FONTANA, Calif. -- Before Alex Bowman started looking for tattoo shops somewhere between Los Angeles and Phoenix, he celebrated a win that suggested even more permanent success ahead for the hard-working driver and his resurgent team.
Bowman raced to his second career NASCAR Cup Series victory Sunday, holding off Kyle and Kurt Busch at Fontana.
The win was the culmination of a tremendously encouraging weekend for Bowman, who has run 156 Cup races without extraordinary success. He is in the final year of his contract with Hendrick Motorsports.
But his No. 88 Chevrolet felt like the fastest car on this weathered, wide asphalt from the moment they unloaded -- and Bowman decisively proved he knew what to do with it.
"We've been so good to start this season," Bowman said. "We've got to go win a bunch more, but man, it feels good to have one this early."
Bowman's future might be uncertain, but he's fine with it after this dominant performance at Fontana. He led 110 laps and managed to stay out front after the final pit stops before cruising to the checkered flag in a smooth, fairly uneventful race featuring only one caution outside of the stage breaks.
"There's never a situation that I feel completely comfortable in," Bowman said. "I feel like if somebody doesn't want you driving their race car, you're not going to be driving it. Hendrick Motorsports is where I want to be. It's where I want to stay for the rest of my career. It's where I've always wanted to be. It is a contract year, but every year of my career has been a contract year."
The 26-year-old Arizonan grew up racing almost weekly in nearby Pomona. He collected the track's oversized surfboard trophy and partied with his team -- but he also thought ahead with trepidation to the "88" tattoo he'll have to get soon because of a pact with Aaron Gillespie, a friend who is the drummer for metalcore band Underoath.
"We made a bet at Daytona," Bowman said with a grimace. "We've been talking about it for the last two weeks. Apparently I have to get a neck tattoo, which I'm not real sure if that's going to happen or not. But yeah, next time we're all together, I guess we're all going to get tattoos."
Defending Fontana champion Kyle Busch was 8.9 seconds behind in second place in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. His older brother Kurt was third, and Bowman teammate Chase Elliott came in fourth.
UP NEXT -- The Cup Series runs next Sunday at Phoenix Raceway in a key stop because the track is also the site of the series' championship race Nov. 8.