While Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron (two) and Kyle Larson have together won three of the series’ first six races, Bowman struggled with a three-race stretch of no finish better than 18th.

He snapped that streak with a solid fourth place finish last week at Bristol and followed it up with another fourth Sunday at Circuit of the Americas.

Even better was Bowman and his No. 48 Chevrolet team put themselves in position late in Sunday’s race to contend for the win – a hopeful sign for a driver trying to end what is now a 67-race winless streak.

Bowman’s team was one of the first to hit pit road Sunday for its final green flag stop to take on new tires and fuel to make it to the finish. The gamble put Bowman back out on the track in second behind leader Byron.

Bowman appeared to make up ground on his teammate for a few laps but eventually he faded back to fourth as he was also told by his team he needed to conserve fuel as a precaution.

“I am just bummed,” Bowman said after the race. “Probably just got stuck out in traffic after our last pit stop. It was a bad spot that I had to run too hard on low air and beat the rear tires up.

“Kind of inched in on William for a bit, but then the rear tires just went away. Yeah, definitely had to manage it some. Definitely some tire fall-off here.

“We had a good day, just sucks to come up a couple short again.”

Still, Sunday’s result was Bowman’s third top five finish in the season’s first six races. He is already just one short of his top five total for each of the past two seasons (four). He’s also improved to 11th in the series standings.

Jeff Gordonvice chairman of Hendrick Motorsports, said he was glad to see Bowman and his team begin to tap into their potential.

“When he gets on a roll, he gets his confidence up; there’s no telling what they’re capable of doing,” Gordon said. “I’m really happy for them. Two top fives in a row. They’d had a couple rough weeks, so they needed this.

“Hendrick Motorsports is tough, right? Four of the top drivers and teams are out there, and there’s a lot of pressure on you. If you’re winning, there’s pressure to continue. When you’re not winning or you’re not at the same level as your teammates, there’s a ton of pressure that you got to get there.”

Gordon said he believes Bowman excels best at facing difficult challenges and the rocky start to the season after an impressive runner-up finish in the Daytona 500 certainly presented one.

“I’m going to leave here and try to find more ways to really challenge him even more,” Gordon said. “He’s a great race car driver. It just takes the whole combination.

“I think his confidence in the car, especially once they dropped the green flag, it showed.”

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