NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
AUTOTRADER ECHOPARK AUTOMOTIVE 500
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 27, 2020
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 ACRONIS CAMARO ZL1 1LE, met with media via teleconference to discuss how he’s staying prepared to race during the rain delays, how the track conditions will change once racing gets back underway at Texas Motor Speedway, and more. Transcript:
WE JUST GOT OFF WITH JOEY LOGANO – HE WAS SAYING THAT HE’S EXTREMELY BORED RIGHT NOW. HE SAID HE’S WILLING TO DRIVE THE JET DRYER. I’M WONDERING WHERE YOU’RE AT RIGHT NOW, WHAT YOU’VE BEEN DOING DURING THIS DOWNTIME? ALSO, HOW ARE YOUR NERVES?
“Yeah, should we just race the jet dryers? Are there enough of them for everybody? We could race the rental cars – there’s all kinds of stuff we could race here. Maybe just count points on that and send us home (laughs). It’s definitely boring – painful for everybody. Obviously, everybody is working hard to try to dry the race track and the weather just isn’t cooperating. So, bummed for everybody here. It’s the same for all of us – we’re all just sitting around, whether it’s NASCAR officials, track officials, or drivers. We’re all kind of in the same boat together.”
“Nerves – I’m all good. I’m just hanging out. I haven’t really done much of anything. Just been on my computer. I went over to the gym underneath the suites and ran a little bit on a treadmill. But, yeah, feeling good. The car’s really fast – just want to get back to racing.”
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN A SITUATION WHERE YOU’VE HAD TO WAIT THIS LONG?
“No, not that I can think of. I’m trying to think – maybe quarter-midget racing as a kid, just because you don’t have jet dryers and stuff, and it takes pretty long to dry. I’ve been completely rained out and cancelled, but I’ve never sat somewhere this long. I don’t think we’ve ever had a forecast look this bad. It’s definitely a bummer.”
NO MATTER WHEN THIS RACE GETS IN, WILL YOU FEEL BEHIND FOR MARTINSVILLE?
“I’ll let you know when I find out if I’m going to get my sim time back that I was supposed to have this afternoon. That’s really the only thing that I feel behind on that I’m bummed out about missing. I feel like I can do all my normal prep work here. So, as far as being prepared, I’m not really missing anything, aside from the time I was going to spend in the simulator this afternoon. Hopefully we get home and I can get back in it somehow, but those schedules are hard to get and put out way in advance. So, I doubt that I’ll get back in it. That’s definitely a bummer.”
HOW LONG IS A TYPICAL SESSION IN THERE?
“I feel like I was going to be in there from like 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., so probably just two hours. Typically, I’m in there for either two- or three-hours sessions.”
WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW IF YOU’RE GOING TO RACE IN TWO HOURS, TOMORROW OR WHENEVER, HOW DO YOU STAY SORT OF PREPARED, PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY, AS FAR AS I ASSUME YOU CAN’T JUST EAT A BUNCH OF CANDY AND COOKIES. NOT THAT JOSH WISE WOULD LET YOU ANYWAY, BUT HOW DO YOU SORT OF STAY READY TO GO AT ANYTIME?
“Well, I had In-N-Out for dinner and pizza for lunch. So, the diet is out the window. I’m out of food, out of clothes, out of everything. I don’t know – it’s hard to feel like we’re going to race anytime soon, just with how wet it is. At times, I feel like ‘man, the track’s got to be getting dry because I can’t see it misting or raining from the bus’. But then I think Bob (Pockrass) tweeted the link of the track camera – maybe that was you or somebody tweeted the link to the track camera. I clicked on that and I’m like ‘oh no, it’s still wet’. I don’t know – I’ve really just been sitting around. I ran a little bit earlier and I feel like that helped kind of clear my head up a little bit. But it’s been pretty dang boring.”
“For me, I think it doesn’t grow. I’m really confident in our race car for when we get back going. Obviously, we got the lead there and drove away from the field a little bit, so I know we have a really fast car. So, I’m really looking forward to that. Obviously, we’re buried a little bit on the track position now, but I’m just ready to go. I don’t know – I really haven’t done anything abnormal or different, besides kind of sit around and just work from my computer and work from inside the bus. Just trying to control the things I can control and the weather is not one of them, unfortunately.”
JUST WONDERING – I ASKED JOEY LOGANO ABOUT THE CONDITIONS TO EXPECT ONCE THIS THING GETS DRY. HE SAID THE PJ1 TYPICALLY NEEDS HEAT TO BE EFFECTIVE. WHAT KIND OF A CURVEBALL IS THAT GOING TO THROW ONCE THIS THING GETS GOING?
“Definitely a big one. It needs heat to get going, but the biggest problem is how treacherous it is at this race track before it gets going. And the way they laid it all the way to the wall, the first guy that gets up in it is probably going to crash. So, it’s going to be really treacherous and eventually, as it comes in, it will be the place to be again. It kind of got that way as we got rolling. But it’s going to be treacherous. I feel like out of the PJ1 was just a little freer than in the PJ1. So, probably everybody will be a little looser trying to run the bottom. Hopefully it gets moved up quick, but yeah, it’s going to be treacherous. Hard to navigate that because obviously it’s not a visual thing, it’s a feel thing, and you kind of just have to work it in. You want to wait for other people to do it. It’s pretty tough. Hopefully we’re on the good side of it.”
TAKE ME BACK TO 2014 WHEN YOU SIGNED WITH BK RACING. YOU HAD THE FAST SEASON IN XFINITY IN 2013, HAD SOME SUCCESS. BUT IF I REMEMBER RIGHT, I DON’T THINK THAT WAS REALLY MUCH OF AN OPPORTUNITY. CAN YOU TAKE ME THROUGH HOW YOU ENDED UP AT BK RACING AND HOW DO YOU FEEL THAT OPPORTUNITY HELPED LEAD YOU ALONG IN THIS PATH THAT HAS WOUND IT’S WAY TO ENDING UP IN THIS RIDE AND, NEXT YEAR, THE NO. 48 CAR?
“Yeah, honestly, one team called and didn’t ask for money. A lot of teams called and only one didn’t ask for money. And I didn’t have any money. That’s where I ended up and it was do that or sit on a couch. There wasn’t an opportunity to return to the Xfinity ride that I had in 2013. I feel like we really did a lot with a little in 2013 and outperformed where we should have been and did a really good job. We had a really good group of people and outperformed what we had financially.”
“Going into the next year, I didn’t want to go Cup racing. I wasn’t ready to go Cup racing. I wanted to try to win races. Unfortunately, I needed to make a living at the same time and the only opportunity to do that was to go Cup racing. I did all that I could – I learned a lot, I got to make a lot of mistakes with nobody watching. I didn’t have much fun. I put a lot of pressure on myself and the pressure became trying to run top-25, and just trying to do better than the car was supposed to. And we did every now and then. But, obviously, yeah – a crazy set of circumstances to go from that to driving the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports. Driving for Tommy Baldwin the following year, that deal falling apart. Then, driving the simulator and getting called to fill in for Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) – it was a pretty wild couple of years there and definitely a lot of very uncertain times and stressful times. But to answer your question, one team killed and didn’t ask for money and that’s where I went.”
ALSO, AS YOU SAID, YOU HAD SOME RESULTS THAT WERE BETTER THAN THE EQUIPMENT IN THAT FIRST YEAR. AS YOU NOTED, YOU WEREN’T READY FOR CUP. IN ONE SENSE, HOW DID YOU NOT WASH OUT? THOSE ARE PRETTY HIGH-STACKED ODDS AGAINST ANY YOUNG DRIVER WITH MINIMAL EXPERIENCE. WAS THERE SOMEBODY IN THE GARAGE THAT HELPED YOU OR WAS IT JUST A MATTER OF SCRATCHING AND CLAWING YOUR WAY AND JUST SURVIVING THAT YEAR SO PEOPLE RECOGNIZED YOU FOR WHAT YOU DID?
“I feel like there were definitely a few guys that offered advice. I was pretty down early in the season and Jimmie Johnson was the first guy to come and talk to me. Just be like ‘man, you’re doing a really good job with that car’ just out of nowhere. I still have no clue why he did that. I talked to him about it a couple weeks ago and he was like ‘man, I just came up to lap you and you were completely sideways, driving the wheels off of it, and I felt like I needed to say something and tell you that you were doing a good job’. He was really supportive.”
“Kurt Busch, I remember I think we were at Indy or somewhere like that, he just came up and started giving me advice. So, guys like that, their advice was really appreciated. I think the ‘how’ is just that I didn’t give up. I refused to give up. I didn’t have a backup plan, so I couldn’t give up. I wasn’t like ‘oh, I can go do this and I’ll be fine’. It was like, ‘you’ve got to keep doing this or you’re going to have to find another job and another way to pay for food’. So, yeah I didn’t give up and I refused to let it beat me. I felt pretty dang beat in the beginning of 2016 when I lost my ride. Obviously, had some races lined up with JR Motorsports to try to go and do that and try to win. And we ran really well in all those races, but obviously the opportunity to fill in for Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) is what got me here and it was a crazy set of circumstances. A lot of luck and really just never giving up.”
YOU’VE BEEN TEASING US WITH PICTURES OF A WINGED-SPRINT CAR AND TAKING LAPS AROUND THE DIRT TRACK. WHAT’S THE LATEST?
“Arizona in January. I’m not driving it – that’s the first question I get. I’m not driving it. Just quarantine boredom and decided to build a winged-sprint car. It’s been a lot of fun. We went and tested on Friday and CJ (Leary) was really fast right off the bat – as fast as anybody that’s tested during the day there. We were going pretty good. The track was right through the middle, not real worked in, so I was like ‘man, if there was ever a time to make some laps in one of these things, that would be now’. So, I went and made some laps. I think I ran like 7 or 8-laps and had a ton of fun. We’re going to start racing it here soon and have lot of fun doing it. That’s why I do that deal – to really just have fun and no expectations. I have a really, really good group of people that help me on those cars. We’ve never lost a party when we go dirt racing, so that’s what we’re going to go do this winter.”
IS CJ LEARY GOING TO BE YOUR FULL-TIME DRIVER?
“Yeah, I mean full-time when the car runs. I’m sure he’s still going to try and chase the USAC deal and do the non-wing stuff like normal. So, yeah we’ll run when we can. I have no clue – I mean we’ve pointed out three races that we’re going to run so far and they’re all in January. So, haven’t looked at any schedules any further out than that. Maybe go to Volusia in February and hit all those. But, yeah as far as I know, just going to race when we can.”
DID YOU HAVE TO GET PERMISSION FROM THE BOSS TO RUN LAPS OVER AT THE DIRT TRACK?
“Well, it was going to be one of those like ‘don’t tell anybody’ things. And then I posted a video on the internet and I was like ‘oh man, that probably wasn’t smart’. Nothing went wrong and I ran like 7 laps. I sent a video to Jeff Gordon and he said ‘that looks awesome’. So, yeah – I’ll ask for forgiveness (laughs).”
DO YOU PLAN ON RUNNING CHILI BOWL WITH YOU AND CJ LEARY THIS YEAR?
“No. So, CJ (Leary) will be there in my car and Jake Swanson is driving the car that I normally drive. Last year got pretty difficult between running the Race of Champions with CJ and me running, not having a crew chief, me crew chiefing CJ – it was just a lot of work for me to drive one of the cars and crew chief the other car. So, I decided honestly, I don’t have much business at Chili Bowl, just with only racing those cars once a year and a big lack of experience. The program kind of needed two driver that could help each other, instead of CJ trying to describe to me everything that I’m doing wrong every time I’m on the race track. Jake Swanson is going to drive and I think the two of them can really help each other, and try to put two cars in the show instead of just one.”
A COUPLE OF THE OTHER DRIVERS SAID THEY WERE PLAYING VIDEO GAMES DURING THE DELAY. I KNOW YOU SAID THAT YOU’VE BEEN WORKING DURING ALL THIS. DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING LIKE A NINTENDO SWITCH OR PLAYSTATION ON HAND IN CASE THAT’S WHAT YOU WANT TO DO?
“I sure wish I did because I wouldn’t be working right now if I did (laughs). I don’t have anything. I have my laptop, my cell phone and cable TV. That’s about it, which has become expensive because I’ve just been ordering race car parts. Yeah, I don’t have anything, but I sure wish I did.”
YOU GOT UP FRONT AND TOOK ADVANCE OF THE 4 (KEVIN HARVICK)’S MISFORTUNE. GOT UP FRONT, LED SOME LAPS, SO WHAT GIVES YOU THE CONFIDENCE THAT YOU CAN MAINTAIN THAT MOMENTUM GOING INTO TONIGHT, TOMORROW OR WHENEVER WE RACE AGAIN? WHAT GIVES YOU THE CONFIDENCE THAT THE NO. 88 WILL REMAIN CONSISTENT OUT THERE?
“Just how good the car was. I was so happy with the race car. I was nervous going in, just because this is a place we’ve really struggled at in the past. We’ve really only had one really strong race here. Was really just looking forward to getting here and seeing how the car was going to be, and it was just really good off the bat. So, that gives me a lot of confidence. We were a little free, so I feel like the race track kind of gripping up will help us and we’ll just have to go from there. Obviously, the temperatures dropped tremendously. We’re now 18th instead of leading, so that’s something we’re going to have to overcome. Just looking forward to getting going.”
I THINK THAT ONE RUN YOU MENTIONED WAS AT THIS EVENT LAST SEASON. IT WAS A FIFTH-PLACE RUN FOR YOU GUYS. DID YOU TAKE ANY LESSONS FROM THAT CAR? DID YOU TAKE ANY LESSONS FROM THAT SETUP GOING INTO THIS WEEKEND?
“Yeah, I don’t know where we ended up exactly on setup. You would have thought that we could have taken lessons from that and been strong here earlier this year. That race, we were flat in the way – that was really rough. That was one of our worst mile-and-a-half that we’ve run in a long time. It was a cooler night that night, I believe, and I feel like we probably used some of that information. But our mile-and-a-half program has been really strong lately and I feel like we run pretty similar stuff most places we go on mile-and-a-halves. Different tire than then as well, so there’s a lot of variables that go into it. But it’s definitely good to have those notes in our notebook.”
LOOKING AT YOUR SEASON SO FAR, HOW WOULD YOU GRADE WHERE YOU GUYS ARE RIGHT NOW?
“Right now, I think we’re running great. The last two months or so have been really, really good for us. The summer was really rough and the beginning of the year was amazing. So, we’ve definitely had our fair share of ups and downs. But I would give our team a B+ or A-, just based on how well they’ve worked together. I think that’s a huge positive. Obviously, kind of falling off through the summer was painful for us all. But to see the guys buckle down and continue to work together in such a good way is really positive. I think how it’s improved lately- that’s been great. We still need to get a little better. Last week, we were right there, but not quite good enough. We need a little bit more to try to win these things. But the guys are doing a great job and we’re continuing to improve each and every week.”
HAVE YOU BEEN WATCHING OR HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS ON ANY SHOWS OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT?
“Yeah, I feel like the problem is I’ve already watched all the good Netflix stuff. So, I haven’t been watching anything. I’ve watched some YouTube videos, but honestly, I’ve been texting back and forth with my team on GroupMe quite a bit. I went and worked out a little bit. I haven’t watched like any TV shows or anything yet. I’m sure that’s going to come because I’m out of things to do. I’m out of parts to order. I got everything for a sprint car on the way and I’m definitely probably going to regret some of my financial choices here. I’m building so many race cars. But yeah, I haven’t watched anything. I wish I had something for you.”
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