An Interview with: Alex Bowman
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our race winner Alex Bowman.
We’ll get right into questions for Alex.
Do you find any poetry in Jimmie making his first INDYCAR start in the 48 car and you getting the win here today?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, it’s really cool. There’s so many different things going on right now, I almost didn’t even remember that it’s my first win in the 48, getting a 48 back in Victory Lane.
No, it’s really special for a lot of reasons, just to win for Ally, to get the 48 back in Victory Lane. Obviously really emotional, losing Rowdy and Blakley this off-season. It’s been a lot. Obviously Jimmie making his INDYCAR debut today, really cool. It’s probably over by now. Somebody fill me in on how he did, how eventful it was or wasn’t for him. Really, really cool.
I think he finished 19th. He spun out early, got stalled, then got back going.
ALEX BOWMAN: Nice.
It was emotional for you after the race. Can you tell me a little bit about your relationship with Rowdy, how hard this off-season really was for you and your team.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I mean, our group has a lot of personalities, a lot of awkward people, I guess. Greg and myself are a bit awkward. We have some normal personalities. Rowdy was that big, outgoing personality that really kept the group pumped up in any situation, really held us all together. He was always happy, no matter what the circumstance was.
He meant a ton to our race team. He’s probably the first guy when I filled in in the 88 back in the day to really make me feel super welcome, feel like he had my back. He was just a huge part of our team.
Alex, you have had speed at times this year, but kind of been an up-and-down year in terms of putting together clean races. As the season moved along, did it start to creep into your mind that you didn’t have a win, some guys got wins that you didn’t think were going to do it, desperate, but maybe feeling a little bit that way?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, somewhat. I think Bristol, we were probably good enough to win; broke fourth gear. Martinsville, probably good enough to win; we had some issues there. I feel like we’ve been capable, had race cars capable. Just haven’t put all the parts and pieces together, like you said.
We weren’t in a great place with points, but now we’ve got a win and we don’t have to worry about that. I wouldn’t say we were desperate. I feel like we’ve had such fast race cars that we knew we were capable of doing a good job, getting into the Playoffs. This definitely eases the nerves a little bit.
Can you take me through the restart, what you were thinking, if it went the way you thought it was going to go.
ALEX BOWMAN: Did not go the way I thought it was going to go. We were pretty awful on short runs all day. To be honest with you, a caution came out, I was like, Man, we’re going to struggle to get out of here with a top five. Felt like we had such an amazing long run car, but really struggled on the short runs.
We took off. My strong suit all day was being able to get into the corner really deep. I was able to get in deep, aside Denny. I knew I had the preferred lane, could probably clear him. I kind of figured he would get right back to me and be faster than us.
When we drove away, I was like, Oh, my gosh, what’s happening? We had some really fast laps there. I was super loose the last couple laps. I did my best to get it back away. We just really improved the race car there, had a lot of grip taken off.
Do you know what Greg did to the car?
ALEX BOWMAN: I don’t have a clue. I didn’t see a wedge wrench go in it, so I would say air pressure stuff. Which is typically your go-to for short run versus long run stuff. It sure woke it up, that’s for sure.
You obviously have proven yourself in the Cup Series by winning a couple times. How much does this win mean to you in terms of taking over this ride and working with Ally who have made such a big investment in you and Hendrick Motorsports?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, it means a lot to get Ally a win, get the 48 back where it belongs. It’s been a rough start to the year. Ally has been super committed. J.B. and Andrea and everybody else over there have been amazing to work with. We talk a lot. They are so committed to this program. They do so much for us.
So cool to get them a win. It means the world to me. Just very appreciative for them to have faith in me, to give me this opportunity.
With you and two of your teammates already with wins fairly early in the season, how do you think that will help set you up for the Playoffs?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I mean, I think I was confident about the Playoffs. Obviously this helps. This is a really important racetrack for the Playoffs. Short tracks are really important for the Playoffs. We’ve been really strong at the short tracks lately.
Knowing kind of what we need to put ourselves in position to win these races, when we come back, is super important. The 9 is going to win super soon. It’s really great to see all four teams being so successful at HMS. A great group of guys. I really enjoy working with William, Kyle, and Chase. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s just cool to be a part of it.
Denny said he’d rather be where he is at this point in the season without a win, because he’s smashing everybody, his words, rather than where you are right now with a win because I think he feels like he’s just running well. Would you feel the same way? Would you trade places with him at this point or do you like where you’re at?
ALEX BOWMAN: I mean, I feel like lately we’ve been really, really fast each and everywhere we’ve gone. Atlanta we ran third. Bristol, we’re the best car, break a transmission. Go to Martinsville, the 12 was probably the best car, but we were probably the second-best car. We have our issue there.
Pretty happy with where we’re at right now. We’re going to a lot of places that statistically I’ve struggled at, like Martinsville and here, and running really, really well. I think when we get to the places that I feel like we’re actually good at, it’s going to be really, really good.
What will your approach be moving forward? Now that you have a win, do you go for as many wins as possible or see what happens? What’s your approach?
ALEX BOWMAN: We go to the racetrack every week to win. We’ve gone for every win as long as I’ve been driving these things. There’s never a sit back and relax mode at Hendrick Motorsports. We’re expected to race for wins. All of our partners want us to go out and win. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to win a lot of races this year hopefully. I feel like I have a great group of guys behind me to be able to make that happen.
What would a superspeedway win at Talladega mean to you?
ALEX BOWMAN: That would be pretty special. Not really for any reason aside from the fact that it’s Rowdy’s home track. Winning means a lot to get our car in Victory Lane, we miss him and Blakley a lot. Going to his home track, we’re able to win there, I know that would mean the world to him. We’re going to try our best to make it happen.
I consider you sort of a short track guy or a guy that came from short track beginnings. Why are you surprised to win at a short track?
ALEX BOWMAN: Not necessarily because it’s a short track. Just because it’s Richmond. We’ve had some pretty painful days here in the past. Really, really struggled. Felt like we got a little better last fall. We had a solid top 10 day. Definitely didn’t feel like we were in contention for a win then.
To have one of the best race cars all day, overcome as much as we did, be able to go win on a restart against the guy that’s probably the best in the garage area here, is pretty special.
It’s definitely surprising. We were bad on short runs, then we just won the race on a short run. Surprised for a lot of reasons. But happy to have that surprise.
Do you think it’s the way that you and Greg and everybody have come together? You’ve had plenty of time to get used to each other. Just seemed like with the kind of relationship and how you all have pulled together that things are just starting to happen on the positive again.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think we ended last season super strong. We had one of the best Playoff runs of anybody. We just didn’t have a big group of Playoff points to lean on to make that Round of 4. We started this year a little rough, but had fast race cars.
Greg has a tall task when it comes to here in Martinsville specifically. I kind of drive the racetrack wrong. I can’t figure out how to force myself not to. So he has to make a race car do a lot, do some things that aren’t really normal for this place.
Instead of telling me, Hey, you need to do this different, you need to drive different. He just goes to work on making the race car do what I ask of it. It’s really paying off here lately.
Do you have an update on a new nickname? I know you don’t like ‘Showman’ that much. More importantly, what kind of confidence or what did you learn from this race as a team that helps out when you know you’ve struggled at tracks like Phoenix and Martinsville in the past?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, for sure, I don’t know on a nickname. I think I’m kind of stuck with it unfortunately.
Really confident going to places that maybe I haven’t been good at in the past that Greg has really figured out what I need in the race car, putting a race car under me that’s going to give me what I need to succeed.
Martinsville was a place that I struggled at. We were really fast last week. Obviously really fast today, as well. I think Greg and I are clicking really well. Just really confident in Greg’s ability to give me what I need.
It’s been since 2008 that Hendrick Motorsports has been in Victory Lane at Richmond. Do you remember where you were last time they were in Victory Lane, what you were doing?
ALEX BOWMAN: 2008? Man, I was 15. I was running USAC Focus Midgets. I don’t know where, but probably racing somewhere. It’s really neat. This is a place that as a company we’ve struggled at for a while. To be able to come here and get a win is really cool.
Looking ahead to next week, Talladega. Spring race at Talladega has been your stronger race of the two. Will you sleep a little bit better this week or is there always a little anxiety heading to Talladega?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, nobody sleeps well going to Talladega. There’s a high probability of hitting stuff really hard (laughter).
That’s just part of this race week. Superspeedways, we like to tear some stuff up. I think I made 12 laps at the Daytona 500 this year. Not going to sleep any better since we have a win, but at least we won’t have to hit the panic button because of points.
THE MODERATOR: Alex, thank you for taking some time with us. Congratulations on the win. We will see you next week.
ALEX BOWMAN: Thanks, guys. Have a good one.
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