Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Bowman Confident Heading Into 2018
On Tuesday, fans got their first glance at Hendrick Motorsports’ new look as they addressed the press for the first time in 2018 as part of NASCAR’s annual media tour. A significant portion of the changes is Alex Bowman, who becomes the full-time driver of the No. 88, replacing the now retired Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The story of Bowman is an interesting one. Unlike most young drivers in the sport, who have entered the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with a team they’ve worked with for several years prior, the 24-year-old spent time with less funded organizations. He drove for BK Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing, before getting a part-time opportunity with JR Motorsports which ultimately opened the door with Hendrick.
To perfectly illustrate the wild ride that is Bowman’s time in Cup, in two years, he will go from learning about losing his ride on Twitter, to competing for a championship organization.
“I’m glad that it all worked out this way,” Bowman said. “I could have easily gone a different direction. Very thankful for how things have gone.”
While he may have only run one race in Cup last year (The Clash in February), the expectations are still high for himself heading into the new season.
“Well, they hired me to go win races and contend for championships and that is what I plan on doing,” Bowman said.
Now, some may see this statement as a reach for a driver who’s been away from competition at NASCAR’s highest level for an extended period, but it isn’t.
After all, this isn’t a new situation for Bowman. In 2016, he faced a familiar circumstance when he was called upon to replace Earnhardt. At the time, he hadn’t been in Cup since 2015 and had zero time in equipment anywhere near as good as Hendrick’s.
For those that don’t remember, the Arizona-native took full advantage of the opportunity at hand. He regularly ran well, scored three top-10’s, led 199 laps after winning the pole at Phoenix, and showed improvement throughout his tenure with the team.
Bowman’s track record shows him being out of a car does not affect him if he returns to a quality ride, and this isn’t just proven with his substitution efforts. Last year, after being out of competition for seven months, he returned to NASCAR in the XFINITY Series with Chip Ganassi Racing at Charlotte and won. Now, XFINITY isn’t Cup but still, an impressive show of his skill nonetheless.
“I have a pretty strong desire to go win races and I’m really hungry for wins. I think that really matters more to me than any pressure anybody is going to put on me,” Bowman said.
The confidence and determination are there. Bowman has proven himself to be capable. The question is, will he be able to live up to the goals and expectations he has set for himself?
Mitchell Breuer is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist
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