NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Beyond the Cockpit: Alex Bowman New Teams and New Tricks

Alex Bowman is embarking on his second full season in the Cup series. The 21-year-old driver will pilot the No. 7 Chevrolet for Tommy Baldwin Racing. After starting out in Quarter Midgets in his formative years, he has been in the full-bodied stock car world for the last five years. Bowman finished sixth in points in the 2011 K&N East standings, fourth in the 2012 ARCA Series season standings and 11th in points in the 2013 XFINITY series.

Bowman finished sixth in the 2014 Rookie of the Year standings in the Cup series driving for BK Racing. Bowman finished 13th at Daytona in the July race for his best finish of the year and only top-15 finish. His average start in 2014 was 33.0 with an average finish of 32.6. This week he spent some time with Frontstretch to talk about his love of cars, what he’d like to race in the future and his dog’s cool new trick.

Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com – This is your second full year of Cup racing. How did you end up at Tommy Baldwin Racing for the 2015 season?

Alex Bowman – I didn’t really have anything figured out. It has only been three or four weeks now. I got a call from Tommy saying he needed someone to drive the No. 7 and asked if I’d be interested. I went and sat down with him and we were able to put something together. It definitely came together late. Everything is still just coming together, but I’m really looking forward being a part of Tommy Baldwin Racing. It is going to be a good time for sure and I really feel like we can turn some heads.

Credit: Mike Neff
Alex Bowman embarks on his sophomore season with a new team in Tommy Baldwin Racing. (Credit: Mike Neff)

Neff – Are you looking forward to working with Bono Manion as a crew chief?

Bowman – Absolutely, the little bit that I have been around Bono so far it has been a lot of fun. He’s a racer. He’s not doing this to get a paycheck or anything like that. He’s doing it because he loves to race. That is the type of person that I want to surround myself with. Tommy is the same way, the whole team is really the same way. They are a bunch of racers and that is going to make my job easier because they are going to want to be there more and enjoy what they are doing more. It is always good to be around people who share that mentality.

Neff – That was going to be the next question. What little bit I know of you from interacting with you and what I hear from people around you is that you are a racer, more than a driver. Some people may not know the difference there, but being a racer is something good if you are in that crowd at Tommy Baldwin. That is a group of guys that they have assembled over there that are in it because they love to race, not just collect a paycheck. I have to think you’re pretty excited to be around a group like that and see how they can develop your career further.

Bowman – I think it really comes down to the top. Tommy is a racer who just wants to run well. He’s not running the team to make money, he’s running it to try and make it better every year and every week. I know he’s going to do absolutely everything he can to give me the best shot at running well. Bono is going to do the same and all of the guys in the shop are going to do the same thing. It is huge for me to be a part of that.

Neff – How does a kid from Tucson, Arizona, which is a hotbed for open wheel sprint and midget racing, end up running full-sized stock cars in NASCAR?

Bowman – Yeah, you’d think that I’d end up in open wheel. There is a lot of it out there and that is what I ran growing up. I ran a lot of USAC stuff. I remember when I was a little kid I used to go watch the Winter Heat series at Tuscon Raceway Park. I watched Biffle and Hornaday and a lot of the names that I looked up to as a kid. I started watching stock cars, and then as I got older I started watching the open wheel cars. I was a big Josh Wise and JJ Yeley fan. I loved running a Midget. Driving a Midget was more fun than anything I’d ever done. I was at a point, running USAC stuff, that there was no way I could make a living doing that. I had an opportunity to go stock car racing and I’m glad I took it.

Neff – You have several wins in the ARCA series. What is it like winning at Salem Speedway?

Bowman – That one in particular was really special. We were really, really fast. I have said it to Paul Andrews 100 times. The car that they take there, that particular chassis for Cunningham Motorsports, if they take that car there and you don’t win in it, you are doing something wrong. That car was so good, all day. We broke the front swaybar arm with 50 laps to go and still won the race. The thing was incredible. We put 10 seconds on the field in about 30 laps. It was on a rail. I think that was more race car than driver. I was just holding the steering wheel. That thing was amazing. That is a special place to win at for sure.

Neff – Just driving a car with a broken swaybar at Salem sounds insane, let alone winning the race.

Bowman – I got into a lapped car on the very last run. Thankfully we were fast enough and I’d built up a pretty sizable lead at that point. I think Frank Kimmel was running second. He ran me down and got to within a couple of car lengths back, but I had saved a little bit for the last 10 laps and drove back away from him a little bit. To beat Frank there was not exactly the most popular thing I don’t think, I think Salem, Indiana loves Frank Kimmel, but it definitely felt good.

Neff – Away from the track, I know you have an affiliation with St. Jude Childrens’ Research Hospital. How did you get tied in with them?

Bowman – Just through some family friends. It was always something where, if we didn’t have anything going on the car, I’d rather put something on the hood that is something that is a good cause than go to the race track with a blank hood. We had some family friends there and we started putting St. Jude on the car and we raised quite a bit of money for them. There were a couple of races that we won that they could definitely see the value of us having the logo on the hood and how it got them a bunch of donations. It was really cool to raise money for some amazing kids. We’ve had some kids at the race track. When I was running the K&N East Series we had some kids at Loudon and they didn’t care about me, they just wanted to meet Travis Pastrana. Being able to do that was really special.

Neff – When you aren’t at the race track what do you like to do for fun?

Bowman – I am always stuck working on my cars and they are always broken. I’m always causing more headaches for myself with them. I have a 911 Turbo that I have been building and some other stuff that I have built in the past that I am kind of getting rid off and going in a different direction with. This winter I was in my garage pretty much the whole winter working on my 911 and I got ready to leave for Daytona and it broke again so it is sitting there broken.

Neff – Is this a frame off restoration or are you just patching it up the best you can?

Bowman – It is a 2001 so it isn’t real old. I have put on an all track prep suspension. Fully adjustable coil over shocks, control arms and all of that kind of stuff. I put on bigger turbos, bigger injectors and all that good stuff. I think they make 400 horsepower stock and I’m pushing 800 horsepower now so I’ve pretty much doubled the horsepower on it. I’ve done a bunch of stuff to make it really light. Big brakes and the like. It is just something fun to tinker with. I’ll never get to use it. I drive it on the street. I’m never home enough to take it to a race track. It is a really fun street car. I’ve always been a car person. More than anything, I think driving a race car, I’m more of a car person than a race car driver. It is something fun. I’m thinking about building a drift car next. We’ll see what happens with that.

Neff – You mention going in a new direction. Is that two wheels or a different four wheel interest?

Bowman – Now that I’m paired up with Chevrolet I really want to get a truck. I definitely want to get a Silverado, I think those are awesome trucks. Doing a couple of things. We’re going to build two cars to take to the Chili Bowl next year and try my hand at that. I’ve run there twice. Probably going to halfway build my own chassis and go from there. Also, I want to build a drift car and run that during the off-season. Just have fun with it. The whole drift community has so much more fun than any other people I’ve been around. It is a blast to do, the cars are awesome, they make ridiculous amounts of horsepower. Formula Drift cars, there are some out there that make 1,300 horsepower. They are incredible and I want to drive one. The easiest way for me to drive one is to build one so I think that is the plan.

Neff – What is your favorite kind of music?

Bowman – I’m extremely open when it comes to music. I’ve been on a rock kick lately, moreso than I have been in the last couple of years. I went to see Amberlin at the Fillmore during the off-season. That was a really, really good show. That is what I’ve been on lately.

Neff – Your favorite food is Italian food. Is that pizza or pasta?

Bowman – Both, I live on 115 in Cornelius and there is a little hole in the wall called Mama’s Pizza I think. It is two minutes from my house and I 100 percent attribute the 12 pounds I gained this winter to their food. It is way too good. They need to never let me back in there. I am there way too often. Their meatball subs are killer, their pizza is killer, their pasta is killer, everything is just amazing.

Neff – Sounds like you need to secure a sponsorship deal with them, although I doubt Bono will be very pleased about you adding 12 pounds.

Bowman – Yes, although the good news is, the heavier I am, I am over the closest weight break. NASCAR evens it out for you so me putting on a couple of extra pounds allows us to take a couple of pounds off of the race car, although I do need to take it back off.

Neff – Have you ever tried a Mini Outlaw Sprint Kart?

Bowman – I haven’t. I’ve been to Millbridge. They look like so much fun. I’m good friends with Brandon Knupp and he has one sitting in the shop right now. It just looks ridiculous. The wing is bigger than the kart itself. I feel like the wing ratio to car is more than an Outlaw Sprint Car. They look like so much fun I want to drive one really badly.

Neff – Any fact or statistic the fans won’t learn by watching you race on Sunday?

Bowman – I have a dog named Roscoe. He’s an idiot. He is kind of funky. I got a phone call today that he farted and literally blew a bubble out of his butt. I guess that is kind of funky right? I feel like he’s probably not supposed to do that (laughs).

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Sandeep Banerjee

Good lord man, 800 hp Porsche. That’s putting your sprint car experience to work on the street.

Nice guy, fun to watch on track. Do well.

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