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Alex Bowman Hopeful for Darlington Win in Familiar Colors

Alex Bowman

Alex Bowman sports the familiar light gray and dark blue colors of Jimmie Johnson’s 2002-’05 firesuit at Darlington. (Photo: Kevin Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Alex Bowman enters Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway with the consistency prevalent with Jimmie Johnson from 2002 to 2005.

For starters, Bowman, ranked ninth in the championship points standings, has four top fives and six top 10s in the past eight races. Much like Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus in the early years of the No. 48 team, Bowman and Blake Harris, the current crew chief, grind out the best possible finish.

Last Sunday evening at Kansas Speedway, Bowman qualified 18th before placing seventh. Along the way, Bowman also placed seventh in Stage 2, netting 34 points in the AdventHealth 400.

Quiet and composed, Bowman, who qualified 18th for Sunday’s 293-lap race, understands the challenges awaiting him at the abrasive 1.366-mile egg-shaped track.

“Darlington is such a tough place to put an entire day together,” Bowman said in a team press release. “The race is long and you kind of have to run that place in a high-risk space for the entire day.

“It’s hard to do that for that long without mentally making a mistake or kind of overstepping the boundaries and hurting your race car. It’s a tough place for sure, but a challenge that I look forward to tackling this weekend with the Ally Racing team.”

Besides being consistent and smooth in his No. 48 Ally Throwback Chevrolet entry, Bowman throws it back to Johnson in his maiden Cup season in 2002. Despite the changes to the Cup cars in the past 22 years, even with Ally’s logo and the number placement, it is a faithful recreation to Johnson’s original, full-time season colors.

“We’re running a special throwback on our team’s Chevy this weekend,” he said. “It will be cool to run the scheme from Jimmie’s rookie year in 2002. Jimmie has always been a great Ally and is a large piece of the history and success behind the No. 48.”

Johnson and Knaus, two of the most newest members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, established the winning legacy with the No. 48 team. Winning seven championships and 83 races in a span of 16 seasons, Bowman has never lost sight of the significance in driving this legendary ride.

Alex Bowman

From the familiar silver and blue base to the day glow yellow No. 48, Alex Bowman’s Ally Throwback Chevrolet looks sharp at Darlington. (Photo: Kevin Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

“It’s pretty cool,” Bowman shared. “Jimmie’s been a big part of my career and getting to drive the 48 now is really cool. It’s a great looking car, and I’m excited to to drive it, honestly. Ally showed me a reaction video from Jimmie which was pretty cool to see.

“He’s pretty excited about it. I haven’t talked to Chad about it yet, but I think it’s a good looking race car. And it’s cool to get to throwback to a legend.”

When Johnson piloted this distinct paint scheme from 2002 to ’05, Bowman saw those colors from the age of eight to 12. Needless to say, as a young man from Tucson, Arizona, his loyalties were with another Hendrick Motorsports icon.

“I don’t really remember that early, probably,” he admitted. “Quite honestly, I couldn’t stand Jimmie Johnson when I was a kid because I was a Jeff Gordon fan. And Jimmie beat Jeff most of the time there when I was old enough to watch. It drove me nuts because I wanted Jeff to win every week and win all those championships.”

As Bowman worked his way up the racing ladder and reached the Cup ranks by age 20, Johnson was more than just Gordon’s rival — he was a kind, compassionate and a genuine individual to the Arizonan.

“When I got to meet Jimmie and be teammates with him, way before him and I were teammates, when we met in 2014, he’s just, the best person ever,” he said. “Like the best teammate I’ve ever had by far.

“Great guy, great human being. It’s been really cool to get to work together with him and then take over the 48 and to get to throw back to him is really neat.”

Although Bowman is throwing it back to Johnson’s colors from 2002 to ’05, the mild mannered driver intends to keep his current look rather than opt for the Gillette razor like the seven-time Cup champion in his early years.

Alex Bowman

The typically smooth Alex Bowman hopes to bring a Darlington victory home in his No. 48 Ally Throwback Chevrolet ride. (Photo: Kyle Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

“I don’t think I’m gonna get rid of the little bit of a beard that I have, but we have a firesuit, so that’ll look good,” Bowman said. “Yeah, I’m excited about the whole weekend. Obviously, the team guys embrace it a lot.

“I feel like each and every like we’ve done it so many times now, I’m not sure how far all the teams will continue to go, but it is always cool to see what different teams do and how everybody dresses up and approaches. That weekend is pretty neat.”

Even if Bowman threw it back to Johnson in 2020, the Goodyear 400 race weekend always brings a sense of pride and tradition for him as a competitive Cup racer. Particularly with Hendrick Motorsports celebrating its 40th anniversary season, the significance takes on a bigger meaning as Bowman hopes to snap his 73-race winless streak.

“Yeah, it’s always neat. We’ve been all over with it,” Bowman said. “[We’ve] had a lot of different drivers. We’ve actually thrown back to Jimmie before. So it’s always cool to see the reactions and just to drive like iconic paint schemes that I either grew up watching or have kind of learned about in history.

“It’s really neat. So I’m looking forward to it. Kind of seeing the whole grid at at Darlington is always really cool.”

Editor’s Notes

Special thanks to Alex Bowman and Autumn Darracq for their availability on this special feature story ahead of Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina.

Rob Tiongson is a 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 his eyes. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing. Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

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