NASCAR: Alex Bowman wins rain-shortened race at Chicago street course

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 07: Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 165 at Chicago Street Course on July 07, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Alex Bowman won a rain-plagued NASCAR Cup Series race at Chicago on Sunday. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Alex Bowman put himself into the playoffs with a win in Chicago.

The street course race was plagued by rain for the second straight year and Bowman won the shortened race over Tyler Reddick thanks to a decision to stay out on treaded tires.

Bowman didn’t pit at the caution for the second stage and stayed out on track. He passed Joey Hand — a sports car driver making his first NASCAR start of the season — early in the third stage and then won the 58-lap race. Sunday’s race was originally scheduled for 75 laps but NASCAR announced shortly after it began that the race would end shortly after 8:20 p.m. CT.

Reddick was closing on Bowman in the final laps with slick tires on the drying track but clipped the side wall on the final lap. That contact ended any chance he had of catching Bowman for the win.

Bowman is the 12th different winner in 2024 and Sunday's victory is his first in 80 races. He said after the race that he second-guessed himself after he suffered a concussion at the end of the 2022 season and a broken back racing sprint cars in 2023. But he's back in victory lane now and joked that he and his team was going to be drinking a lot of bourbon in celebration.

"I'm probably going to wake up naked on the bathroom floor again," Bowman said.

Bowman didn't have a chance at winning the race until that pit call. Before the second stage ended, the two favorites for the win were Christopher Bell and Ty Gibbs. Both Joe Gibbs Racing drivers changed to slick tires before the end of the stage and lost track position as a result. Gibbs finished third, while Bell got wrecked thanks to contact from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. against his JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr.

After the race ended, Bubba Wallace showed his displeasure with Bowman. Contact from Bowman early in the race ruined Wallace's day. Bowman said after the race that he was still embarrassed about what happened with Wallace.

Is Mother Nature sending NASCAR a message about racing in downtown Chicago? The inaugural race was shortened by rain in 2023 before the rain ruined what could have been a good race in dry conditions in 2024.

The race began on a damp track after a passing shower before a caution on lap 16 for Corey LaJoie's crash. Rain caused an eight-lap caution for the crash and the end of the first stage, before a restart that was calamitous with multiple crashes in the rain. NASCAR race control realized it was a mistake to restart the race and then red-flagged it as the rain continued to fall.

NASCAR announced at the start of the race that it wouldn't go two laps further than 8:20 p.m. thanks to a rule that was implemented recently. That set ending meant NASCAR was in a race against the rain without any lights at the temporary track.

The race got restarted but NASCAR somehow decided it would be a good idea to keep the predetermined caution for the stage break at the end of the second stage. That lap 45 caution came with less than 30 minutes to go, meaning NASCAR purposely ran a pre-planned caution as time kept ticking toward a concrete end of the race.

Though the race got going after that caution, it was quickly halted again for Josh Berry's crash into the tire barriers on lap 50. Berry's wreck set up a sprint to the finish that included numerous crashes and cars into the wall — though none of them got stuck enough to ruin Bowman's run to the checkered flag.

Last year's race winner Shane van Gisbergen got crashed out of the race early in the second stage. As NASCAR made the ill-fated decision to restart the race on lap 24, Chase Briscoe lost control of his car and clipped the rear of van Gisbergen's car.

That contact sent van Gisbergen hard into the outside wall and ended his day.

Later in the second stage, after the race resumed following the rain delay, Kyle Larson crashed out when he locked his brakes.

Since the 165-mile race was shortened from its original distance, it ended up at just under 128 miles at the checkered flag. That's the shortest Cup Series race since 1992.

1. Alex Bowman

2. Tyler Reddick

3. Ty Gibbs

4. Joey Hand

5. Michael McDowell

6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

7. Todd Gilliland

8. William Byron

9. Kyle Busch

10. Ryan Blaney

11. Daniel Suarez

12. Daniel Hemric

13. Bubba Wallace

14. Noah Gragson

15. Austin Cindric

16. Justin Haley

17. Zane Smith

18. Brad Keselowski

19. Austin Dillon

20. Chris Buescher

21. Chase Elliott

22. Ross Chastain

23. Joey Logano

24. Carson Hocevar

25. Harrison Burton

26. Kaz Grala

27. Corey LaJoie

28. Josh Bilicki

29. Erik Jones

30. Denny Hamlin

31. Austin Hill

32. Chase Briscoe

33. Martin Truex Jr.

34. Ryan Preece

35. John Hunter Nemechek

36. Josh Berry

37. Christopher Bell

38. AJ Allmendinger

39. Kyle Larson

40. Shane van Gisbergen