An interview with: ALEX BOWMAN
THE MODERATOR: Alex Bowman, our runner up for today’s Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway. Go ahead and tell us about your run out there, what it was like to be back behind the wheel of a real racecar.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, it was great to be back. Obviously a little different, but felt really good to get back in the car.
We were really strong on short runs right off the bat. Just got tight as the runs went on. Freed it up quite a bit during the first two thirds of the race. Got the car pretty good, then I kind of leaned on the wall a little bit and hurt us there at the end.
Just a little bit off. I felt like I didn’t do a great job of knowing what I needed to be able to beat the 4 there on long runs at the end. I feel like if I could have gotten in front of him on the short run, I could have held him off with clean air. But I didn’t really know. I could get the car free right on the wall or get it tight by turning down off the wall a little bit. I didn’t really know which direction to go on the last change.
I have to do a better job there. But really happy with everybody at Hendrick Motorsports, ChevyGoods.com and NOCO, to come off a mini off season, have four cars that were strong, have a good day like that, it means a lot. Can’t wait to get back here on Wednesday.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll start with questions for Alex.
Q. Anything you could have done on the restart short of wrecking Harvick to take the lead?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I don’t know. Not be on the inside is really the only thing. I feel like watching it back, I could have been really aggressive and cut the corner into one a little bit and maybe cleared him. I was already pretty aggressive with that. Maybe I could have acted like I was going to clear myself and got him to lift. If he doesn’t lift, we both crash. In three and four I got loose under him. He did a good job of getting on my door, taking some side force away.
That’s tough. You’re racing one of the best in the business at one of the most technical, hard racetracks we go to. Just to have the opportunity to race him hard and clean like that was a lot of fun.
Q. Any added confidence going into today having signed your new contract this past week?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, for sure. Obviously not having to talk about 2021 any more, just focus on the task at hand, going and contending for a championship is really good.
Got to thank Mr. Hendrick and everybody at HMS. Obviously my career has changed significantly since coming over to HMS. They gave me a big break. I’m very appreciative for that. Really enjoying it. Glad to have that squared away. Ready to go try to win some more races.
Q. What can you take away from this race on the racetrack that you can apply on Wednesday? Could you even bring the same car if you wanted to because you ran so well?
ALEX BOWMAN: I don’t know if you could bring the same car or not. I did get the wall a little bit, so they’d have to probably put at least a new right rear quarter panel on it. That gets pretty tricky on trying to turn stuff around. I don’t think we’ll bring the same car. Fairly certain we’ll bring a different car.
Everybody at HMS does a really good job of getting all our cars extremely close. I think we can take what we ran, have a pretty good idea of some adjustments we couldn’t do on pit road but I felt like would really help what I needed in the racecar there to be a little better on long runs and help me in some areas.
I’m really looking forward to it. I think we have a good game plan for it. Obviously our cars are really strong right now.
Q. What is it like for you at some of these tracks where you’re out front for the first time in your career, have these fast racecars at a track like Darlington? Are you learning new things about yourself, what you’re able to do? Is it surprising?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, definitely. I’ve definitely found myself in some situations that I haven’t been in over the last couple years as our racecars have gotten stronger. I feel like I’m learning a lot.
It was really interesting trying to prepare for this race. I spent the day yesterday at my shop. I felt like I was doing something wrong all day, there was something that I needed to be doing different to prepare more. If I didn’t go to my shop, I was just going to sit at my home all day and do nothing. I hung out and cleaned my shop by myself all day.
It’s just been really interesting to be in different situations and learn from them as well as learn what I can do off the racetrack to better prepare myself. I feel like I’m in a pretty good spot with the off the racetrack stuff. It’s definitely been a big improvement here lately. Very appreciative of that, all the help that Josh Wise has been on that.
On track stuff, I feel like I’m learning every time out. There are some restarts I wish I would have gotten better, things I’d do a little differently. But I didn’t make any big mistakes today. Definitely things I could improve on, but it was a good, solid day.
Q. Josh Wise, you talked about your fast last week. Is that mental or a physical thing? Mental strength or physical strength?
ALEX BOWMAN: I think it’s definitely about both. Josh does a really good job of doing mental things without telling us that we’re doing mental things with all the drivers he works with. It’s been pretty interesting to catch onto some of the things he’s doing sometimes. It also kind of resets or body in the way that it burns food.
It was interesting to do. That’s the second time I’ve done one. We did one going into California. We won there. Maybe I run well if I don’t eat on Monday and Tuesday of race week. But, no, I think it’s been good.
He has single handedly improved my life on and off the racetrack quite a bit. Definitely appreciative for his help.
Q. It blows me away how much you guys normally are so connected with your PR people, the managers, people that get you from place to place. Even though this is a one day show, I saw talk before the race about drivers having to do some things by themselves. How did you coordinate before the race, also getting this Zoom conference set up in your motorhome?
ALEX BOWMAN: It’s pretty interesting. I ran Cup for a couple years really without a full time PR person. We kind of split somebody at BK, then at Tommy I just did my own thing.
It’s definitely interesting coming down here. The whole thing was way different than normal. But I feel like everybody at HMS did a really good job kind of making it easy on me at least. Kind of just got texts, had calendar things set up for when I needed to do whatever. It was pretty easy to do.
Appreciative for the hard work that goes into that because I’m sure it wasn’t easy for everybody else to figure it out and to set it up and tell me what I needed to do. Really all I had to do was look at my phone and know what to do.
Getting here four hours before the green flag, sitting in my bus all day, doing nothing, was really, really weird. Not being at the racetrack yesterday was really, really weird. As far as everything that Kelsey and everybody from HMS had me do, it was all pretty self explanatory and easy.
Q. I think there was some question as to could the Hendrick drivers pick up where you left off. Now with this long layoff, did everybody catch up, be as strong? Seemed like you guys still had the speed there today. Is your level of confidence soaring right now? You have to feel pretty good, I’m assuming, right now.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I felt great the way we started the season. Unloading in Las Vegas, I think we saw our racecars were going to be really strong. To continue that after we got shut down and firing everything back up, to continue the strength that we had means a lot.
I think it was an interesting time period, right? Guys couldn’t really be in their shops developing new stuff. You weren’t allowed to be in the wind tunnel, simulators, all that stuff. Everybody is still at home working on their notebooks, trying to piece together what they can do to make their racecars better.
In a sense it didn’t really give people maybe the complete opportunity to catch up, but it at least gave them some opportunity. I think for everybody at HMS to stay on top of things, improve our racecars, I think we didn’t just come back with what we had in Vegas and Fontana, I think we came back with something better. We need to keep working on it because everybody around us is constantly getting better, as well.
Q. What kind of a statement do you feel today was for Hendrick as a whole? With Wednesday coming right on the heels of today, do you feel like the teams that showed well today will likely show well again Wednesday night?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, yeah, I think definitely the teams that were good today are going to be good on Wednesday night. The track is going to be a little different, probably a little more rubbered up. Hopefully the rain stays away. It’s definitely going to be different. The invert and everything is going to be quite a bit different.
I think the guys that were good are going to be good again. The invert might help some guys in clean air that we didn’t see this week.
Q. It seemed like today was a statement for all you guys at Hendrick.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, absolutely. I feel like all the intermediates this season have been a big statement for us. The 9 was probably the best car in Vegas. We had a great car in Fontana. Then to come here and have four really fast cars, it’s awesome.
It’s really different than how we started the season the last two years. I feel like our cars, the biggest thing, when we’re off a little bit, we’re not running 20th any more. If we have a bad run, we fall back to eighth.
I think that shows a lot about the strength of HMS right now. We’re just going to keep gaining on it.
THE MODERATOR: Alex, congratulations on the run today. Good to see you back on the racetrack. Good luck on Wednesday night.
ALEX BOWMAN: Thanks, guys. Good to see you. Have a good one.