MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS CLASH
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
FEBRUARY 10, 2018
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 NATIONWIDE CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed driving the No. 88 in 2018, what he has learned from Dale Earnhardt, Jr. about superspeedway racing and many other topics. Full Transcript:
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES. LAST YEAR YOU CAME IN AND RAN THE CLASH AND REALLY HAD NOTHING LINED UP PAST THAT. THIS YEAR, YOU ARE IN THE DAYTONA 500, FULL SEASON AHEAD IN THE NO. 88 CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BACK AT DAYTONA WITH THAT IN MIND?
“Yeah, it’s been really surreal for probably the past seven or eight months. Now to unload and to kind of be ready and be like ‘man I’m driving a race car today’ is really special. It’s a dream come true for me. Very thankful for the opportunity and really just looking forward to getting on the race track, seeing how our race car drives, seeing how our speed is and kind of seeing how the cars drive with the new rules package and going from there.”
HAS IT SUNK IN ANYMORE THAT YOU ARE DRIVING THE NO. 88 IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS?
“I would say probably the last couple of days more than anything. Unloading yesterday and doing the weigh-in and kind of just going through all the motions to get going kind of made me realize like ‘okay it’s time to go racing now and actually do your job’. It’s just been… it was surreal for so long because it was an opportunity that I never thought I was going to be able to get. To kind of have it all come to life here and to get going is really special.”
YOU’VE DONE SO MUCH SIMULATION WORK, HOW DO YOU THINK THE RIDE HEIGHT RULE IS GOING TO AFFECT THE FEEL OF THE CARS?
“Yeah, you know what’s funny is the only place we don’t run in the simulator is superspeedways. I did the test here, I don’t know it was May of last year or something, and I thought it made the cars drive worse. I was looser on entry, but it was kind of split. Obviously, not everybody tackled it the same way and not everybody had the same set-up in their cars. I think there was only six or seven cars here. Some of the guys thought their cars drove better and the other half of everybody thought their cars drove worse. We will just kind of have to see. I think cars, just walking around the garage, are more aggressive coming back here than they were in that test by far. And at the test we also had like an underbody panel that I don’t think we have here. It is just kind of a little different than the test was. I’m not really sure what to expect. I think everybody is going to be a little looser on entry and exit when the spoiler is not up in the air, but we will just have to wait and see. I think there is definitely going to be guys that can go faster, but their cars are going to drive worse and guys that can be aggressive, but their cars are going to be slower. It will be interesting to see how everybody compromises that.”
THE PREVIOUS DRIVER OF THE NO. 88 WAS KNOWN FOR HIS PROWESS ON RESTRICTOR PLATE TRACKS. WHAT IS YOUR GENERAL APPROACH TO THESE RACES? WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH GOING TO BE COME NEXT SUNDAY?
“I think, obviously, superspeedway racing comes with a lot of experience. You’ve got to kind of get experience to figure out what works. I’ve run a handful of superspeedway races in a Cup car, but not a ton. What I’ve kind of been doing is just leaning on Jimmie (Johnson) and Jeff (Gordon) and Dale (Earnhardt, Jr.) as much as I can. I spent a lot of time talking to Dale last night about when to use runs and when to be aggressive and stuff like that. Hopefully, I can learn as much as I can from them. I wouldn’t say superspeedway racing is my favorite. I like races that you can control your own destiny and superspeedway racing you definitely can’t do that. I am going to try to make the most of it, try to keep the Nationwide No. 88 up front, but it’s going to be a learning experience. Obviously, I’ve been out of the car for a while, so just going to do the best I can and see where we end up.”
WHAT IS YOUR OFFICIAL STANCE ON THIS “BOWMAN THE SHOWMAN” NICKNAME? YOU DON’T LIKE IT IS THAT CORRECT?
“I think at this point I’ve just got to own it, right? I don’t see it changing anytime soon. I’m not the biggest fan of it, but kind of is what it is at this point.”
ARE WE GOING TO SEE IT ON A T-SHIRT?
“Oh man, I don’t know. I’m not in charge of the t-shirt department. If they put that on a t-shirt, you won’t see me wearing it, I can tell you that much.”
HAVE YOU BEEN TALKING TO DALE EARNHARDT, JR. MORE AS THE SEASON HAS BEEN GETTING CLOSER? WHAT HAS BEEN HIS BIGGEST MESSAGE TO YOU SO FAR?
“I think his biggest message is just to have fun with everything. I definitely previously, 2013, 2014, 2015, I probably stressed myself out too much with things. Not enjoyed being a race car driver like I should have. He has seen that and wants me to have as much fun as I can with this opportunity. I’m the first person that tells you that I’m not too stressed out. I’m not taking anything too hard, I just want to go have fun and enjoy this because it’s a dream come true for me. Definitely talked about having fun with stuff and at the same time he gave me some drafting tips and superspeedway racing tips that I’m going to try to keep to myself. He has been great to lean on and always has been for me, so very thankful to have his help.”
WAS THERE A LIGHTBULB MOMENT TALKING TO DALE EARNHARDT, JR ABOUT STRATEGY? THE NO. 88 CAR IS KNOWN TO BE REALLY GOOD ON PLATE TRACKS MOST OF THE TIME, IT’S A STEP UP FROM WHAT YOU HAVE DRIVEN IN THE PAST. WHAT MORE DOES THAT ALLOW YOU TO DO AS A DRIVER?
“I think there wasn’t really one big thing that Dale said that stuck or anything. I think it’s just a combination of a bunch of little things that I can use and keep in my back pocket to help me. And just kind of how he approaches this whole week, not just the race. Obviously, this week has changed quite a bit since he was here last year and in the past with practice being different, the duels being impounded, stuff like that. That definitely has changed from how he would approach the week and kind of what I have to do now. As far as the No. 88 car and the Hendrick Motorsports cars being really good on superspeedways, I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t wait to get on the race track with how fast our Camaro ZL1’s are going to be. And having three great teammates to work with. I ran the No. 88 at Talladega in 2016. I think we were running second or third and crashed with a couple of laps to go. Definitely, seen how fast the cars are. We’ve just not to crash with a couple of laps to go this time.”
WHAT WAS IT LIKE RUNNING UP FRONT WITH THAT TYPE OF GROUP?
“It is kind of interesting, the mid-pack to back of the pack guys if they get behind a good car it doesn’t really matter who is driving it they are going to push you. They are not going to hang you out. Whereas you get to the front and it’s cutthroat anybody will hang you out, nobody wants to really push you if they don’t have to. It’s definitely interesting to see how they characteristics of the pack change through the pack and just the characteristics of getting pushed by Kyle Busch or Denny Hamlin versus a mid-pack guy who is going to stick with you. Definitely interesting to see and interesting to learn. I think I can definitely take learning experiences from that race and also from The Clash and use them to be more successful next Sunday.”
YOU WERE HERE YESTERDAY KIND OF STUDYING EVERYTHING AND WORKING WITH GREG IVES (CREW CHIEF) TALK ABOUT THAT:
“I was just curious of how the new inspection process was going to go. I’m pretty mechanically inclined, so I guess it just sparked some curiosity there of to how the scan was going to go and how the Hawkeye deal was going to go. To be honest with you, I was sitting in my bus for a while, went to the grocery store, I got some stuff, came back and then I got really board. I was like I’m just going to walk over there and hang out. It’s cool to see our team working together. We’ve got a lot of new people and they are really meshing well and working really hard. Just had some fun hanging out with the NO. 88 guys in a capacity that I won’t get to do today or on normal days.”
TALK ABOUT WORKING WITH GREG IVES:
“Greg has been great to work with. He is still ‘the Riddler’. Sometimes he puts out sentences that you are like ‘what?’. But he is so smart. He is just great to work with and is always looking out for any little advantage he can get and that is why he kind of talks the way he talks sometimes and says the things he says sometimes just trying to take advantage of anything he can. Really looking forward to working with him. He is a great guy and a great friend.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY SENSE YET THAT JR NATION AS A GROUP IS NOW YOUR GANG?
“Not really, I’m very appreciative of the JR Nation fans that have stuck around, but at the same time there are fans that are going to go other places too. Hopefully, we will give them something to cheer for on Sunday’s and get as many people cheering for the No. 88 car as we can.”
THERE ARE FIVE DRIVERS ENTERED IN THE DAYTONA 500 THAT WERE PART OF THE 2011 NASCAR NEXT CLASS, THE VERY FIRST NASCAR NEXT CLASS, YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE DRIVERS. HOW DOES THAT PROGRAM HELP NOT ONLY YOU, BUT OTHER YOUNG DRIVERS COME UP TO REALLY PUT THEM IN POSITION TO SUCCEED ONCE THEY REACH THIS LEVEL?
“It was really cool. For me, being part of the first one, I think it is vastly different then than it is now. I think it’s definitely grown and become a much bigger stepping stone and definitely helps drivers much more. It’s really cool to see what it has become. It’s cool to kind of have been part of the first one. They didn’t like it when I went ARCA racing (laughs), so it was definitely… I mean the media experience it gave you, I think that was really what it was centered around when I was there. We did some photoshoot stuff and kind of used it to help promote us. To see what it has become is really special and how it is helping younger guys and girls and on a broader scale, it’s really cool.”
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