Alex Bowman just isn’t Jimmie Johnson. He isn’t Dale Earnhardt Jr. He’s himself, and he doesn’t need folks to check him to his predecessors any longer.
In 2018, Rick Hendrick tabbed Bowman to exchange Earnhardt within the No. 88 automotive following a formidable 10-race stint two years prior, when Earnhardt was out due to a concussion. Ever since, Bowman’s worth as a top-tier Nascar Cup Sequence driver is on the rise. The 27-year-old is now turning the web page to start out the subsequent chapter of his life as the driving force of the legendary No. 48 Chevrolet.
At this level, changing a Nascar legend doesn’t change his work ethic. However he does admit it’s fairly the respect to fill within the gap left by two Corridor of Famers.
“What issues to me goes out and successful races,” Bowman stated of creating a reputation for himself. “If I’m going out and carry out how I need to, then that may occur. That’s how I need to inform my story. I need to achieve success, fairly than have folks discuss what I’m doing or who I’m hanging out with. I’m going racing to win races.”
Bowman is moving into Johnson’s previous journey, the place he received seven Cup Sequence championships and 83 races. The 2 can’t be in contrast, identical to he by no means wished folks to place him in the identical class as Earnhardt, a two-time Daytona 500 champion.
However changing Earnhardt a number of years in the past is definitely serving to Bowman settle into his new position at Hendrick Motorsports. He’s a two-time Cup Sequence winner now, ending sixth within the championship standings in 2020.
“Going into the [No.] 88, there was plenty of strain to be like Dale,” Bowman stated. “I wasn’t going to try this. I used to be solely going to be like myself. Dale is such an enormous character.
“Not that Jimmie isn’t an enormous character, however Dale is checked out a lot due to his character. Jimmie is a good human being, a terrific particular person and one of many nicest guys within the storage. However he’s going to be remembered for his stats a ton.”
Bowman’s life received’t change a ton with the quantity swap in 2021. He’ll proceed working with crew chief Greg Ives, and the No. 88 pit crew is staying largely intact.
Now, Bowman is able to present why he deserves this journey.
“If we will constantly run how we ran within the playoffs all through the course of 2021, we may be so robust and have plenty of playoff factors going into the tip of the yr,” Bowman stated. “To be constantly robust is the most important factor for me.”
Consistency was a key for Bowman in 2020. Previous to the Covid-19 shutdown, Bowman’s No. 88 staff was a power to be reckoned with.
He received the third race of the yr at Auto Membership Speedway, main 110 of 200 laps. When Nascar returned to motion in Might, Bowman picked up the place he left off by ending runner-up within the first contest again at Darlington Raceway.
However in the summertime months, his efficiency cooled off and nothing appeared like it might go proper. With a playoff spot secured, Bowman returned close to the highest of the pylon. He earned 9 prime 10s within the ultimate 12 races, nearly clinching a spot within the championship finale.
Bowman credit his increase in efficiency along with his off-track coaching. He works out with Johnson and former driver Josh Smart to excellent his physique, and he believes it’s making a distinction.
“I pushed myself in some areas exterior of the racecar that I haven’t pushed as arduous,” Bowman stated. “It’s bodily stuff, attempting to be extra ready for races. My off-track preparations have been higher than they’ve been up to now.”
Whereas the expertise of filling in for Earnhardt did put together Bowman for the numerous repetitive questions he’ll be requested in 2021, he believes his efficiency will certainly converse for itself. Now that he’s getting into his fourth yr at Hendrick Motorsports and seventh season within the Cup Sequence, it’s his time to shine.
Bowman’s identify will now be on the windshield of the No. 48 automotive. It’s one thing he couldn’t have even imagined.
Simply 5 years in the past, Bowman was making ready to enter his second full-time season with Tommy Baldwin Racing and his third total within the Cup Sequence. All of a sudden, he noticed on Twitter that he was being changed by Regan Smith. Bowman, weeks earlier than the beginning of the 2016 Nascar season, was left and not using a journey.
Earnhardt, who actually believed in Bowman, gave him a shot to run 9 Xfinity Sequence races and it paid off. When Earnhardt couldn’t race as a consequence of his well being points, he satisfied Hendrick Motorsports to present Bowman a shot.
Whereas Bowman was admittedly anxious about his future on the time, he had a intestine feeling issues would work out properly. And so they definitely have.
“Rising up, no matter I used to be racing, I used to be successful,” Bowman stated. “It wasn’t tough. I assume, as a child, you assume that’s the way it’s going to be endlessly. My struggles have helped me respect issues much more than I’d have with out them. I actually respect the alternatives that I’ve been given. I’m a significantly better particular person due to it.”