Bowman Waited His Whole Life For This, Not Worried About Not Being In The No. 88 Chevrolet Next Seas
JOLIET, Ill – Alex Bowman picked the right time to take his No. 88 Chevrolet to victory lane. On Sunday night, Bowman was passed by Kyle Larson for the lead with seven laps-to-go in the Camping World 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway, but he returned the favor two laps later and held on for his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory.
It was a statement win for the Arizona native – one that he calls validation for how his NASCAR career had gone thus far.
“I mean, it’s all I’ve wanted my whole life,” Bowman said after leading 88 laps on Sunday in Chicago. “I feel like this is a lot of validation for a lot of people that said we couldn’t do this. So proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports, AXALTA, the Hendrick engine shop. My guys have worked so hard.
Alex Bowman celebrates in victory lane after winning Sunday’s Camping World 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway
“I feel like everybody is always — I feel like people question me a lot, and if I deserve to be here or not. Just based on the fact that I don’t have a big resume to fall back on. I’ve had a lot of great opportunities throughout my career, but when we went stock car racing, those opportunities got pretty slim.
“You know, just getting a Cup win is something that kind of relaxes me in the sense that I feel like I can finally say I deserve to be here. But there were definitely sometimes I was very worried about it. It made going to the racetrack not a lot of fun. But glad we’re having a lot of fun now.”
Bowman’s drive to get back by Larson was fueled by his desire to not finish second anymore. See, he had a string of three straight runner-up finishes back in late April and early May. When Larson got by on Lap 260, this time, Bowman wasn’t going to let him pull away. He knew that he had a good car capable of winning and knew it was his turn to win instead.
“I was just tired of running second,” Bowman continued. “I don’t want to do that anymore. I feel like this is the last box, aside from going and chasing a championship, that I needed personally for myself to validate my career. I feel like obviously there’s a lot more left to accomplish, but this is always what I hear is you haven’t won a race.
“I think even Chad said something about me not winning a race, so Chad Knaus, there, we went and did it. Everybody can stop giving me crap; we finally did it.”
Alex Bowman crosses the finish line first in Sunday’s Camping World 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway
Bowman says that the first couple of runner-ups actually had him excited, especially with how the start of their season went. But, after the third one, it went from excitement to being the first loser.
“You know, I think the first two I was pretty pumped, right, like Talladega our best finish of the whole year until then was 11th, and we went and ran second, I was thrilled. And then Dover we started last and ran second. I was pretty excited.
“Kansas we gave one away, and it was on me, so I was pretty hard on myself. I feel like I’m not super hard on those around me. I’m just really hard on myself, which is probably something I need to work on at times. But just — it’s one of those things where nothing has been given to me and I feel like — like Dale says, I have a chip on my shoulder that I need to drop. I probably still haven’t dropped it. But it’s just one of those things that I feel responsible for how we run on the weekends, and this is really all I have. I have a great group of friends and family at home, but it’s not a regular — it’s not a job to me, it’s my life, and how I run on Sundays kind of dictates my whole week more than it should probably. And Greg and I have had this conversation, it probably does for both of us. We just care a lot.
“Those seconds weren’t bad, but there were definitely some worse weeks than that, but definitely pretty hard on myself.”
Now that he has his win, Bowman has peace and comfort. He has been assured that he will return to Hendrick Motorsports next year despite Nationwide stepping away as his full time sponsor at seasons end. When he found out about losing a bulk of his funding and combine that with how badly he and his team were struggling, he wondered how much longer he’d be with the storied organization.
Now that he won, the world has been lifted off of his shoulders.
“We struggled so bad last year and the beginning of this year, and man, I had questions if Mr. H (Rick Hendrick) was going to let me keep doing this, everybody, all the rumor mills,” said Bowman about his future. “But to be here winning a race in the Cup Series means so much. This is all I’ve ever wanted.”
Bowman said that he knows that he will be back with the team for a third season next year. Hendrick told him that so that’s all he needs to hear on that subject. Now, he just wants to go win some more races which would make him confident that the rest will take care of itself.