DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Alex Bowman believes he is finally in a situation where he can impress and garner attention for himself following a switch from BK Racing to Tommy Baldwin Racing during the off-season.
Bowman made the most of his rookie year in the underfunded BKR Toyota, posting an average finish of 32.6 while also making his debut with JR Motorsports in the XFINITY Series. The results haven’t always shown it, but Bowman is extremely well-regarded in the Sprint Cup Series garage. He believes the switch to Chevrolet and TBR will put him in a legitimate position to succeed in the immediate future.
“I feel like (crew chief) Bono Manion and all the guys at Tommy Baldwin Racing are awesome,” Bowman told Popular Speed on Friday at Daytona International Speedway. “They are the definition of racers. When you’re around people that live to race and are committed to running better, that’s what it’s all about.”
Bowman received several opportunities to compete in all three national touring divisions over the off-season but working with Baldwin will allow him to continue growing in the Cup Series while also looking for winning opportunities in the XFINITY Series.
But more than anything else, Bowman believes that TBR has the foundation and personnel in place to become a race winning team over the next several seasons — a process that he hopes to be a part of.
“Trying to run better — that’s what Tommy is all about,” Bowman said. “Eventually, I feel like TBR will be a race-winning organization and I want to be a part of that. We’re going to do everything possible to build faster race cars and better equipment.
“That starts at the shop and the people at TBR is one of the better groups that I’ve ever been a part of.
While Bowman isn’t a huge fan of restrictor plate racing, he believes his No. 7 team is capable of running up front in the Daytona 500 next weekend. He says it is not out of the question to see them finish in the top-5 or even contend for the win in the Great American Race.
“With their speedway cars and the Chevrolet engine, we have as good of a shot as anyone in the Daytona 500,” Bowman said. “We just have to take it one step at a time and hopefully qualify well.”
Bowman successfully raced his way into the Daytona 500 last year and will have to do so again in his first year at TBR.
The No. 7 finished last season 33rd in the owner standings, meaning that Bowman has a cushion to make the field if he runs into trouble in qualifying or on Thursday in the qualifying races. As a result, Bowman says the pressure is off.
“Last year was really stressful,” Bowman said of Daytona qualifying. “We had the two slowest cars here by over a second so we were all really stressed. We built a strong team over there at BK Racing. We had a lot of good people and making the Daytona 500 was a big deal. I don’t think we’re going to have as hard of a time this year at TBR. We have those owner points to fall back on and the race car itself is going to be a lot better than the ones we had last year on speedways.”
Tommy Baldwin Racing is back to a single-car effort in 2015 but Bowman believes the additional focus on the No. 7 will ultimately work in their favor.
“We’re pretty much on our own as far as working with another team,” Bowman said. “We have some RCR cars and RCR engines for Daytona and Talladega. We have the help of Team Chevy and the help of RCR, so I feel like that’s going to pay off big.
“I feel like we’re going to exceed expectations.”
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