Alex Bowman on driving No. 88: ‘I have to learn from my mistakes’
After a tough race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Alex Bowman is focused on improving things he can control.
A strong qualifying run that landed him on the outside pole in the Bank of America 500, but Bowman blew a tire running third, resulting in a 39th-place finish.
In an exclusive interview with FOXSports.com, Bowman was still trying to shake off the misfortune.
“Obviously, Sunday wasn’t anybody’s fault. It was just a tire failure,” said Bowman. “It was really unfortunate and it was nothing we did. We didn’t run over anything. It just failed. We were running third, about to pass for second when it happened, so you can’t really complain.”
Bowman has shown serious speed in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, but closing the deal has been a little tough. But, he says crew chief Greg Ives and the entire team does an excellent job of keeping the morale high.
“I think the whole team does a really good job with that,” said Bowman. “Greg stayed really upbeat even though we finished 39th. He was still really pleased with how our car ran. We brought a whole new race car, so it was good to see the progress Hendrick Motorsports has made as a whole. We’ve come a long way in the past couple months as an organization. I think the whole No. 88 team stayed really positive on a bad day.”
Having Dale Earnhardt Jr. as a mentor while keeping the drivers’ seat warm for him is, without a doubt, extremely helpful for Bowman's learning curve, as well.
Earnhardt was also at the track this past weekend, which was another plus.
“He’s really helpful and someone that I’ve leaned on for a very long time,” he said. “Now, I can lean on him a lot more with advice throughout the week and having him be there just to tell me what I need to do better.”
Despite the crash, Earnhardt was very pleased with what he saw.
“I thought Alex and the 88 guys did a great job all weekend,” Earnhardt said. “They obviously qualified well. I thought they had a pretty good car in practice, but when the race started, it was even better than I thought. They showed a lot of speed.”
Another frustrating part about the Charlotte race for Bowman was the initial start. Starting from the outside pole, he spun his tires, which allowed Kyle Busch to pass him on the outside in Turn 1.
“It’s frustrating because I know that I didn’t do a good job,” Bowman said. “You’ve got Kevin Harvick next to you who’s definitely good at playing games on restarts. I know what I did wrong and what I need to do better at. There are just a lot of situations where mentally, I haven’t been there before. I just have to learn from my mistakes and do a better job.”
“It was the second time that I ever restarted on the front row of a Cup race my entire career,” he added. “So, I’m just trying to do a better job with some of the situations that are new to me and go from there.”
After Bowman’s subpar start, Busch came over the radio and told his team he would be happy to talk to the No. 88 about what happened. But according to Bowman, the two of them haven’t talked about it.
“I haven’t gotten ahold of Kyle,” he said. “He’ll say stuff about other drivers a lot on the radio because I’ve heard that before toward other guys. If I was somebody else, I feel like the No. 18 would have probably pushed me, but I was spinning my tires so bad, it would have hurt both of us if he would have tried to push me anyway.”
Now Bowman is focused on going to Kansas Speedway and doing the same thing they did at Charlotte, only with a better result.
“I think we can apply a lot of what we learned at Charlotte to Kansas and we can be fast there. Obviously with two wins there (in the ARCA Racing Series), I like that place a lot. Hopefully we’re just going to pick up where we left off and be fast off the truck and qualify well.”
Overall for Bowman, the experience of driving the No. 88 as a whole is still surreal.
“I never thought I would get to driver for Hendrick Motorsports in a Cup car,” he said. “It’s pretty unreal. Just being a part of Hendrick Motorsports. I had my role there throughout the year, but now to be actually driving the car and involved in everything that’s going on, it’s been a lot of fun.”