NASCAR CUP SERIES
TOYOTA/SAVE MART 350
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
JUNE 4, 2021
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1 1LE, Teleconference Transcript
IT’S BEEN A REALLY BIG WEEK FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS WITH THE WIN IN CHARLOTTE AND A LOT OF CELEBRATING. WHAT’S IT BEEN TO BE A PART OF ALL THAT?
“Yeah, for sure. Really for the last couple of weeks, and all year, the atmosphere at Hendrick Motorsports has been pretty amazing. Lately, this week, has been really special. Sunday night was really special getting all of us together in Victory Lane and getting some photos and all that was really cool. To see Mr. Hendrick finally get to be number one on the all-time wins list was really special and I’m really glad to have been a small part of it.”
WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS BEING AS STRONG AS IT IS ACROSS THE BOARD RIGHT NOW, HOW MUCH COMPETITION AMONG THE TEAMS IS THERE, AND IF SO, HOW DO YOU BALANCE WANTING THE COMPANY TO DO WELL AS A WHOLE AND WANTING TO INSERT THE NO. 48 AS THE TOP TEAM IN THE STABLE?
“Your teammates are kind of your benchmark sometimes and you always want to beat those guys. You see that in really any type of motorsports. It’s really the only sport where you’re going directly against your teammates sometimes. Always want to run the best we can and beat everybody, right? I think Charlotte was a struggle for us. I was shocked we finished fifth. We really struggled with our race car. But it’s great to see the entire company be so strong. I know we were pushing extremely hard trying to be 1-2-3-4 at Charlotte. That would have been really special to kind of add to that night. But William (Byron) and I came up one spot short. It’s been really good. I think the inner-team competition is really friendly, especially at this point in the year. It’s only pushing us all to be better. It’s not like, a tearing each other down, type of competition. It’s like we’re racing each other for wins and the four teams are definitely pushing each other to get faster and faster.”
HOW MUCH MORE CONFIDENCE DO YOU HAVE GOING TO SONOMA?
“Yeah, going to a road course, I’m going to need the fastest pit crew on pit road to make up for my lack of road course skills. It’s great to have them. They’ve been so strong all year. Strategy is really key at Sonoma. There’s a big balance between Stage points and just trying to finish the race the strongest you can. Just trying to balance that and being a good shot to try and go win that thing. The last time we were there, we were really fast in practice. I drove off the race track, like around, in qualifying and kind of ended up 12th. And then during the race we had a power steering failure. I’m excited to get back there because I feel like that’s a road course that I can be really fast at and try to get Hendrick Motorsports another win.”
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE ALL-STAR RACE, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT IT BEING IN TEXAS? IT LOOKS LIKE A LONG SET-UP IS NOT GOING TO HELP YOU AT ALL THERE.
“It’s going to be interesting. To be honest, I’m so focused on Sonoma this week that kind of had forgotten about it until you said that. Going for a big payday there. We’ve been strong there in the past, but I guess the rules are a little bit different for that deal. Strategy is going to be key in trying to be out front. We all know how fast it goes at that place, so just trying to that the right way. We have a really fast pit crew. Like I said, I haven’t really looked at how the Stages play out, or the segments, but hopefully our pit crew gets us out first there at the end and we can drive away from them.”
LOOKING AHEAD FROM SONOMA, IS THERE ANYTHING YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN LEARN THIS WEEKEND THAT YOU CAN APPLY TO ANY OF THE REMAINING ROAD COURSE RACES THIS SEASON?
“Yeah, I think any time we go to a road course I’m trying to learn how to be a better road course racer, honestly. I feel like if you look at our race cars at Hendrick Motorsports and I feel like we have some of the best road course cars in the garage. On the No. 48 side of things, I just need to continue to learn and improve. I don’t have a road course background. I don’t have a ton of experience. I really just ran a couple of Xfinity races, and then when I got to Cup. So, just trying to continue to improve and continue to get better at all of them and build confidence to be able to attack these places.”
WHAT’S THE TOUGHEST PART OF ROAD COURSE RACING FOR YOU? IS IT LIKE BRAKING OR SHIFTING?
“All of the above (laughs). I feel like some places, the place I feel like the places that people haven’t been, and they don’t have the huge notebook at, like the first year we went to the ROVAL, we’ve been really fast there. But you know when we go to Watkins Glen or Sonoma, where these guys have been going forever, it’s hard to catch up. Just trying to really like just being confident in attacking the race track. I feel like I get pretty worried about messing up and just trying to make it to the end and end up with a solid top-10. We do that, for the most part. But just confidence in attacking the rack track.”
JEFF GORDON IS A MASTER AT ROAD COURSES. DO YOU LEAN ON HIM OR ANYBODY ELSE FOR ADVICE?
“Yeah, for sure. My first year at Hendrick I especially leaned on Jeff a lot. It’s always changing, right? The cars have changed a little bit. Jeff was so good at these places. Chase (Elliott) is extraordinary at these places. I feel like Kyle (Larson) and William (Byron) don’t get the credit they deserve because they are both super good at road courses as well. Hendrick Motorsports has three really good road course racers and then me. But I’m going my best to catch up.”
DOES CHASE ELLIOTT GIVE YOU ANY OF HIS SECRETS?
“I think Chase doesn’t think he has any secrets. I feel like it comes really naturally to him. So, I’m extremely jealous that it comes as naturally to him as it does because he is so good. Not that he’s not working hard to be that good, but it’s like it doesn’t seem as difficult for him as it is for me to go as fast. Yeah, I’m just trying to learn from him. It’s hard to hide secrets these days, just with the way the data is and everything. I’m just trying to dissect that and learn from him.”
KYLE BUSCH WAS ASKED AFTER THE CHARLOTTE RACE, WHERE HE THINKS JGR RANKS AGAINST HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS. HE BASICALLY SAID KYLE LARSON AND THE NO. 5 TEAM ARE A 10 AND WE’RE A SEVEN. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE A LITTLE BIT MORE AHEAD BECAUSE PEOPLE CAN’T PRACTICE AS MUCH AS IN PREVIOUS SEASONS?
“I don’t know. I feel it’s just the way the sport goes. We’ve seen it in the past. You’ve watched teams dominate. When I got to Hendrick Motorsports in 2018 it was ugly for us for a while. It’s great to be a part of and it’s been a lot of fun. I think we’re the best we’ve ever been since I’ve been there. And that makes going to the race track fun. You have a chance to win each and every week. But at the same time, it comes and goes. We’ve got the best in the world trying to catch us. We’ll just have to wait and see how the season plays out, but it’s been great to be a part of it this year.”
IT’S BEEN TWO YEARS SINCE THE LAST CUP RACE AT SONOMA. DO YOU EXPECT THE TRACK TO BE ANY DIFFERENT THAN WHAT IT’S BEEN, AND WILL IT AFFECT THE SET-UP OF THE CAR OR NOT?
“I think the biggest difference for us is just going back with the low downforce package. When we were there in 2019, the cars had the big splitter and the big spoiler and all that stuff. Going back without that, with less downforce on the car, it’s going to change quite a bit. We haven’t been to that track configuration with low downforce so, the first time through the carousel without downforce and all that stuff. Just trying to predict, obviously with no practice, so hopefully we nail it right. But I’ve spent a lot of time in the simulator trying to get it dialed in and hopefully we’ll be solid.”
HAS THERE BEEN ANY EXTRA SPECIAL PREPARATION FOR SONOMA LIKE SIMULATOR TIME OR LOOKING AT FILM FROM PRIOR YEARS?
“I wouldn’t say extra. It’s my job to be the most prepared I can each and every week. I feel like the team does the same thing. They are trying to be extremely prepared every week. Yes, I’ve been in the simulator a lot. Yes, I’ve watched a lot of film and all that stuff. But we do that every week. It’s the same everywhere we go. We don’t leave any stoned unturned just trying to figure everything out and be as prepared as we can be. It’s a lot of hard work, but that’s kind of the norm at Hendrick Motorsports.”
CONCERNING THE RECENT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS DOMINANCE, YOU ARE DOING THIS IN AN ERA WITH MINIMAL PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING. AND YET YOU ARE DOMINATING THE CIRCUIT. HOW PROUD OF YOU THAT WITHOUT FULL NORMALCY AND PREPARATION, THAT AS A TEAM, YOU ARE DOING THIS?
“I’m extremely proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports, from top to bottom. Everybody has worked really hard and had a couple of rough years. Last year I’ve been really strong and then to be able to fire off this year like this has been incredible. I’m just proud of everybody from the chassis shop, fab shop, engine shop, guys that sweep the floors, everybody. Everybody is giving it their all and it’s paying off. It’s cool to see, and I’m just proud of everybody in the organization.”
YESTERDAY, GM AND CHEVY BROKE GROUND ON THE NEW CHARLOTTE TECHNICAL CENTER AND SAID THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE THREE DRIVER-IN-THE-LOOP SIMULATORS WHEN IT OPENS NEXT YEAR. HOW MANY DO YOU GUYS HAVE RIGHT NOW THAT YOU’RE USING WITH CHEVY?
“We just have one. So yeah, the added simulators are definitely going to help us. Having it closer and right now, it’s a big balance between all the Chevy teams to get time in there. So having more opportunities to be in there more I think is a big gain. Being closer to us is a gain. I’m excited for that. I think it’s great. It’s awesome what Chevrolet is doing and their commitment to the sport; obviously they are a huge piece of why Hendrick Motorsports has been so strong lately. All the Chevy teams are working extremely well together. And to have that kind of backing and support from Chevrolet is awesome.”
HOW DO YOU DIVIDE TIME TO USE THE SIMULATOR? DO YOU HAVE TO BOOK TIME WITH CERTAIN TEAMS AND DRIVERS?
“Yeah, I don’t know exactly how it works. I kind of just get told hey, this is when we’re going in. But my understanding of it is that yeah, obviously you’ve got to book ahead of time and have shared time between teams and organizations and different race teams going in there. So yeah, I think that’s probably one of the bigger things about having multiples of them is just being able to be in there a little bit more.”
Team Chevy high-resolution racing photos are available for editorial use.
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