JOLIET, Ill. — Alex Bowman is part of the club now, which means no more cracks about coming up empty.
He's a winner once again.
Bowman held off Kyle Larson for his first NASCAR Cup Series victory, leading a terrific performance for Hendrick Motorsports on Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway.
Bowman had one of the fastest cars during practice, and the strength of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet showed after the race was delayed by a storm. He had just six top-five finishes in 133 starts on NASCAR's top series before his banner day on the bumpy asphalt of the 1.5-mile tri-oval.
The 26-year-old Bowman's only other win on one of NASCAR's three national circuits came on the second-tier Xfinity Series in 2017. He took second in Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway, Dover International Speedway and Kansas Speedway this year, and he was sick of hearing about the hole on his résumé.
He said even veteran Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Chad Knaus, who oversees William Byron's car, had said something to him. Those days are over now.
"I was just tired of running second," Bowman said. "I don't want to do that anymore. I feel like this is the last box, aside from going and chasing a championship, that I needed personally for myself to validate my career."
Larson put together another memorable run a year after he lost an epic last-lap duel with Kyle Busch on the same track. Larson passed Bowman with about seven laps left, but Bowman quickly regained the lead and smartly navigated his way to the victory.
"He was struggling, and we were able to get to him and get by him, but he did a good job," said Larson, who drives for Chip Ganassi Racing. "He did a good job regrouping and figuring out how to make his car drive better."
Team Penske's Joey Logano, who leads Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch by 18 points for the top spot in the series standings, finished third. Hendrick's Jimmie Johnson was fourth and Penske's Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five.
It was Hendrick's second victory of the season after Chase Elliott won at Talladega in April. Byron finished eighth Sunday, when Elliott was 11th.
"So proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports," Bowman said.
JGR and Penske dominated the first half of the Cup Series season. Logano, Keselowski and Ryan Blaney finished in the top six for Penske at Chicagoland, but it was a difficult day for the top performers at JGR.
Martin Truex Jr. never really threatened and had to settle for ninth after winning last weekend on the road course at Sonoma Raceway in California. Busch had several problems with his car on his way to 22nd.
It was hot and humid when pole-sitter Austin Dillon led the field to the starting line, but thunderstorms quickly rolled in and halted the race after 11 laps. The wind picked up and rain pounded the track after the drivers and crew members retreated to their trailers.
When the race resumed after a delay of more than three hours, it was a completely different situation. The temperature dropped more than 20 degrees, forcing the teams to adapt on the fly after the cars were set up for hot, slick conditions. It also was the series' first stop at Chicagoland under its overhauled aerodynamics package, further complicating matters.
Stewart-Haas Racing's Kevin Harvick and Blaney each had tire trouble about 75 laps in, and while Harvick led five times for a race-high 132 laps, he remains winless in 2019 after finishing 14th.
Denny Hamlin won the first stage, but the JGR driver was penalized for having too many crew members over the wall during a pit stop in the last part of the race and finished 15th.
Formula One: Mercedes' streak is over
SPIELBERG, Austria — Max Verstappen showed off his risky racing style to win the Austrian Grand Prix for a second straight year and end Mercedes' unbeaten streak in Formula One this season.
Chasing the leading trio, the Red Bull driver used all of his overtaking skills to get past Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) and Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) in the closing stages of the race before passing leader Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) with just two of the 71 laps to go.
However, Verstappen had to wait more than three hours after the race to have his win confirmed. Race stewards investigated the Dutchman's pass of Leclerc as the wheels of both cars touched in a duel full of excitement often lacking in recent F1 races.
Leclerc held off an attempt by Verstappen in lap 68 but failed to do it again the next lap. The cars were coming out of the third turn side by side when their wheels bumped. Verstappen, on the inside, pushed Leclerc off the track.
FIA considered it "a racing incident" and "in the totality of the circumstances, we did not consider that either driver was wholly or predominantly to blame for the incident."
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was third, ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel. Season points leader Lewis Hamilton started fourth, but he lost time to replace the front wing of his Mercedes after 31 laps and finished fifth.