NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 7, 2020
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS’ DRIVER ALEX BOWMAN AND CREW CHIEF GREG IVES, ALONG WITH ANDREA BRIMMER, CHIEF MARKETING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER FOR ALLY, met with media via teleconference to discuss the recent announcement of Alex Bowman taking over the No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1 1LE for Hendrick Motorsports in 2021. Full Transcript:
MODERATOR: We’re joined this morning by NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Contender, Alex Bowman. It was announced yesterday that Alex will drive the No. 48 Chevrolet of Hendrick Motorsports beginning next season. We will be joined very shortly by Crew Chief, Greg Ives, and he will move to the No. 48 with Alex next season. He will be returning to the team where he started his career at as an engineer.
Alex and Greg have earned Cup Series Playoff berths for three-straight seasons and have posted a win in each of the last two. Alex is one of just nine drivers in the Series to have done that, five of those being former Series champions. This weekend, he will be looking to advance into the Playoff’s Round of Eight this Sunday at the Charlotte ROVAL.
We’re very pleased to also be joined by Andrea Brimmer, the Chief Marketing and PR Officer for Ally. Ally, as everyone knows, has been a full-season primary sponsor of the No. 48 team since 2019 and, last year, extended its relationship with Hendrick Motorsports through 2023.
To get start, Alex, congratulations on the announcement. When you got that call from Mr. Hendrick that you were going to moving to the No. 48 next year with a full-season primary sponsor in Ally, how did you react?
ALEX BOWMAN: “I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. My initial reaction was just being excited and honored to drive the No. 48 car. Jimmie (Johnson) has meant a lot to me throughout my entire career and everything he’s done for me, whether it’s being a friend off the racetrack and just somebody to get advice from or a great teammate. It’s been awesome to get to work with him and to get to know him. To get to drive that car is an honor and I just want to go get it in victory lane and have a lot of fun doing it.”
MODERATOR: Greg Ives has joined us. Greg, I’m going to jump right in with you. You won five championships as a No. 48 engineer. You’ve gone on to be a championship and race winning crew chief yourself. You have a ton of history with the No. 48. What does it mean to have a chance to be a crew chief for the team where you started?
GREG IVES: “It’s definitely really special for me. The 48 number is pretty close to my heart, just because it’s something that’s helped my career and opened doors for me. The success that Chad (Knaus) and Jimmie (Johnson) have together allowed me to grow, not only as an engineer, but also how to lead a team, how to truly have character on and off the race track. It allowed me to understand what it takes to have a good team around you and great people. And also, it helped build my relationship with the driver. So, I think that’s something that I’ve used over the course of my career since leaving the No. 48 team, starting my own career going to JRM and working with different drivers and coming back to Hendrick Motorsports. I think that team, that number, has built a pedigree that’s known for greatness and known for their competitiveness on the race track. But I know Jimmie is also known for what he does for his teammates and his people. It’s something that’s truly special, kind of full-circle for sure. I still remember that first day when Chad asked me to be his race engineer, so connecting all these dots and connecting what Hendrick Motorsports has meant to me, and the numbers along the way, have truly defined different times in my career. But, all-in-all, as a whole, Hendrick Motorsports has done a lot for my career. It’s truly special and I’m honored to be able to represent Ally and also represent the No. 48 again.”
MODERATOR: Andrea, what is Ally’s approach to this new chapter of the No. 48 Team with Alex as your driver? And, what do you see as Ally’s objectives for sponsorship as we go into 2021?
ANDREA BRIMMER: “First, I want to say I think Greg and Alex both look good in Ally gear. I’m excited to see that. Alex is somebody that I think represents the future of what NASCAR is about. And, he’s an unbelievable driver. We want to win championships. And we know with Greg and Alex that we have great ability to be able to do that. I mean, the No. 48 is a special car. It needs to be honored and the legacy of it needs to be carried forward, and we think that with Greg and Alex we have the best ability to carry that legacy forward in a really strong way.
“When we entered the sport two years ago, our aim was really to do things differently and to disrupt and to really bring fans a whole new level of engagement and to tell a different side of the sport and the story behind what goes into getting that car on the track every day. And then really working closely with the driver to make sure that, in Jimmie’s case, that he felt really comfortable behind the wheel of the No. 48 and that he really felt like he had a big say in what was happening with everything that we were doing. We want to do the same thing with Alex. We want to make the car his own. We want to let his personality shine through. And, we want to make sure that he knows that he’s got us on board with him so that he can be the best that he can be on the track.”
QUESTIONS FROM THE MEDIA:
FIRST, CONGRATULATIONS ALEX. YOUR THOUGHTS – YOU TAKE OVER A CAR FOR DALE EARNHARDT JR. AND YOU THING TO YOURSELF, WELL THAT’S KIND OF HARD TO TOP. WELL, NOW YOU’RE TAKING OVER JIMMIE JOHNSON’S CAR. JUST YOUR THOUGHTS ON FOLLOWING THE FOOTSTEPS OF TWO DRIVERS LIKE THAT AND WHAT MADE JUMPING INTO JR.’S CAR WILL HELP YOU THROUGH THE PROCESS OF JUMPING INTO ANOTHER CAR WITH SUCH A GREAT LEGACY.
ALEX BOWMAN: “Yeah, I think for sure the experience of the first one helps for the second one. The biggest thing is I just want to be myself. I didn’t try to be Dale (Earnhardt Jr.), I didn’t want to be Dale. And the same with Jimmie (Johnson), I don’t want to be Jimmie. I mean I want to win seven championships and do all the great things that he did, but I’m my own person. So, I’m just going to approach it like another race car. I’m really excited to work with Ally. The biggest thing for me is I want to go win races and win championships. I think, for me, I’m kind of quiet and reserved, and I want the on-track stuff to speak for me the most and I want that to be wins and championships. So, I’m excited about that. I’m excited about the opportunity to go and do that. And to work with Ally, getting to know everybody over the last week-and-a-half or so has been really neat. The way they do things is really cool and how they disrupt and do things differently is really special. So, to have the same partner on the car for the whole year, to get to kind of grow with them and make it my own with them is going to be a lot of fun, and hopefully, there’s a lot of wins along the way.”
TO FOLLOW UP, JUST YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT THE PLAYOFFS, GOING INTO THE ROVAL THIS WEEKEND AND THE FINAL RACE IN ROUND TWO.
ALEX BOWMAN: “Yeah, I’m glad we’ve had so much going on this week. It’s kind of kept me from thinking about the Playoffs as much as I probably would, at least getting stressed out about it as much as I normally would. There’s never a comfortable spot going into a cut-off race unless you’re locked in. So, we have 22 points, but it’s not comfortable by any means. I’m still as stressed out as ever. We just need to go out and have a solid day. The ROVAL has been good to us over the last couple of years, even though it’s been some really hard days, we’ve had some really good finishes. Hopefully, we can just have a good, solid day and not have to worry about it too much and move onto the Round of Eight.”
I HAVE ONE FOR BOTH GREG AND ONE FOR ALEX. LET’S START WITH ALEX. YOU’RE STILL AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, JUST A NEW NUMBER, NEW PAINT SCHEME AND NEW SPONSOR. HOW DIFFERENT IS 2021 COMPARED TO 2020?
ALEX BOWMAN: “I think the biggest difference is the opportunity to work with Ally and to grow with them. I’m excited about that. As far as the on-track stuff, the number is different, like you said, the paint scheme is going to be different. But, still working with Greg (Ives) and still have a lot of confidence in our relationship and what we can bring to the table. So, I don’t think the on-track stuff is much different. Obviously, we’re trying to improve each and every week and get better. But I’m just excited to work with Ally and to try to make that my own.”
FOR GREG, OBVIOUSLY WITH CHAD (KNAUS) TAKING AN EXECUTIVE ROLE, THERE NEEDS TO BE A NEW CREW CHIEF AT HENDRICK. OBVIOUSLY, THAT OPENS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR POTENTIAL CHANGES. I’M CURIOUS, IS THERE ANY DISCUSSION ABOUT YOU CREW CHIEFING ANYONE ELSE? AND, IN ADDITION TO THAT, WHAT MAKES IT RIGHT FOR YOU TO STICK WITH ALEX?
GREG IVES: “There were changes with Chad (Knaus), but never was there a discussion about Alex and I losing that relationship that we’ve built over the last three-and-a-half years. Him coming in initially and filling in for Dale (Earnhardt Jr.), I think we hit it off right off the bat. We went to probably one of his least-favorite race tracks at New Hampshire and he had a great showing. I think he showed a lot of poise and comfort back then of coming in and filling in for Dale. We haven’t had a perfect relationship. We’ve had one or two ups and downs, here and there, but the nice thing about us working together is we work through those. You’re going to have that in every serious relationship. There was no question in my mind of who I wanted to be the crew chief for and that was a mutual thing on Alex’s side. For me, one hundred percent no thoughts of anything other than going to Ally with Alex and continuing on our progress of doing great things on the race track, but also looking forward to doing things off of it, as well.”
ALEX, WHEN YOU KNEW YOU WERE ON THE LIST, SO TO SPEAK, AND BETWEEN THE TIME YOU ACTUALLY GOT THE PHONE CALL THAT OFFICIALLY CONFIRMED IT, I’D LIKE TO KNOW HOW YOU FELT DURING THAT TIME? WAS IT NERVOUS ENERGY, NERVOUS ‘I HOPE I GET IT’ AND THEN ACTUALLY GETTING THE PHONE CALL, WHETHER IT WAS MR. HENDRICK OR SOMEBODY CALLING SAYING ‘HEY, GUESS WHAT, YOU’RE IN’. HOW DID THAT MOMENT FEEL FOR YOU AS A PERSON?
ALEX BOWMAN: “There really wasn’t an in-between time there. I obviously signed a contract extension earlier this year that I was going to continue to drive for Hendrick Motorsports next year. I didn’t know that there might be a number change and all that. I really didn’t know what was going on – as far as I knew, I was driving the No. 88 car and everything was staying the same. I got a phone call to go meet with Mr. Hendrick. That was the first thing he said was ‘you’re going to drive the No. 48 next year with Ally and Greg is going to be your crew chief’. So, there wasn’t any nervous energy because it hit me out of nowhere. But, it means a lot to me that they have confidence in me to take over a car like that and to work with a partner like Ally. It means a lot that Ally has confidence in me to do that. It was really special and I just want to go win for them, really.”
GREG IVES: “I’d like to add something to that. Performance adds opportunity. I get to see first-hand what Alex does on a weekly basis. How hard he competes not only on the race track, but in his regimen to get ready every week, whether it’s the DiL, willingly spending four hours every week in the DiL; whether it’s working out every morning and every afternoon. I see that from the side of putting in the work, putting in the right effort and that leads to performance on the race track. I always say performance equals opportunity. That’s Alex’s hard work and dedication to his career and trying to make my job a little easier.”
IT USED TO BE THE NORM TO HAVE A FULL-SEASON, FULL-TIME SPONSOR, BUT NOT SO MUCH ANYMORE. WHAT WAS ALLY’S ATTRACTION TO COMING INTO THIS SPORT AND SIGNING ON AS A FULL-TIME SPONSOR?
ANDREA BRIMMER: “From our lens, it didn’t make a lot of sense for us to share the car. We just didn’t feel like we would be able to have the presence that we wanted to have if we didn’t come in as a full-time sponsor. And we wanted to have that continuity. We liked the direction that NASCAR was going in. We feel like they’re bringing in a lot of new fans and that there was a big opportunity for us to start to reach a new audience of really loyal fans. Obviously, having a driver like Jimmie for the last couple of years was a really a unique opportunity to be a part of that legacy. And we just felt like if we came in halfway, that we really wouldn’t be showing our best selves. And so, we wanted to come in full-time. And, we also felt from the driver perspective, that it would give Jimmie peace of mind that he didn’t have to worry all season about who the sponsor was on the car. And we wanted to continue with that same theme for Alex so that he and Greg don’t even have to think about it and that they know they’ve got a partner is present that’s with them 24/7 and that we’re on the car and that we’re committed to this long-term. It’s actually why we extended even prior to the driver announcement because we wanted to make sure that the sport, the fans, Hendrick Motorsports, and obviously, Alex and Greg knew that we were in it for the long haul.”
ALEX AND GREG, CONGRATULATIONS ON THE PROMOTION, IF YOU WILL. I JUST WANTED TO GET YOUR FEELINGS ON HAVING THIS NEW DEAL TAKE PLACE AND HAVE IT COMPLETED BEFORE 2021, ESPECIALLY THE YEAR BEFORE YOU GUYS ARE SUPPOSED TO TRANSITION TO THE NEXT GEN CAR IN 2022. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO BE DONE NOW SO YOU HAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO PLAN AHEAD FOR THE FUTURE?
ALEX BOWMAN: “Greg, you want to take that first?”
GREG IVES: “The last question to Andrea was having the full-time sponsorship all year long and the interaction between the sponsor and the team has to be based around performance and based around a relationship that is able to grow, flourish and have the ability to show not only what happens on-track, but the relationship off of it. Getting that start, understanding and knowing – I’ve worked with Ally over the last two years as a competitor, somewhat, in the same stable, and seeing that car and that team, how they work and operate, and the flexibility they have in performance. So, that’s been really great to see and I’m looking forward to it.”
“As far as the future goes, to go back to performance creates opportunity, that’s going to create our future. Every stepping stone, every door that opens along the way, is based on a team’s performance – not only just Alex, but the team we’ve built over the last few years. This is an opportunity for us to come in, be a part of a great organization like Ally, and grow as a team. I don’t think you’ll find a better group of guys to work with that makes a sponsor feel like they’re at home. For us as a group, it’s going to help solidify just that identity that we have to create and we have to build together. Like I said, performance equals opportunity and with this announcement, with this change, with this adjustment – we know the group of people we have behind us, supporting us, are putting us in the right direction.”
I JUST WANTED TO GET YOUR THOUGHTS AS WELL ALEX ON HOW IMPORTANT IT IS THAT THIS IS DONE NOW, ESPECIALLY WITH THE TRANSITION PERIOD FOR NASCAR COMING TO 2022 FOR THE NEXT GEN CAR?
ALEX BOWMAN: “Yeah, for sure. I think a lot of what Greg said is how I feel. 2020, in general, brought a lot of nervousness to a lot of people. Whether it was anybody throughout any organization, it’s been a hard time for everybody. For our race team, for our group of guys to know that we have Ally behind us – Mr. Hendrick, Ally, and everybody has faith in us as a group to continue to work together. I feel like that enables people to not worry about things and just focus on the task at hand. Whether it’s the guys in the shop, just not having that little bit of nervousness, not having to worry about that and just being able to go do their jobs and do the best job that they can. I think that’s a really important thing. For me, I’m a race car driver. Everything is immediate, in a sense. I’m focused on this weekend and next week, I’ll be focused on the following weekend. The 2022 car seems forever a way, to me, but as an organization at Hendrick Motorsports, the 2022 car probably seems like it’s going to show up tomorrow. So, there’s a lot of work that needs to happen between now and then. I think just having the confidence, not having to worry about anything, and just being more sure about things helps people prepare for that a little bit better.”
EVEN THOUGH WE’RE TALKING PRIMARLY ABOUT NEXT YEAR, YOU STILL HAVE A JOB IN FRONT OF YOU RIGHT NOW. LET’S THINK OPTIMISTICALLY THAT EVERYTHING GOES OK AT THE ROVAL. FOR BOTH OF YOU, TAKE A LOOK AT THAT NEXT ROUND, IF YOU WILL, AND WHERE YOU FEEL LIKE THE TEAM IS AS A WHOLE AND WHAT YOU’D LIKE TO IMPROVE ON GOING INTO THOSE THREE RACES.
ALEX BOWMAN: “Yeah, I think we’re in a really good spot. We’ve been really strong over the last month or so. It’s not secret that this summer was rough on us. But our guys worked extremely hard and continued to work well together throughout some tough circumstances. I feel like we grew as a race team because of that and we were able to start the Playoffs really strong and we’ve been strong each and every week. I think going into the next round, there’s a few opportunities to win, between Kansas and Texas. And going to Martinsville, we improved there. We were pretty strong there in the spring, but there’s still things I can learn there and do a better job of. I’m still figuring out the short track thing a little bit. I feel like it’s probably going to take a win to make it to the Round of Four, just where we are in Playoff points and everything. It’s not impossible to point our way in, but we’d have to be perfect each and every week. It would be a heck of a lot easier to win one of the first two. So, I feel like we can do that. We’re very capable of doing that. Our mile-and-a-half program is really strong and I think we have a shot at it, for sure.”
GREG IVES: “Based on what Alex said, I feel like each round, we’ve had our strengths and we’ve had our areas where we need to continue to work on. I wouldn’t say they’re a weakness, but they’re areas that we know we have to improve. We have to run solid, we have to gain points and not beat ourselves. I think we’ve been able to do that over the course of the first five races. Going into the ROVAL as well, you look on paper, we have a great average finish, but that came with a lot of adversity throughout the race – whether it was starting in a backup car, whether Alex wasn’t feeling well at the time. There was a lot of things we had to overcome and that’s the true character of a team. It’s not so much when the average finish looks great and the expectation of winning is there, but on those days, like we’ll probably have when we get to Martinsville, digging down deep, figuring out ways to make that improvement and get the spots that he needs. And that’s what we’re going to have to do when it comes to the ROVAL. Kansas and Texas, like he said, I feel like there’s no doubt in my mind that we can go out there and win the race. Martinsville just has to be one of our best days. Like Alex said, we’ve been improving at Martinsville. Our short track game at Phoenix is pretty stellar, so looking forward to that when we do make the Round of Four. Just continuously improving and continuously building each other up to take on the next challenge and that’s what we’re looking forward to doing.”
ALEX, THIS WEEKEND, THE WEATHER AT THIS POINT LOOKS LIKE THE POTENTIAL FOR RAIN ON SUNDAY. HOW CHALLENGING IS THE ROVAL AND WHAT WOULD BE THE EXTRA CHALLENGES WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR RAIN?
ALEX BOWMAN: “Oh man, that’s going to be interesting, for sure. I like things that are different, whether it’s going to new race tracks or new things. The rain would be pretty different, so maybe I’ll like it (laughs). It’s going to be interesting. It’s definitely a difficult thing to adapt to and a challenge. I think the particular challenge about the ROVAL in the rain is it’s so narrow through the infield that there’s not a lane to run off groove, right? A lot of race tracks you go to, you run off groove to stay out of the rubber because obviously rubber, oil and the rain gets very slick. The ROVAL, there’s not really room for that. There’s a lot of painted sections, which paint in the rain gets really slick. You’re always using a lot of curbs through the infield and curbs in the rain get really slick. In the simulator yesterday, I was kind of just looking at it and trying to figure out where you’d run through each corner, and there’s not a great place run anywhere. So, it’s going to be really interesting. I think it’s going to be very difficult if that does happen. Some of the road course racers that have some rain experience – I think Michael McDowell is probably the most excited person in the world right now. But, I just have to go and try to do the best job that I can. I feel like I’ll be able to adapt to it, it’s just going to be a challenge, for sure.”
HAVE YOU EVER RAN IN THE RAIN? I DON’T RECALL THAT YOU HAVE.
ALEX BOWMAN: “No – I ran some practice laps at Road America in Xfinity that was like half-dry, so that was different though. It was really patchy, it was not currently raining. Other than that, I think we all raced at Bristol in the snow that year, but I don’t that you can really count that.”
YOU TALKED ABOUT THE ADVERSITY AT THE ROVAL LAST YEAR AND YOU WENT THROUGH A LOT OF THINGS. BUT, TYPICALLY, ON ROAD COURSES YOU WANT TO PIT UNDER GREEN MOST OF THE TIME AND HAVE AS FEW STOPS AS POSSIBLE. IS THE ROVAL DIFFERENT WITH PIT STRATEGY? WHY DID IT WORK SO WELL LAST YEAR?
GREG IVES: “Ultimately were in a position of battling for different points. I think that little bit of difficulty that we had early caused us to kind of get off our plan a little bit. That’s where your ability to adjust to the environment that you’re given really comes into play. And we knew that those guys that were having good days in the Playoff points, we had to do something different to take advantage of that in the final Stage. We just adapted to the race that was given to us and we just took advantage of different opportunities. It was a gamble, for sure. Not every gamble plays out and doesn’t always work, but if you don’t take it, you’ll never know. And that’s the confidence I have in Alex to execute when we’re not right on game plan. That’s the confidence on the guys that surround me that make me look good on Sundays, to give me the best information and allows me to make decisions. So yes, it was unconventional. It was effective. And, I think sometimes that’s what it takes when your day is not going perfect. You’ve got to make the most of it.
“To add to what Alex said about driving in the rain, you can say what makes a good driver driving in the dry, right? So, it takes the ability for a driver to understand the limit of the race car and understand the limit of the race track and the scenario. So, we’re going in there with a decent point lead, but nothing that’s comfortable by any means. So, our job is to take the day if it’s raining and get all we can out of the race car, but not take ourselves out of the race. And ultimately, that’s where Alex does a really good job of doing and making the best out of every scenario; just like we did with a 6-stop strategy at the ROVAL last year. So, whatever weather gives us, we’re going to take advantage of whatever it is, whether it’s slowing down a beat just to make sure we’re there at the end of the race and like Alex said, he’s going everything he can, whether it’s the DiL to prep for it, to just mentally understanding what he needs to do to get to the next round.”
YOU’VE TALKED PRIVATELY ABOUT SOME OF THE ATTRIBUTES THAT ALEX HAS THAT MAKE HIM A GOOD FIT FOR ALLY. COULD YOU TOUCH ON A FEW OF THOSE? AND, YOU’VE ALSO DESCRIBED ALLY AS A ‘DISRUPTER’ FROM A MARKETING PERSPECTIVE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW THAT FITS IN WITH YOUR NASCAR PROGRAM?
ANDREA BRIMMER: “One of the things that we love about this relationship is that Alex has a lot of the same values that we do. And that’s really important to us. We really only align our brand with people that share the values that we do, both in terms of giving back; around being a good citizen of the world. You heard Alex say it at the onset of this, which is he lets it all speak for itself on the track, and we love that about him. And we want to bring that forward. We want the fans to get to know Alex a little bit better to understand the things that he’s passionate about (like) his passion for cars and his passion for animals, especially dogs, and just the hard worker that he is in the time that he puts in and I think the quiet confidence he and the team with Greg have. We love that. And, I think it reflects a lot of what our brand it about. So, from that perspective, that’s a big part of the story that we want to tell as we go into next year and let the world get to know Alex a little bit better.
“In terms of the disruptive piece, for us, whether it was having a hundred people from Ally fly out and cheer Jimmie on as he ran the Boston Marathon, or doing things like introducing Ally Fuel and Futures, where we brought in kids from schools before every race and taught them the technology behind what goes into a team and really got them to know the sport from that perspective, to help bring those casual fans in kind of from the sidelines, to all of the different things like even just the way that we introduced Jimmie’s car with the Easter eggs when we launched. We’re always looking for different ways to get people interested and intrigued. And I think we’re going to do some fun things with Alex as well, really leaning into those passions and really kind of getting people to think differently about the sport. So, that’s really going to be our focus as we go into 2021.”
ALEX, YOU’VE HAD A RELATIVELY SHORT, BUT VERY EXTENSIVE, TENURE AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS. STARTING OUT RISKING STAYING THERE WITH NO GUARANTEE OF A JOB AND DOING ALL THE SIM WORK. I WAS JUST WONDERING IF YOU COULD DESCRIBE A LITTLE BIT YOUR JOURNEY AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AND DID YOU EVER FATHOM IT WOULD COME SO FAR SO FAST?
ALEX BOWMAN: “Yeah, it’s been really interesting, for sure. To start in 2016, to get a phone call from Kenny Francis to come drive the simulator because every other driver was in Daytona and I got fired on Twitter, so I wasn’t there (laughs). To go through that, I drove the simulator for them quite a bit that year. And then, ended up filling in for Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) when he was hurt – kind of splitting that car with Jeff Gordon. To going back to the simulator in 2017 and then full-time in 2018, it was definitely a whirlwind. Everything happens for a reason and to have 2016 go the way that it did and to end up driving for Hendrick Motorsports because of it is pretty amazing to me. I definitely never would have thought that any of that would have happened. Since 2018, I’ve just been focused on trying to win races and perform the best that I can and represent our partners the best that I can. But those couple of years were definitely a whirlwind and very life-changing. I think to look back at it all is pretty crazy, for sure.”
DO YOU THINK THAT YOUR JOURNEY IN MOTORSPORTS, IN GENERAL, MIGHT HAVE LED SOME HOPE TO OTHER YOUNG GUYS THAT THERE ARE PATHS UP THE LATER BASED ON WHAT KIND OF PERSON YOU ARE AND YOU’RE PERFORMANCE, NOT JUST ALL ABOUT MONEY?
ALEX BOWMAN: “Yeah, for sure. That’s the biggest motorsport’s problem right now, right? That it’s so hard to make it without a bunch of money behind you. Obviously, my family did absolutely everything they could and sacrificed a lot to try to get me opportunities. In the end, it ended up being enough, but it didn’t look like it was going to be enough for quite a while. Hopefully, my story provides some hope to people. I think the moral of the story is to never give up. There were times in 2015 and really 2016 where I was like ‘man, I need to go to college, get a degree and find something to do’ because it’s just not working. I was close, but I never gave up and to end up here is really cool, for sure.”
IN TUCSON, WE HAVE AN AUDIENCE THAT AREN’T EXACTLY HARDCORE NASCAR FANS OR EVEN HARDCORE SPORTS FANS, SO MY QUESTION IS, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEBODY WHO’S NOT THAT FAMILIAR WITH THE SPORT WHO MIGHT NOT UNDERSTAND WHY NUMBERS AREN’T RETIRED IN NASCAR THE WAY THEY ARE IN OTHER SPORTS?
ALEX BOWMAN: “Yeah, that’s an interesting question. I feel like the number becomes really important as a brand to the organization, the partners, kind of everybody involved. You put so much behind a number and obviously it means a ton to the driver. So, the No. 88 meant a ton to Dale Jr. The No. 48 means a ton to Jimmie Johnson. Obviously, Jimmie made the 48 what it is, but Hendrick Motorsports was also a big part of making the 48 what it is. And Ally for the past couple of years has become a big part of what the 48 is. The 48 means a lot to everybody and it’s definitely necessary to keep it going. From my side, it’s an honor to get to drive that car and I want to go win races, do that car proud and make it my own. I’m never going to be Jimmie Johnson, but I think we can definitely add to the legacy, add to the wins column and hopefully the championships column, as well.”
GREG, IF YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO ADD TO THAT?
GREG IVES: “What Alex said is definitely spot-on. It takes such a group of people to make success on a race track and just because they’re not in the headlines doesn’t mean that they’re support and what they do day in and day out, doesn’t contribute to the legacy and the meaning of that number. For me, like I said, that was a career-builder for me to work under the No. 48 banner and to be able to come back to it has definitely come full circle for me. But if not given that opportunity, potentially, you know, it definitely would be something that I would want to continue to try to achieve. So, yeah, retiring numbers, I think it’s something that we’ve got to continue to honor, the history of the sport and the history of the number; and then that way it’s about going out there and doing that number proud and also the sponsor and the team that it represents.”
FROM A SPONSOR PERSPECTIVE, WHY IS THE CAR NUMBER IMPORTANT IN STAYING WITH THAT CONSISTENCY WITH THE NO. 48?
ANDREA BRIMMER: “For us, there’s a huge fans base that comes along with the No. 48. Granted, you have people that are fans of the No. 48 because of Jimmie, but there’s a legacy with the car itself and with the number. And as a sponsor, you invest a lot of time and money and energy into building the fandom around the car number. And so, making sure that carried on with Alex and Greg was important from our lens, just given how much effort we’ve put into extending, like I said, the fan base around that in the last couple of years. So, I think that piece is important. To me, I think the best honor you could do it is to continue the legacy and to win and to get additional championships behind the No. 48 and make sure that we’re doing everything as a sponsor to enable that.”
HOW CHALLENGING WAS IT TO PUT THIS PROGRAM TOGETHER DURING A PANDEMIC? THERE’S PROBABLY A LOT OF FLYING BACK AND FORTH, FACE-TO-FACE MEETINGS THAT YOU WOULD WANT TO HAVE WHEN YOU’RE LOOKING AT CANDIDATES FOR A ROLE AS LARGE AS THIS. WE ALL KNOW ALEX’S PASSION, BUT I’M JUST KIND OF CURIOUS, WHAT WERE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES THAT WERE FACED TRYING TO GET THIS DONE AND JUST IN GENERAL DURING THE PANDEMIC, THE CHALLENGES FOR SPONSORS IN NASCAR?
ANDREA BRIMMER: “Yeah, it’s definitely been a challenging year across every aspect of marketing, not just NASCAR. There were a lot of phone calls with Rick (Hendrick). We started early-on. We have a great relationship with Hendrick Motorsports and a great relationship with Hendrick Automotive; we have for a long time. I’ve known Rick for a long time. He picked-up the phone very early on, this year; and we started having driver conversations. And, we have a lot of faith in him and just given the history of the relationship, really leaned in heavily into Rick’s recommendation and Rick’s bias toward Alex right from the beginning. And so, there really wasn’t flying back and forth or any of those things necessary. I think I had two or three conversations with Rick. My boss, Jeff Brown, had a couple of conversations. Our CEO had a couple of conversations with Rick. And, that was it. We agreed that Alex was the right driver for us. Obviously, we did our homework to make sure that we knew Alex and that his values aligned with our values. And see Alex, all this stuff was going on without you even knowing it in the background. And it became an easy choice for us. And the more we watched him kind of grow on the track all season long, the more and more excited we got about it.
“In terms of the challenges, yeah, huge pivots. We are used to engaging fans, literally, at every race. And so not having the ability to be on track; we’ve got all of our people working from home, so we certainly aren’t going to send our folks out to the track to do things. So, we really had to get creative in terms of how we could use things like iRacing to bridge us when the guys weren’t on the track and then really do a lot content to interest people and keep people engaged. We just did a big content play with Danny Koker with Count’s Kustoms, where he designed a car for Jimmie, and we filmed a lot of that and put that out there. We’re doing a lot of different things in terms of trying to engage people just in social and online, as opposed to being on the track. And so, from that perspective, it’s definitely been a challenge. But I’ve got to give kudos to NASCAR. I think they have led, really, of all the sports’ platforms that we work across, in terms of the way that they’ve approached making sure that the sponsors really get the value and it’s been pretty impressive; and I think we’ve actually seen our numbers grow quite a bit this year. Rating have been up. So, it’s been great from all of those aspects.”
ALEX, FOR YOU, ANDREA KIND OF SET UP MY QUESTION PERFETLY – WHEN YOU HEAR YOUR SPONSOR TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH SUPPORT YOUR SPONSOR HAS FOR YOU, HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL KNOWING YOU WERE CHOOSE FOR THIS POSITION IN THE ORGANIZATION?
ALEX BOWMAN: “Yeah, it’s definitely a big confidence booster for me. To know that Mr. Hendrick has faith in me and our partners at Ally have faith in me as well, it means the world to me. I think obviously getting the No. 88 back in victory lane was a big part of that and I feel like being able to show my work ethic. And I had to earn that, it wasn’t given. To have Mr. Hendrick have that much faith in me and have noticed everything that I’m doing is really special and I’m very appreciative for it.”
THAT PHOTO THAT WENT OUT IN THE RELEASE YESTERDAY, THERE LOOKED LIKE THERE WAS SOME ATTITUDE IN YOUR POSE AND YOUR STANCE THERE. IS THAT SOMETHING THAT WE CAN EXPECT – THIS TAKE CHARGE TYPE OF ATTITUDE GOING FORWARD?
ALEX BOWMAN: “Yeah, I’m here to win races. I’m not here to hang out, make friends, hang out in the bus lot and do all that. I’m here to win and that’s really all there is to it. So, whatever it takes to get that done, I’m willing to do and I’m really excited for the future.”
JUST REPRESENTING ARIZONA, ESPECIALLY JUST TO HEAR YOUR STORY ABOUT ALMOST CALLING IT QUITS AND GOING BACK TO COLLEGE, WHAT’S IT MEAN TO REPRESENT ARIZONA THROUGH ALL THAT?
ALEX BOWMAN: “Yeah, it’s really cool. There are a lot of racecar drivers from Arizona over the course of the years that were extremely successful. Maybe not particularly in NASCAR, but throughout open wheel stuff and other forms of racing. I feel like there were some really big names and I don’t want to take away from that at all. I think I’m the first driver from Arizona to win a Cup race, so that’s something that means a lot to me. It’s something that’s really cool, just considering everybody that’s come from there and how many great racecar drivers have. It’s cool to represent Arizona. Obviously, there are some more Arizona guys in the Cup Series with (Michael) McDowell, but it’s really cool, for sure.”
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