Dropping the Hammer with Alex Bowman

Similarly, Alex Bowman seems to be a popular driver with race fans. (Photo Credit: Daniel Overbey/TPF)

Similarly, Alex Bowman seems to be a popular driver with race fans. (Photo Credit: Daniel Overbey/TPF)

By and large, Alex Bowman’s journey in NASCAR has been filled with successes and struggles.  However, after years of relative obscurity, Bowman’s big break came in 2016 when he filled in for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Certainly, the Tucson, Ariz. native proved his worth in his interim role, earning the seat of the No. 88 Nationwide/Axalta Chevrolet in 2018.  On the strength of three top-fives and 11 top-10 finishes, the young racer finished 16th in the points standings last season.

With this in mind, the 26-year-old fifth-year driver entered 2019 with confidence and determination.  Despite earning a front row spot in the Daytona 500, Bowman’s best finish in the first nine races of the year was 11th (Daytona and Las Vegas).

In the long run, Bowman stepped up his performances, logging three straight runner-ups (Talladega, Dover, and Kansas) along with two top-10 finishes before winning his first Cup race at Chicagoland.  As a result, the Hendrick Motorsports leadfooter jumped from a season-low ranking of 21st to 10th as of press time.

On the whole, Bowman seems to be finding his stride as a consistent, front running premier series talent.  Off the track, he enjoys his time with his canine companions while pondering about a beloved television series that recently wrapped up.  Basically, he’s as mild-mannered and easygoing as can be when it comes to any driver in the NASCAR garage.

Recently, I caught up with Bowman not only to talk about his season, but to shed more insights into this fascinating driver.  Without delay, let’s get to it by “Dropping the Hammer with Alex Bowman!”

Rob Tiongson :  So your season has truly picked up since Talladega. You’ve jumped from 21st in points up to the top-10 in points. What’s been some of the keys to the team’s overall strong performances in recent races?

Correspondingly, Bowman's on-track results have intensified like summertime temperatures. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

Correspondingly, Bowman’s on-track results have intensified like summertime temperatures. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

Alex Bowman :  I wish we could really put our finger on exactly what the key was. Our cars have just been better everywhere we’ve gone. It’s made my job a heck of a lot easier. We really didn’t change one part or piece. It’s just things have been going better for us.

Rob Tiongson :  Absolutely. Now, I understand you guys just revealed your Darlington paint scheme. It’s a little tribute to Tim Richmond. So what’s it mean to represent a very legendary driver, not only for the sport, but for someone who was basically around during the beginnings of Hendrick Motorsports?

Alex Bowman :  Yeah, it’s really neat. That paint scheme’s really cool. If I was a NASCAR fan in that time period, I would have been a Tim Richmond fan. So that’s really why I wanted to do it. And obviously, being a Hendrick Motorsports car, and last time it was there, it won. So it’d be pretty cool to put it back in victory lane.

Rob TiongsonNow, given the drastic change from last year to this year with the cars – downforce and horsepower count – how pleased are you that the No. 88 and Hendrick organization has pretty much been finding speed on a consistent basis?

Alex Bowman :  Yeah, yeah. I think we’ve come a long way from where we started the year and our speed’s gotten way better. So that’s really good. The package is really different. You know, everywhere we go, we don’t really know what to expect until we’ve been there, so it’s just kind of another unknown. I think it’ll be interesting to see what we have this weekend.

Rob Tiongson :  Does it sometimes get a little bit frustrating or a little bit exciting when you go to a track that you’ve basically been at, but with this package, you’re like, “I really don’t know what’s going to happen?”

Conversely, Bowman's quick adaption to the oft-discussed rules package speaks volumes to his talents. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Conversely, Bowman’s quick adaption to the oft-discussed rules package speaks volumes to his talents. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Alex Bowman :  Yeah, everything’s been completely different. I mean, you’re running wide open at places that you’ve never run wide open at before. I mean, to run the tunnel wide open at Pocono, you never really think about being able to do that. So it’s definitely different, and I’m just trying to adapt to it.

Rob Tiongson :  Now, you’ve become quite the popular racer over the years and you’ve got a very unique sense of humor with your social media presence. I like what you said about the All-Star vote, “I’m going to finish runner-up again.” How refreshing is it to share your true self with fans and have fun with what you do as a profession?

Alex Bowman :  Yeah, it’s really cool. I feel like I just try to have fun with it. Social media can be a pretty crappy place at times, so try to just ignore everybody that wants to talk crap and have fun with the people that are cool about it.

Rob Tiongson :  There you go. I like that attitude on that. Now, Game of Thrones recently wrapped up, and I’m getting into it, and of course, I saw the finale.

Alex Bowman :  That was a bummer.

Rob Tiongson :  Oh, so you’re on the Team Bummer camp on this one.

To say the least, Bowman's feelings with Game of Thrones likens to Star Trek fans. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

To say the least, Bowman’s feelings with Game of Thrones likens to Star Trek fans. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

Alex Bowman :  Yeah. I just feel like… I mean, the first two episodes of the last season, nothing happened. And then for the next four episodes, it was like way too much happened way too quick. I don’t know, it just… the whole story of the White Walkers, we have no idea.

They just left it out. Like, “Okay, you’re dead now. We’re never going to talk about you. You’ve been a mystery for 10 years, but we’re not going to tell you.”

And then it just… I mean, the last dragon just flies away, and they’re like, “Whatever. It’s just going to fly away and live happily ever after and not come back and eat everybody.” So I think it’s a bunch of BS, and we want more. I’m on Team We Want More.

Rob Tiongson :  Now, I do want to let you know that there’s been some talks about a prequel and a potential sequel for the series. So does that kind of make up for what happened in the finale?

Alex Bowman :  I hope so. Last I heard, they said prequel and no sequel. So I feel like there needs to be a sequel for sure. Or just keep going. Like, why end it? I get all things need to end, but that wasn’t one of them.

Rob Tiongson :  We’ll talk about that some time down the road, I’m sure. Now, I’m sure it’s been fun to share your racing experiences and Game of Thrones watching experiences with Roscoe and Finn, who you truly love. So you’ve had them on your No. 88 car a few times. How fun is it to share your love for them and share them to your fans, and in general, how do they help you get through a good or bad race?

When it comes to persistence, Bowman possesses such, especially after a trying weekend at Loudon. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

When it comes to persistence, Bowman possesses such, especially after a trying weekend at Loudon. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Alex Bowman :  Yeah, that’s been pretty neat. Obviously, I spend a lot of time with my dogs, and having Nationwide… obviously with their pet insurance stuff, willing to have them on the car was pretty cool. Both times we’ve had them on the car, we’ve had terrible days, so we might just not do that anymore. But it’s really neat to get to share that with people and have a sponsor like Nationwide who’s obviously really cool about that.

Rob Tiongson :  Now, your fellow racers may turn to working out or competing at other racing events to keep focused and sharp during the race season. So what are some of your ways to kind of have that, way to relax from the grind of the year?

Alex Bowman :  Really just working on… I have a really mechanical background, so working on cars, whether it’s a street car, a couple race cars that I run through the winter, stuff like that. I just like to tinker and get my hands dirty.

Rob Tiongson :  We knew that first win’s coming around the corner, and I don’t mean to beat a dead horse when you kept hearing about it, but let me put a little twist with it. Before Chicagoland, did you have a very specific victory celebration in mind in efforts to make it a very memorable one, or something very simple… just kind of like what Ryan Blaney does when he wins?

Arms raised in victory, Chicagoland style. (Photo Credit: Matteo Marcheschi/TPF)

Arms raised in victory, Chicagoland style. (Photo Credit: Matteo Marcheschi/TPF)

Alex Bowman :  I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see. Marshall told me he was going to buy me 88 bottles of Jameson when I win, so.

Rob Tiongson :  Oh my goodness.

Alex Bowman :  I think there’s a high likelihood of some Jameson consumption when I win. That’s what I’m worried about.

Rob Tiongson :  That could make for a very interesting post-race interview, I’m sure, when you get to talk to those scribes in there. Well, those would be after the fact, I’m sure.

Alex Bowman :  Yeah, for sure. When I get home. We’ve got to wait till I get home or Jesse Essex is going to fire me, so.

Rob Tiongson :  Oh, we don’t want that!

Alex Bowman :  We’ll try to avoid that.

Editor’s Notes

Special thanks to Alex and the kind folks at Hendrick Motorsports for this opportunity!  In addition to TPF, you can keep up-to-date with Alex on FacebookTwitter, and on his official website!

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by me or by one of my talented columnists who absolutely have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Proud to be from Massachusetts, just as happy to be a Texan.

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