NASCAR Cup Series

Alex Bowman: “We’re Going to Exceed Expectations”

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.”




Alex Bowman Disappointed with JR Motorsports Debut

By Matt Weaver (CONCORD, N.C.) — Alex Bowman believes he failed to capitalize on a major opportunity on Friday night when he finished 12th in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the JR Motorsports No. 5 car.

Bowman was amongst the leaders in both practice sessions and qualifying but didn’t have the same speed, at night, during the race. He hovered around the top-15 all night and was never satisfied with the balance of his Chevrolet. He struggled in dirty air and ultimately finished outside the top-10.

His championship contending teammates finished eighth and 11th but Bowman says he felt responsible for the negative changes his team made throughout the night.

“We kind of changed the set-up so that we could take off on short runs and gain a couple of spots but it wasn’t something that was going to hang on — and it just got tight,” Bowman said. We just kind of missed it tonight. I feel like clean air would have been helpful tonight for us. I feel like we could have stayed up there. Look at Chase Elliott — he ran away when he was out front and couldn’t really go anywhere we he was back in the pack with us.”

Bowman says it took him almost half the race to reacquaint himself with the Nationwide Series car after almost a full season away. Restarts were most challenging according to the 21-year-old Sprint Cup Series rookie.

“With the Cup car, you have to go to the bottom to power around people,” Bowman said. “But here, you go to the bottom and you could be wide open but you just can’t get around. I screwed that up and cost us a couple of positions on the restarts and definitely learned some stuff and hope to do it again. I don’t feel like I did a good enough job to ask Dale (Earnhardt Jr, car owner) for another shot but maybe he will see something and give me one.”

Bowman says Earnhardt is looking for a driver to move into that car full-time by 2016, presumably when Chase Elliott graduates to the Sprint Cup Series. In the meanwhile, Earnhardt hopes to find another young driver for one-off starts for the rest of the season and the next — and Bowman does have an interest.

“If I have to step back and go full-time Nationwide again, that’s fine with me if I can get in something where I can win,” Bowman said. “We’ve talked about doing a few more races next season and maybe some more after that. A lot of it becomes trying to sell it and fund it on their end and on our end. We’re all working hard at it and I’m just grateful to be able to drive for them.”

Bowman is currently the full-time driver in the Sprint Cup Series for BK Racing where he is 35th in the standings with a 32nd place average finish with the underfunded No. 23 team.