NASCAR StatWatch: Plenty to celebrate for Alex Bowman

Alex Bowman won Sunday at Chicagoland for his first Cup series victory in his 134th career Cup start. Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the winner's club, Alex Bowman. I'm not in it, but I've met people who are, and they all seem really happy about their decision to join.

It's a select club, only 192 members. A Google search tells me there are 134,000 people in Mensa. That's about 698 times more people in Mensa than have won NASCAR Cup Series races. A Google search was unable to tell me if there's anybody in both clubs.

And because it's Fourth of July weekend and we all have hot dogs to grill, beverages to consume, fireworks to gawk at and America to celebrate, let's get right to my three favorite stats from the Chicago weekend.

Feels like the first time

Bowman's path to be a Cup series winner is a winding and impressive one. His Cup career started with BK Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing. Not pictured in Sunday's race: either of those teams.

After his release from TBR, Bowman became a simulator driver at Hendrick Motorsports. His dedication to that craft gave him the path to take over the No. 88 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. retired. Replacing a legend and fan favorite such as Junior is no easy task, as the person who will inevitably replace me will eventually tell you.

Even though Bowman has had twists and turns in the Cup series, he's still just 26 years old. Sure, he's older at the time of his first win than the past three first-time winners, Chase Elliott (22), Erik Jones (22) and Ryan Blaney (23). But he still has a lot of career ahead of him.

Bowman's first win came in his 134th career Cup start, tied for the 20th most among the 192 Cup winners. Among the other 20 drivers who needed at least 134 starts to pick up their first win, only three (Ricky Rudd, Buddy Baker and Sterling Marlin) ended up with double-digit career wins, and seven have yet to win again (but Paul Menard could eventually get there).

But among those 21 to need 134-plus starts to get their first win, only two were younger than Bowman when they did so, David Ragan and Kyle Petty, who were both 25.

Two other 26-year-olds got their first wins 134-plus races into their careers (Rudd and Baker), and both of them had excellent Cup careers.

A second glance

Kyle Larson has won in the Cup series before and he'll likely win there again, but after his runner-up run at Chicago, he has 21 career second-place finishes, compared to five wins, a differential of negative-16.

Only four drivers have a bigger negative differential between their seconds and firsts, Baker (who's getting a lot of mentions in this column), Mark Martin, Terry Labonte and Harry Gant.

Larson has eight second-place finishes since his last win, which is tied for the most between wins in Cup series history. Five drivers have had eight runner-up runs between wins, the most recent being Kevin Harvick in 2015.

Bluster over Custer

Cole Custer won Saturday's Xfinity Series race at Chicago, his fourth win in the last 11 races. That after winning twice in his first 75 career starts.

And Custer's still half a year away from his 22nd birthday (don't forget to send him a card). His six wins at age 21 or younger is tied with Rob Moroso for the fourth most in series history.

One more and Custer will tie Kyle Busch for the third most, with Joey Logano (12 wins) and Erik Jones (nine) ahead of him.

Custer joined Christopher Bell with four wins this season, with Tyler Reddick and Busch with three apiece, and then Michael Annett has one. That's just five winners in 15 races this season.

Last year at this point, no driver had won more than twice, and 12 different drivers had won races. The five winners in 15 races is the fewest at this point of the season in Xfinity Series history, which dates back to 1982.

Enjoy your holiday weekend, whether you're reading this before or after your parties.