Not surprisingly, Alex Bowman thought it was better to ask forgiveness than permission before climbing into a winged-sprint car at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday.
No, Bowman isn’t scrapping his dream job—piloting the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet next season.
But he is going to field a limited schedule for C.J. Leary in the No. 55 Valvoline sprinter starting with his home state of Arizona in January.
“I’m not driving it – that’s the first question I get. I’m not driving it,” Bowman said adamantly. “Just quarantine boredom and decided to build a winged-sprint car. It’s been a lot of fun. We went and tested on Friday and CJ was really fast right off the bat—as fast as anybody that’s tested during the day there.
“We were going pretty good. The track was right through the middle, not real worked in, so I was like ‘man, if there was ever a time to make some laps in one of these things, that would be now’. So, I went and made some laps. I think I ran like 7 or 8-laps and had a ton of fun.”
Bowman, like a lot of racers, has a tendency to go through competition withdrawal in the off-season. The Tucson native grew up on dirt and has fielded midgets in the past. But this new project marks a different adventure for Bowman.
“We’re going to start racing it here soon and have lot of fun doing it,” Bowman said. “That’s why I do that deal—to really just have fun and no expectations. I have a really, really good group of people that help me on those cars.
“We’ve never lost a party when we go dirt racing, so that’s what we’re going to go do this winter.”
But before the party can begin, Bowman still has three NASCAR Cup races remaining on the schedule starting on Wednesday at Texas Motor Speedway. Bowman is currently sixth in the standings with two races to decide the Championship 4. The No. 88 Chevy was on the point for 17 laps before the race was red-flagged on Sunday. After pitting during the caution, Bowman will restart 18th.
“I’m really confident in our race car for when we get back going,” Bowman said. “Obviously, we got the lead there and drove away from the field a little bit, so I know we have a really fast car. So, I’m really looking forward to that.
“Obviously, we’re buried a little bit on the track position now, but I’m just ready to go.”
As far as Bowman returning to his dirt roots, that’s not in the plans for now. Last year’s Chili Bowl Nationals experience was daunting to the driver having run limited laps on dirt over the last few years. But Bowman will provide cars for Leary and Jake Swanson at the Tulsa Expo Raceway in January.
“Last year got pretty difficult between running the Race of Champions with CJ and me running, not having a crew chief, me crew chiefing CJ – it was just a lot of work for me to drive one of the cars and crew chief the other car,” Bowman said. “So, I decided honestly, I don’t have much business at Chili Bowl, just with only racing those cars once a year and a big lack of experience.
“The program kind of needed two drivers that could help each other, instead of CJ trying to describe to me everything that I’m doing wrong every time I’m on the race track. Jake Swanson is going to drive and I think the two of them can really help each other, and try to put two cars in the show instead of just one.”