Does it matter how you win?
This past weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, we saw Alex Bowman win the Penzoil 400 after passing Kyle Larson on the final overtime restart. Bowman was able to be in position to win the race after a late caution that allowed his team to boost him to the front row after taking only two tires on the final restart. He was running in the top 5 at the time of the caution with three laps left but was close enough to win from where he was. Following the race, there was a lot of backlash and discussion online about the way in which Bowman seems to win races. As I commented on before in my third blog post, Bowman has a knack for showing up late in races and “stealing” the win. This brings up the question: Does it matter how you win a race?
My short answer to this question would be a hard NO. Under the current playoff format, winning is everything. It doesn’t matter how you come by them, a win gets you into the playoffs and locks you in as one of the top 16 teams of the year. That is a big deal. Each win counts for the same amount of points, no matter if you lead every lap and dominate the race, or lead just the last one. The only reason that the way someone wins races is when determining who will be a threat for the championship. A champion ultimately must be able to dominate races on a consistent basis, leading bunches of laps and contending for wins each week. This is where Bowman falls short. He is not at the front of the pack consistently enough to be taken seriously as a championship threat. Until he starts to do this, he will continue to have the reputation as someone who “backs into wins” as Kyle Busch put it so nicely.