Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 23 Dr. Pepper Toyota for BK Racing, may be competing for Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but he describes himself as “just a normal 21 year old who gets to turn laps for a living.”
Bowman, who hails from Tucson, Arizona, started his lap turning career on short tracks in his home state, graduating at the age of seven to driving quarter midgets. The young racer than progressed to USAC and at age 17, moved to stock car racing, first in the Pro Cup Series in 2010 and then in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2011, where he won the Rookie of the Year honors.
Bowman moved to the ARCA Racing Series for two years and then made his Nationwide Series debut at Chicagoland Speedway where he finished 17th. He ran full-time in Nationwide in 2013 and got the call to move up to NASCAR’s elite series for the 2014 season.
“As far as getting this deal, I got a phone call from Rick Carpenter that he wanted to talk and sat down with him and Mike and Ron Devine and I worked on it for a couple months,” Bowman said. “And we were able to put it together and go from there.”
While Bowman is enjoying competing at the highest level of the sport, he is also enjoying being a part of one of the biggest rookie crops to grace the Cup Series.
“It’s great as far as being in one of the largest classes of rookies,” Bowman said “You’ve seen some rookie classes ride around all year in the past but there is none of that this year.”
“You’ve seen the class this year put on a heck of a show so far,” Bowman continued. “So I feel good about being a part of such a big class.”
Bowman’s crew chief Dave Winston is also a rookie, and yes the pair have indeed made their share of rookie mistakes, from issues over the radio to issues on pit road.
“My crew chief Dave, it’s his first year being a crew chief,” Bowman said. “So, we’ve both made our share of mistakes and we are both learning.”
“It’s really funny when he tries to talk on the radio and he has never really talked on the radio before,” Bowman continued. “So, it’s these little short bursts of words that scramble together.”
“I think we’re working together really well,” Bowman said. “He’s definitely a good crew chief and he has a really positive attitude, which goes throughout the whole team. It’s a big difference versus what I had last year. I’m really happy with how the guys gets along and how everybody works together.”
“My biggest rookie mistake is that I’ve spun on pit road a couple of times,” Bowman admitted. “On pit road at Daytona and Kansas as well I spun. So, I need to work on that a little bit. So, that’s our biggest thing.”
While Bowman has yet to spin at Dover, he admitted that he has yet to really master the Monster Mile.
“It’s gone alright so far here at Dover,” Bowman said. “We unloaded okay but as practice went on, we made some changes and got going in the right direction. We weren’t too bad in the first practice but we will see how practices go and how we will be during the race.”
Bowman has the utmost respect for Dover as he turns laps around the Monster Mile. But he cannot quite say that it is one of his favorite tracks just yet.
“It’s one of the toughest places we go,” Bowman said. “It’s real physical. It’s a lot of fun but at the same time when you have a bad race car it’s a really long day.”
“I like it more than a lot of places but at the same time, if you have a bad race car you’re probably going to hate it.”
“If we get out of here with a top-30, that would be good,” Bowman said. “I’d be pretty happy with that.”
While Bowman dreams, as do most rookie drivers, of winning races and competing for future championships, he has one unique hobby that sets him apart from his fellow Cup competitors.
“I guess I’m not really a typical race car driver in that I don’t hang out with anybody in the sport or anything like that,” Bowman said. “Most of my friends have no clue about racing. I hang out with a lot of car people but not a lot of race car people.”
“All my cars most of the garage would look at and be like, that’s stupid,” Bowman continued. “I’m into like the low cars. Everything I own is really low or really fast.”
“It’s fun and is something that I’ve always been interested in,” Bowman said. That’s what all my friends do too.”
“Other than that though I’m pretty much a normal 21 year old kid that gets to turn laps for a living.”
Bowman will race with his other BK Racing teammates Ryan Truex and Cole Whitt. He will start in the 23rd position for the 45th annual FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks on Sunday, June 1st.