MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
COKE ZERO SUGAR 400
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
JULY 4, 2019
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 VALVOLINE PATRIOTIC CAMARO ZL1 met with media to discuss coming off of his first-career Cup series win, reflecting on the momentum to carry into the Playoffs, what to expect at Daytona this weekend, and more. Full Transcript:
YOU HAVE A NEW CAR IN YOUR DRIVEWAY, TALK ABOUT THAT. ALSO, THOUGHTS ON IT BEING THE LAST FOURTH OF JULY RACE HERE IN DAYTONA.
“On the new car, I got to drive a Camaro ZL1 at the Milford Proving Grounds last year. I’ve always been a Corvette guy, so I almost didn’t want to like it and I fell in love with it. I’ve been thinking about getting one and then I drove one at Spring Mountain a couple of weeks ago too. I said ‘If I win a race, I’m going to get one”. Yesterday, I had a little road-trip to Wilmington to get one and bring it back. That was a lot of fun. Thanks Mr. H for letting me take the helicopter to Wilmington to buy a car; that was pretty neat. It was definitely faster there than the 3 ½ hour drive back, but it was a lot of fun. I got to buy it from Jeff Gordon Chevrolet, so that was neat as well.”
“I don’t know, I guess it’s pretty interesting. I hadn’t really thought about it too much, but I feel like this place always puts on a show for the Fourth of July. Happy Fourth to everybody. I guess I’ll have put some thought into that one.”
TALK A LITTLE ABOUT HOW YOUR WEEK HAS BEEN SINCE THE WIN. DOES IT FEEL AS GOOD AS YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD?
“It’s probably been a little different than I thought it would be. It was just a really short week and a lot of obligations that come along with it. But it’s been a lot of fun. It was fun to get home Sunday night and share it with my friends. The whole race team stopped by on their way home from the airport, so that was really cool. It’s just been a lot of fun. I feel like it’s a big relief and now I just want to go win a bunch more. You always have that question in the back of your head: “What if I never win a Cup race?” You start thinking about all the drivers that have driven for Hendrick Motorsports that haven’t won a Cup race in their career. I don’t know if anyone has ever done that, but it feels really good to have that off my back. Now we can focus on just winning more.”
DID YOU HEAR FROM ANYONE THAT YOU DIDN’T EXPECT TO?
“Obviously, the messages on Twitter from a lot of really cool people. That was really neat. Nobody really surprising. I went through 400 text messages and tried to respond to everybody, so that took a lot of time. It was just really neat to see everybody’s support and I’m super appreciative of that.”
GIVEN YOUR SUCCESS AT CHICAGOLAND, DO YOU ANTICIPATE SIMILAR SUCCESS AT OTHER INTERMEDIATE TRACKS? WHEN WE GOT TO KENTUCKY NEXT WEEK, DO YOU EXPECT TO BE IN THE MIX AS WELL?
“Yeah, I think our intermediate program has been really strong for the last couple of months. Kansas we were really good, so Chicago was one we kind of circled. Kentucky is so different and it’s a fresh repave, so I think we will be really strong there. I don’t know if we circled it as much as we did at a place like Chicago or Kansas, but I’m looking forward to it. I think we can win each and every week. I think we can win this week. Any week we go to a race track right now, I feel like our cars are really capable of winning.”
“Yeah, but I felt like that before that too. We went to a lot of different styles of race tracks and ran really well. Michigan and Pocono should have been top-five finishes. We had a bad last restart at Michigan and a part failure at Pocono. We’ve been fast everywhere I feel like and we just need to keep capitalizing on it. I need to go win a bunch more races at this rate if they are going to keep making me buy cars all the time (laughs).”
IN THE MEDIA CENTER LAST WEEK, YOU SAID THAT YOUR CAREER HADN’T BEEN WHAT YOU HAD HOPED IT HAD BEEN AS A KID. WHAT DID 10-YEAR-OLD ALEX BOWMAN THINK WOULD BE THE CAREER RIGHT NOW FOR 26-YEAR-OLD ALEX BOWMAN?
“10-year-old me would have thought it would be super easy the whole way and I was going to win all the time. There wouldn’t be any struggles and there wouldn’t be any low points. I think looking back at it all, I’ll take my way over that just because I feel like I appreciate it a lot more. I had to work a lot harder to get to this point and those low points and struggles make it all worth it so much more. 10-year-old me would have thought it would be easy and I would break every record there is and I’m better than everybody. But reality kind of sets in a little bit shortly after that.”
WAS THE CUP SERIES WHERE YOU WANTED TO BE?
“Yeah, for sure. As a kid, I thought Formula 1 was super cool all the time. Then, I went road racing once and realized that it probably wasn’t my end goal there. I would say Cup was the end goal, but making a living driving a racecar was kind of always my goal as a kid. I always like sprint car and midget racing as well, so I kind of would have taken anything. Anything I was driving I always thought winning would be super easy.”
YOU HAD ALSO SAID LAST WEEK THAT BY WINNING A CUP RACE, YOU KIND OF FEEL LIKE YOU BELONG. HAD THAT BEEN STICKING WITH YOU MAYBE MORE THAN YOU LED ON OVER THE YEARS?
“I don’t think it bothered me that much, it was just a lot of motivation. Just having people say all the time that you can’t do it and you haven’t done it was a good way to motivate me. I think it’s really easy to say that you aren’t supposed to read those articles or you aren’t supposed to think about it or let it bother you, but I’m probably not as good as that as I should be. I see that stuff all the time and just use it as motivation.
YOU HAD SAID THAT DURING THE STRING OF SECOND-PLACE FINISHES, THE BIGGEST THING FOR THE TEAM WAS TO STAY CONSISTENT AND NOT GO BACK TO RUNNING OUTSIDE THE TOP-TEN. EVEN BEFORE YOU GOT THE WIN, DID YOU FEEL LIKE THE TEAM HAS BEEN CONSISTENT ENOUGH?
“Yeah, for sure. You look at Talladega on for us, we’ve been really strong everywhere. Charlotte, I knocked the wall down and still finished seventh. Pocono, we lost fourth gear and still finished 15th. Sonoma, we lost power-steering and still finished in the top-15. So, those were really our worst weeks. Other than that, we’ve been really solid everywhere. It’s been a lot of fun to just be able to be a little more consistent than we’ve been and have really fast racecars each and every week. To go to Sonoma and have speed throughout practice and drive it off the track twice in qualifying and still make the final round, to me that’s crazy. I’ve always struggled making speed at road courses, so our cars are just so fast right now and it’s a blast to be driving them.”
AS YOU MAY INSPIRE OTHER DRIVERS, WHO INSPIRED YOU IN THOSE TOUGH TIMES?
“It was really cool to see the message from Landon (Cassill). Him and I raced each other a lot in the back half of the garage over the years. He’s obviously super good and does a lot with a little. You look at guys like Ross Chastain that have kind of had a similar career path. I feel like the back half of the garage doesn’t get the credit they deserve sometimes. Those cars are pretty difficult to drive sometimes, way more difficult than mine are now. To come from that to a ride at Hendrick Motorsports has been really cool. The most recent person I think of that has had a similar career path would be a guy like Brad Keselowski. I don’t know that through the struggles I really looked up to another driver. I kind of fell into some situations that helped pull me out of the super low points. I don’t really know how they happened or Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) said ‘Hey, we should all Alex Bowman to drive the car’. I don’t know why some of those things happened, but up until then, there were some really low points and I would just keep digging and keep making a living driving a race car. I don’t really have a Plan B to fall back on, so I didn’t really have a choice.”
WITH THE PLAYOFFS ON THE HORIZON, HOW FAR DO YOU THINK THE 88 TEAM CAN GO? DO YOU THINK YOU CAN GET TO HOMESTEAD?
“I think it’s very possible. I think each and every week, we show up and we can win. We have great partners making that possible, with Axalta, Nationwide, Valvoline this week, LLumar. We want to get them as far into the Playoffs that we can and try to go to Homestead. There are a lot of tracks that are good for us right now and I feel like we can get there.”
MOST OF THE TIME WHEN ONE DRIVER PASSES ANOTHER LATE IN THE RACE, LIKE KYLE LARSON DID TO YOU, PEOPLE KNOW HOW THAT IS GOING TO COME OUT. WHAT TOLD YOU SITTING IN THE SEAT OF THE CAR THAT TOLD YOU THAT YOU COULD GET BACK BY HIM AND WIN THE RACE?
“I just didn’t want to run second anymore, so I was going to crash the thing or win. It was as simple as that. I got a little more aggressive with how I was running during the lap that I was behind him and I was able to create a big run off of turn 4. He left both of my options open into turn 1 and I decided to go to the bottom. I was just able to get to him and drag him back down the straightaway. The top is so far along in 3 and 4 that when you have someone underneath you, there’s not really anything you can do to defend that. I was surprised as everybody else that we made that happen, but I’m glad it all worked out. I’ve still had to think about how it happened like that and I can’t figure it out. But I’ll take it.”
I’VE BEEN INTERIVEWING PEOPLE IN VICTORY LANE FOR OVER 20 YEARS AND I DON’T EVER REMEMBER A CREW CHIEF EVER SAYING TO ME ‘THIS IS SO AND SO’S TEAM’. WHILE I’M SURE PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THAT BEHIND THE SCENES, IT WAS A VERY PUBLIC STATEMENT. DOES THAT MAKE YOU STRONGER EVEN THOUGH YOU’VE PROBABLY HAD THOSE CONVERSATIONS? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU?
“I think a lot of that comes from a little bit of the struggle I had to try to say that it’s my race car or our race car, however you want to look at that. Vegas might have been the first media availability that I hadn’t had the question ‘What’s it like to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr.’. It’s obviously really hard to come into an iconic car like this after somebody like Dale Jr. drove it. I would imagine Chase (Elliott) went through the same thing with big name guys coming before you. That was tough, just to try to be a leader. I’m not a natural leader either; I don’t think Greg (Ives) or myself are. I think that’s something we both struggle with and something we have both tried to help each other out with over the last year and a half. Lately, I feel like we’ve been doing a good job of it. I think it’s kind of a growing process with trying to figure out how to be leaders. We are both kind of a little bit awkward and shy in different situations. We have some really big personalities on our team and it’s easy for us to be quite and kind of let other people be more leaders than we are. We’ve both been working really hard at it and it seems to be paying off lately.”
ARE WE GOING TO SEE WHAT WE SAW AT TALLADEGA SATURDAY NIGHT, WHEN IT COMES TO THE MANUFACTURER AWARD SO TO SPEAK WITH CHEVY’S STRENGTH IN NUMBERS?
“Yeah, I think so. I think everyone watched it at Talladega, so now you are going to have elevated levels of it from our three camps. Each camp is probably going to replicate what we were able to do with the Chevrolet’s and have their own twist on it. It’s going to be really interesting. It’s tough to do, we’re really glad it worked out in Talladega and glad we were able to get one of our cars a win. That’s kind of the point we are at with speedway racing. There is a big strength in numbers and you want all those numbers to be on the same agenda.”
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