CONCORD, N.C. — After nearly being out of a race car for the better part of an entire season, Alex Bowman got his chance to get back behind the wheel this weekend, joining Chip Ganassi Racing for the Drive For the Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The Arizona native made quite a stir last season during his time substituting for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr., scoring the pole and dominating at his home track of Phoenix Int’l Raceway, but Bowman has sat on the sidelines for much of this year — with his only seat time coming during The Clash at Daytona and a Camping World Truck Series race at Atlanta in February.
However, ahead of taking the reins of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet full-time for 2018, Bowman is returning to the NASCAR XFINITY Series this weekend in the No. 42 Chevrolet, which has been driven for most of the season by Kyle Larson and Tyler Reddick.
The young driver expressed that he is very thankful for the opportunity to finally be back in a racing situation this weekend.
“It feels great and I am so thankful to be here.” Bowman said. “I have to thank Hendrickcars.com, Mr. H and Chip (Ganassi) for making this happen. It means a lot to get the opportunity to drive a great race car. I think we unloaded really fast, we missed it a little bit and we were a little tight in the second practice session. As the pace slows down in the race, it might come to us a little bit.”
“I think we are solid, but we’ll have to wait and see just how this plays out. It’s always great to have Hendrick horsepower under the hood, though … I’m super excited.”
Bowman knew what his plan was coming into the season and just stuck to his playbook, as he patiently awaited for his opportunity to race.
“Obviously I knew coming into this season … I knew what my plan was and what I kind of hoped would happen,” he explained in regards to the hope of succeeding Earnhardt at Hendrick Motorsports. “As far as not being in the seat, I think I stayed pretty active in the simulator and on the second lap on the race track (Friday), we were on top of the board, so it was a smooth transition back into the seat.”
“I think the reps and racing are a completely different deal, but I had some traffic out there in practice and I felt like we were just fine. We’ll have to wait and see what happens … but it’s just great to be back in a car, like I said.”
Also of note, Bowman and his soon-to-be Hendrick teammates unveiled their paint schemes for the upcoming Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Thursday.
Bowman’s blue and white scheme, complete with black numbers, was inspired by Tim Richmond and one that the driver helped to design himself.
“(The unveil) was amazing … that whole show was really cool and was awesome to be a part of,” he smiled. “It’s been a dream come true to get to drive for Hendrick Motorsports and to pull that cover off, and see my name on it means the world to me.”
“For the paint scheme, (a Hendrick designer) did most of it and from my end I gave him a baseline of what I thought would be cool … based on the colors of what worked for myself and Nationwide. From there, he sent over a couple of options and we started tweaking at it.”
“I think the car looks great; it’s always awesome to have Nationwide on-board as well as Axalta and all of our partners at HMS. I’m telling you what, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Bowman will roll off from the fourth starting position when the Drive for the Cure 300 gets underway.
About the Writer
Rence Brown is Race Chaser Online’s West Coast-based correspondent, who currently resides in California and carries a deep passion for NASCAR, but follows other forms of motorsports as well.
From IndyCar and Supercars to Formula 1 and the NHRA, he loves it all. The smell of gasoline and burnt rubber fuels his passion for motorsports and he would have it no other way.
He will say how he feels and will call it like he sees it; unafraid of criticism.
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