Bowman will now be getting nearly three months to fully recover and reset before the 2024 season. Entering the first year of a new three-year contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports, he will want to perform now more than ever, especially with primary sponsor Ally Financial being in the first year of their new five-year extension as well.

If he can get back to his 2021 form, he will undoubtedly be a threat to make it to the Championship 4 for the first time, especially given how important clutch victories can be with the current playoff format.