NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
JUNE 23, 2022
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY MUSIC CITY CAMARO ZL1, met with the media via teleconference in advance of the NASCAR Cup Series race weekend at Nashville Superspeedway. Press Conference Transcript:
YOUR SPONSOR ALLY, IT’S A BIG WEEKEND FOR THEM. GIVE US A QUICK OVERVIEW OF HOW YOU’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO THE WEEKEND AND WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE ALLY SO INVOLVED IN NOT ONLY THE NASHVILLE MARKET, BUT ALSO IN THIS EVENT.
“Yeah, for sure. It’s always cool to have Ally be the title sponsor of the race this weekend. Last year, I feel like we definitely underperformed at Nashville. It was a bummer for it being the Ally 400, so we’re all in on trying to get our race car better. Anything Ally does, they are all in on. There’s a lot going on, whether it’s at the race track, Ole Red or wherever they’ve got me going. I’m excited for all of the weekend’s activities and just trying to do our best to put on a good show and get the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet in victory lane.”
WHAT KIND OF PRESSURE IS THERE, IF ANY, ON YOU WHEN ALLY IS SO HEAVILY INVOLVED IN THE WEEKEND?
“It’s not like there’s an overbearing pressure; certainly not from the outside at least. I think just for me, anything that they do, you want to do well. Anytime that JB and Andrea are there or really anybody from Ally are there – you want to run well. For them to have their name on everything there, I really want to run well and I want to get the Ally car in victory lane for that race; for any race, but just a little bit extra this weekend. There’s no pressure from Ally or anybody at Hendrick Motorsports, it’s just I want to run well for selfish reasons when it’s the Ally 400.”
WHAT’S IT LIKE AS A DRIVER WHEN YOU’VE LINED UP WITH A SPONSOR THAT BELIEVES IN YOU – WANTS TO WORK WITH YOU, WANTS TO PROMOTE YOU AND SEND YOU ALL OVER NASHVILLE?
“It’s been really cool. They have been amazing to work with. I’m not going to lie to you, when Mr. Hendrick told me that I was driving the No. 48, I was super nervous. I didn’t know how it was going to go. I didn’t know anybody at Ally yet. I just didn’t know how it was going to go. It has been awesome. Everybody there has been awesome to work with. Anything that we’ve done – whether it’s the animal shelter stuff, the sprint car stuff, whatever they’ve been a part of – they’ve been amazing.
For this weekend, kind of going all over Nashville, is going to be really cool. I’m just excited. They are always on their game. They do things the right way. They’re really fun to work with.”
WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE RIGHT NOW HEADING INTO THE 17TH RACE OF THE SEASON?
“I don’t think we’re quite where we want to be. I think we’ve had a rough couple of weeks. Sonoma, we had a way better race car than where we finished. We got caught up when the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) spun on that last restart. Gateway wasn’t pretty for any of the HMS cars and I think we’ve got a little bit of work to do. I’m looking forward to seeing how we come out after the week off and the little bit of a reset we’ve had. Hopefully we’re really strong in Nashville. Like I said, we struggled there last year, so there’s a lot of pressure from myself to run well and hopefully we’re good. I think a lot can change after a weekend off, so we’ll see where we stack up.”
IT SEEMS LIKE THIS YEAR, MAYBE MORE SO THAN YEARS PAST, YOU NEVER KNOW WHO’S GOING TO HIT ON IT WEEK-TO-WEEK. OBVIOUSLY, THERE’S BEEN SOME CONSISTENT DRIVERS UP THERE. THE WORD ‘UNPREDICTABLE’ SEEMS TO BE USED A LOT THIS YEAR. AS A DRIVER, IS THAT FUN OR IS THAT SOMETHING THAT’S KIND OF FRUSTRATING?
“I think it feels pretty normal to me. It doesn’t feel extraordinarily different. I definitely think the way the season has been – like I feel like the HMS cars were really good to start and some other guys have caught up here recently. The Trackhouse cars have been really, really strong. So, just trying to understand where we’re at has been interesting. But for us, it’s pretty normal. I’d say the biggest thing is the lack of being able to change things in practice is a little bit weird. We have some practice back, but we can’t really make changes and change necessarily what we want to with the race car. So, just trying to unload the best that we can so we can make the most out of those practices and be as close as we can be.
It definitely seems like there’s not one guy that’s kind of taking off with the season, so it’s kind of wide open still. Hopefully when the Playoffs swing around, we’re in the best shape possible.”
YOU SAID THERE’S NOT REALLY ONE GUY THAT HAS RAN AWAY WITH IT. IT SEEMS LIKE, IN TERMS OF PLAYOFF POINTS, THAT’S KIND OF THE SAME THING. THERE’S REALLY NOT A BIG GAP FROM ANYBODY. I WOULD ASSUME AS OF RIGHT NOW, THAT’S A GOOD THING AS WE START TO GET CLOSER TO THE PLAYOFFS?
“Yeah, I guess. We’ve seen in previous years; guys rack up a ton of wins and a ton of Playoff points to lean on. Typically, they’re the best guys in the Playoffs anyways. So it’s a little bit interesting, but yeah I think it’s pretty wide open right now. I think you’re going to have teams get hot and then kind of cool off even between now and the Playoffs. I think so much changes with this race car. It’s not like the old car where we’re nit-picking things, making little changes and little developments. We can’t change parts, but it’s big swings I feel like as we learn the race car and as teams get the race cars better. It’s big improvements and I think it’s going to continue to be that way.”
NEXT GEN HAS BEEN PRAISED THIS YEAR FOR ITS PERFORMANCES ON MOST OF THE 1.5-MILE TRACKS. HAS THE RACING LOOKED AS GOOD TO YOU BEHIND THE WHEEL AS IT SEEMINGLY HAS TO EVERYONE WATCHING?
“Yes and no. I think it drives worse, which makes it a better race. Like I think at the short tracks, Martinsville in particular, it drove way too well and it made for a bad race. The 1.5-mile tracks, it seems to race really well. It definitely isn’t as comfortable to drive as the old car, but the rules package that we’ve ended up with and where everything shook out, it’s put on really good races.
I think that’s been really good. I’m surprised that the short tracks weren’t better. I kind of would have predicted that they would have been great. But it’s good to see the 1.5-mile tracks racing as well as they have.”
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS HAS ONE WIN IN THE LAST EIGHT RACES AND YOU GUYS STARTED OUT SO STRONG. DO YOU FEEL LIKE AS A GROUP AS A WHOLE, YOU’RE NOT GETTING THE RESULTS THAT YOU WANTED THE LAST COUPLE OF MONTHS?
“Yeah – I think if I could say what it was or what exactly we were fighting, we could fix it. I don’t think we’re bad by any means. I think we’re just not as great as we were in the beginning of the year. I think some other guys have just caught up and we’ve got to do our homework to get back ahead of the pack. We’re all working on it. There’s a lot of smart people at HMS. I know a lot of them rely on your (Bob Pockrass) tweets for getting weekly information and that helps us out with knowing where the resin is going to be and stuff like that. But there’s a lot of really smart people that are head down and working on making our race cars better each and every week.”
CONSIDERING THE HEAT EXPECTED THIS WEEKEND, ARE YOU MORE CONCERNED ABOUT YOURSELF AS A DRIVER OR CERTAIN PARTS AND PIECES ON THE CAR THAT HAVE NOT BEEN TESTED YET IN EXTREME HEAT?
“I’m a whiny race car driver, so I’m concerned about me myself. I think the parts and pieces on the race car should be fine. I think really the biggest failure we’ve seen lately was the brake issue with the No. 4 (Kevin Harvick) car. I think all of that should be OK. The car should be fine. It’s definitely going to be hot, but I think that’s what we all train for and all expect. Cup racing in the summer is a very uncomfortable environment and the Next Gen car has made that environment way more uncomfortable, but just have to keep training. I think that stuff pays off and hopefully I’m on the right side of that.”
YOU CAN RELATE TO WHAT ROSS CHASTAIN HAS BEEN THROUGH WHERE YOU’VE REALLY HAD TO GRIND TO GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO END UP WITH AN ELITE ORGANIZATION. HE’S HAVING THAT MOMENT AND WHEN THINGS KIND OF CLICKED FOR YOU AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AND YOU GOT THAT FIRST WIN, WHAT WAS THE RELIEF AND WHAT DO YOU THINK HE’S GOING THROUGH?
“Yeah, definitely. We definitely have somewhat similar career paths. I think he drove some really good trucks and stuff; and had a lot of opportunities. But I think he’s been great this year. He’s super aggressive and I think this race car fits him really well. He’s been doing a really good job. Definitely had some drama around it and some people fired up, but I’m happy to see him win some races. I think he’s a super talented race car driver, so it’s cool to see.
For me personally, it was a big roller coaster. I got signed to Hendrick Motorsports and almost won some races in 2016 and then sat on the couch. In 2018, when I finally got that full-time ride, it was a really frustrating year. It didn’t come right away. But when it did come, like in 2019, we still weren’t phenomenal. Winning at Chicago, we were really good. It wasn’t really until last year – we won four races last year and three within a really short time span. It wasn’t really until that that it was like ‘we can do this every week’. It’s tough. The Cup Series is hard and when you get up, it will knock you right back down. It is always hard. There’s no being comfortable. But it’s good to see Ross (Chastain) having success.”
YOU MENTIONED ABOUT THIS CAR FITTING HIS STYLE. WE’VE SEEN PEOPLE WHERE THIS CAR DOES NOT FIT THEIR STYLE. ONE OF YOUR TEAMMATES, CHASE ELLIOTT, IS ONE OF THOSE GUYS. HE’S TALKED ABOUT IT AND ALAN (GUSTAFSON) HAS TALKED ABOUT IT. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE LEARNING PERIOD OR JUST GETTING ACCLIMATED IS? SOME OF THESE GUYS ARE GOING TO EMBRACE IT, THEY’RE GOING TO DIVE ALL IN. IS IT AN AGGRESSIVE DRIVER OR WHAT IS THE KIND OF STYLE THAT REALLY SUITS THIS?
“Ross’s (Chastain) style somewhat seems to be hitting people, which this car is obviously pretty tough. But aside from that, he’s just really aggressive. I think he can drive the heck out of. Obviously the Trackhouse cars are really, really good, so that doesn’t hurt either. But I think everybody is a head down, all-in and embracing it. There’s nobody that’s like ‘oh I don’t like this car; I’m not going to try’. Everybody knows that this is what we’ve got and know we have to figure it out. We’re just trying to figure it out quicker than the next guy.”
WHERE ARE YOU ON IT? HAVE YOU EMBRACED IT, ARE YOU DIGGING IT? DO YOU ENJOY DRIVING IT? HAVE YOU FOUND YOUR GROOVE FINALLY WITH THIS CAR?
“I think so. I’m trying my best to figure it out. It’s definitely been a learning curve. It’s just different. At some places, it’s more different than we thought it would be; and at other places, it’s really good. So just trying to figure it out. Going to a lot of places that we haven’t been with it yet is still the biggest question mark. We don’t have a notebook to lean on, so just trying to learn the most we can the quickest that we can.”
NASHVILLE SUPERSPEEDWAY IS A UNIQUE INTERMEDIATE TRACK, BOTH IN DISTANCE AND RACING SURFACE. A LOT OF TEAMS HAD BRAKE ISSUES THERE LAST YEAR. HOW IS THE NO. 48 TEAM APPROACHING THIS UNIQUE TRACK WITH THIS BRAND NEW CAR? HOW DO YOU THINK IT’S GOING TO PLAY OUT?
“I don’t know – I think it’s going to look like a 1.5-mile race. I feel like the race is going to be pretty good. I’m excited that they sprayed the resin higher on the race track than they have in the past. I think that will be a help. Just trying to be as prepared as we can be. Like I said, we don’t have any notes. We can kind of correlate notes to last year, but that’s kind of tough. Hopefully we’re on the right side of it.
But yeah, I don’t really anticipate any brake issues or anything like guys had last year. I think we’re in a better place and it should be pretty good.”
WITH ALL THE NON-STOP RACING THAT’S GOING TO KICK OFF THIS WEEKEND IN NASHVILLE TO THE END OF THE SEASON AT PHOENIX, HOW DO YOU PLAN TO KEEP YOURSELF REFRESHED, FIT, BUT ALSO NOT TOO BURNT OUT DURING THIS STRETCH?
“Yeah, the one off weekend for the whole year was an interesting move, for sure. I’m the super smart person that spent it just racing more (laughs). It’s definitely a tough, grueling season. It’s hard to complain about from a driver’s point of view when you see what the team guys are going through. I think it’s harder on them than anybody. I’m appreciative of all the hard work that the teams and their families put in. It’s a long year and a tough grind from here on out.
From my side of things, just have to keep steady. Train hard, work hard, during the week. The best way to stay refreshed and to not get burnt out is to run well. We’re going to do our best to make that happen.”
Team Chevy high-resolution racing photos are available for editorial use.
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