NASCAR CUP SERIES
LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
SOUTH POINT 400
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
SEPTEMBER 25, 2020
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 LLUMAR CAMARO ZL1 1LE, met with media via teleconference to discuss his outlook going into the first race of the Round of 12 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the confidence he has in his team going into the second round of the Playoffs, and more. Transcript:
WHERE DO YOU THINK YOUR TEAM IS AT? WATCHING, YOU GUYS CERTAINLY DID ENOUGH TO GET THROUGH TO THIS ROUND, BUT IT’S NOT LIKE YOU’RE RUNNING IN THE TOP- THREE OR FOUR EVERY WEEK.
“I think we’re in a good place, for sure. Darlington went really well for us. Richmond we knew was probably our weak point of the Playoffs. Bristol was going to be a solid top-five night until we had that tire issue. The last couple of weeks, I think we’ve been really strong. Darlington, we had an issue on pit road that cost us a top-five, but I think we still finished sixth. We’re in a good spot. We’re going to some race tracks that are notoriously really good for us compared to where we’ve been over the last couple of weeks. I’m really confident. I think Greg (Ives, crew chief) and the guys are working really well together and we should be really good.”
DO YOU THINK LAS VEGAS WILL RACE PRETTY MUCH THE SAME AS IT DID IN FEBRUARY OR WITH RIGHT-SIDE TIRE CHANGE, DIFFERENT TEMPERATURES AND SO MUCH HAPPENING SINCE THEN THAT IT’LL BE MUCH DIFFERENT?
“I think the tires are probably the most crucial part of what we do, so for it to be different, it’s definitely a big unknown. It’s supposed to be a little bit more grip. So, if it’s more grip, I’d say the race will be similar to February, just in the sense that the track is going to have less, so maybe it will even out a little bit. But it’s going to be really hot and really slick, so it’ll be interesting to see how the tire fall-off is and just how it reacts.”
YOU WERE REALLY SOLID ON 1.5-MILE RACE TRACKS EARLIER. ARE YOU CONFIDENT IN THE LAST HOW MANY RACES THAT WE HAVE LEFT, THAT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS HAS PICKED UP ENOUGH SPEED WHERE THEY CAN BE COMPETITIVE WITH THE OTHER RACE TEAMS?
“I think we’re always trying to find more speed and more power. Our engine shop works really hard to constantly try to find whatever they can find. I think we definitely fell off through the summer and we looked in all areas to just try to improve every area and engines were definitely one. I hope we have enough speed. I think at Darlington and Bristol, we definitely showed we have enough speed. Going to a place like Las Vegas, you look at how we were in the spring there – if we can go and do that again and finish it off this time, that’d be great. But it’s really hard to say. Even for us, not having any practice and just going to so many different race tracks to start the Playoffs, I’m really not quite sure how our 1.5-mile program is going to stack up. But I’m really confident in it and think we’ll be really good.”
WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE PENALTIES THAT CAME DOWN YESTERDAY AND YOU LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR, DO YOU THINK LOSING THE AMOUNT OF TESTING NASCAR IS GOING TO TAKE AWAY WILL EFFECT YOU MORE WITH PEFORMANCE OF THE CURRENT CAR OR PERFORMANCE GOING FORWARD WITH THE NEXT GEN CAR?
“It’s kind of hard for me to answer – obviously I’m not really involved in wind tunnel testing. But I know that it was an internal error and that we self-reported it. But, other than that, I don’t know how the restrictions really work and how that’s going to impact us next year. I know we’re going to have a chunk of time less of wind tunnel testing that we can do next year, which is never a good thing. It’ll impact us somewhat, for sure. It’s never good to have less of that. But, at the same time, it is what it is and we’re just focused on what’s in front of us.”
YOUR THOUGHTS ON IF BRISTOL PUT DIRT DOWN – HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE POSSIBILTY OF SEEING THAT IF IT EVENTUALLY HAPPENS?
“I’d race lawn mowers if I had to. A Cup car on dirt – it doesn’t sound so bad to me. Bristol is a little interesting one. It’s a great race track and to see that race track kind of lose a race, in a sense, would definitely be a bummer. But I’m just interested to see, I feel like I’ll find out about it when you guys do – but, if something like that were to happen, how it would all play out. It’s really interesting to kind of read the rumors and what everybody’s saying. I think it would be a lot of fun – I’m all for running Cup cars on dirt. I never ran the Truck race at Eldora, but I did run some ARCA stuff at the Springfield Mile and that was a blast. Obviously, a very different race track, but that was a lot of fun.”
CAN YOU POINT TO ONE THING THAT YOU’VE LEARNED FROM BEING TEAMMATES WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON?
“I get that question quite a bit and I feel like the biggest thing is just how he treats people, treats everybody at the shop, and just how he is as a person. He’s so humble. He’s had more success than anybody currently racing has and he’s still the nicest guy in the garage, the easiest guy to talk to and just a really good person. Just how he carries himself – we should all definitely be a little more like Jimmie sometimes.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF HIS PROSPECTS ONCE HE GETS INTO INDYCAR, SPORTS CARS OR WHATEVER IT IS THAT HE DECIDES TO DO WITH POST-CAREER DRIVING?
“I’m jealous that he’s going to get to drive so many different types of cool race cars. It obviously sounds like he’s going to have a lot of fun. But I think he’ll do really well. He’s going to be successful in whatever he gets in. He’s so talented and I’m just pumped to get to watch it – I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
WITH THE PLAYOFF SCHEDULE BEING THROWN THROUGH A BLENDER THIS YEAR COMPARED TO LAST YEAR, DOES THAT BENEFIT YOU MORE SO THAN LAST YEAR OR DOES IT NOT MATTER?
“I think this second round – last year we said how good it was going to be for us because we had ran second at every track going into it in the spring and we didn’t make it through the Round of 12. So, it’s hard to say. I feel like there’s some really good tracks for us and every round has an opportunity for us to win, which is definitely good. But it’s tough – it’s never easy. The Playoffs are hard. You have one bad race and the whole thing is kind of blown apart if you don’t have a ton of Playoff points to lean on. I don’t think it’s any better or worse for us. I’m glad we have a shot to win in every round. If we make the Round of 8, we’re going to probably need to win to make the Round of 4. So, it’s definitely good to have those opportunities.”
WE HAD BRAD KESELOWSKI HERE YESTERDAY AND HE SAID ABOUT LAS VEGAS, THAT IT’S THE SECOND-MOST IMPORTANT RACE OUTSIDE OF PHOENIX TO WIN THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE SEASON BASED ON THE UNCERTAINTY OF THE RACES WE HAVE COMING UP IN THE ROUND OF 12. DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT?
“Yeah, I think that makes sense to me. Vegas is probably your best shot at controlling your own destiny over the next three races. Talladega, there’s nowhere to hide – anything can happen and we all know how those races can go. The Roval is obviously a wild card. We’ve run really well there in the past. The HMS road course program is really, really good. I’m not the best road course racer, but we have some good finishes there and I think that comes from some really great race cars. It’s hard to say, but I think it’s definitely a really important race for us.”
WHERE YOU SIT IN POINTS COMING INTO THE ROUND OF 12, DO YOU THINK VEGAS IS POSSIBLY A MUST-WIN SITUATION OR DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE A GOOD POSSIBLITY OF POINTING YOUR WAY IN?
“Yeah, I think we can point our way in. It sure would be nice to go win Vegas, but we’re above the cutline right now. I think we finished seventh in points the last round. We’re obviously closer than I want to be, but at the same time, I think we have every opportunity to point our way in if we just have a good, solid round and execute every week. We just can’t beat ourselves.”
NEXT WEEKEND IS THE 20th ANNIVERSARY OF THE 2000 WINSTON 500, WHICH WAS DALE EARNHARDT’S FINAL VICTORY. DID YOU EVER WATCH THAT RACE AND WHAT DO YOU THINK THE LASTING LEGACY AND IMPACT THAT RACE HAS?
“I would have been seven, so I probably watched, but don’t really remember watching it at that time. That’s the race where Kenny Wallace pushed him to the win, right? I feel like I’ve seen that highlight reel a bunch of times. That’s probably about it. Obviously, Dale (Earnhardt)’s legacy at Talladega, speedway racing in general, and every race track – he won a bunch of those things. Definitely big there, but as far as what that race has carried over, it’s kind of hard for me to speak on. But, it definitely was a good one, for sure.”
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