Alex Bowman became accustomed to success at a young age. He began racing quarter midgets in 2000 when he was seven-years-old, earning nine national championships and 165 feature wins by 2006. He went on to win two Rookie of the Year titles, one in 2011 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East division and the second in 2012 in the ARCA Racing Series. In 2013, Bowman moved up to the NASCAR XFINITY Series where he captured two poles, finishing the season ranked 11th.
However, his early career was not without its difficulties. When he was 16, Bowman was involved in a wreck during a USAC midget race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway dirt track and suffered extensive injuries.
He rattled off his injuries nonchalantly, like items on a shopping list, saying, “In 2010 I broke both my collarbones, broke all my ribs on my right side, punctured and collapsed my lungs. I was in the ICU seven days. It didn’t really slow me down. It’s part of that style of racing, it happens a lot. You just have to be ready to deal with it.”
One of the first questions he asked his doctor was, “When can I race again?”
When asked if the accident left him with any lingering doubts or concerns about racing, Bowman, who also sustained a concussion, said he doesn’t remember the crash and says, “that’s probably a good thing. I don’t think about it at all.”
In 2014 when he was first presented with the opportunity to race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series he told me, “I didn’t necessarily want to go to Cup racing when I did, but it’s what I had to do. I didn’t really have any other opportunities on the table. I’m glad I did, though; I’ve really been enjoying it.
“It was go backward or go forward, I chose to go forward.”
The transition to the Sprint Cup Series has been challenging. His first season in the series was with BK Racing and he finished the year in 35th place. In 2015, Bowman signed with Tommy Baldwin Racing to drive the No. 7 Chevy and is currently 33rd in the points standings. His best finish so far this season was 16th at Talladega Superspeedway.
“My contract was up, Bowman explained. “I felt like it was a better opportunity over here at TBR and a better place for me to be. I’m really happy to be here at TBR.”
Bowman has learned to adopt a different mindset since moving to the Cup Series.
“It was a different style of racing for me,” he explained. “It went from going to the racetrack to win to going to the racetrack, managing expectations and having different goals. That changes a lot in how you race and the things that go along with that.”
The improvements since he’s been with TBR may seem miniscule to those on the outside looking in, but Bowman is confident that the team is moving in the right direction and that he’s with the right people. The Bojangles’ Southern 500 was a perfect example of their determination.
The weekend began with a disappointing qualifying session relegating Bowman to a 35th starting position and the race was challenging as well. But Bowman recovered from being a lap down, twice, to bring home a 24th place finish.
His chemistry with the team is evident when Bowman talks about his working relationship with his crew chief, Tommy Baldwin.
“Everything’s been good working with Tommy. He’s a little excitable on the radio sometimes. But he’s just an old-school racer; he’s a lot of fun. I calm him down (on the radio) more than he calms me down,” Bowman said laughing.
And the feeling is mutual for team owner Tommy Baldwin; he picked up the option on Bowman’s contract for 2016.
“We’ve got some great things happening right now and the most important part of all our plans was signing Alex as early as possible,” Baldwin said in a June 30 press release. “Now we can continue to focus on the rest of the parts and pieces needed to continue our forward progress.”
The 22-year-old Bowman also displays a maturity beyond his years.
“I’ve listened to a lot of drivers throw a lot of fits on the radio and I don’t think it does them any good. I get as mad as anybody, but I feel like throwing a fit and making yourself look like an idiot just doesn’t do you any good. He’s my crew chief, but he’s also my boss so I try to be calm about it.
While Bowman pursues his Cup career, he has also competed in other series and worked with other teams including JR Motorsports. In 2014, he raced in two XFINITY Series events at Charlotte and Phoenix. The opportunity came after a chance meeting.
“We (Bowman and Dale Earnhardt Jr.) were riding around at driver intros before Richmond and just got to talking and we were able to put something together. It was a lot of fun. I’m really thankful for Dale and everybody at JR Motorsports.
“We ran really well at Phoenix. I really feel like we had a shot to win that race but ran out of fuel came up a lap and a half short, but that’s part of it.”
This season, Bowman ran a Camping World Truck Series race for JR Motorsports at Michigan, finishing 11th and would consider more rides outside the Cup Series.
“I’m open to racing anything. I want to win races in whatever I can. I want to win championships in whatever I can, if that’s a truck or Xfinity car, I’ll drive whatever. But obviously right now I have this Cup deal and I’m really focused on that.
“We’re taking it one race at a time. We’re really just trying to have good runs and improve. We’re a small team, a single-car organization; we just got to keep getting better and build on what we have.”
As the season winds down, Bowman and Tommy Baldwin Racing have one goal; to make their team the best it can be. Race by race, they are moving forward, together.