Alex Bowman’s rookie joke prompts a “serious” question

AVONDALE, AZ - MARCH 10: Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway on March 10, 2018 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Twitter can be a dangerous weapon, when it comes to getting facts straight, as Alex Bowman highlighted this week in Las Vegas.

A fan on Twitter asked Bowman if he is the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie to qualify for the Playoffs. With tongue in cheek, Bowman replied in the affirmative.

In reality, other rookies have qualified for the postseason, notably Denny Hamlin in 2006 (when he won both Pocono races from the pole), Chris Buescher in 2016 (when he won a rain-shortened race at Pocono) and Chase Elliott in 2016 (when he made the Playoffs on points and finished 10th in the final standings).

So, first, Bowman wouldn’t be the first rookie to make the Playoffs. Second, he isn’t a rookie. Though 2018 is his first full-time year in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, it isn’t his first full season.

Bowman spent a couple of admittedly forgettable years in lower-level equipment before earning his place as the successor to Dale Earnhardt Jr. Bowman’s rookie year was 2014, when he competed as a 21-year-old for BK Racing.

Bowman says the whole “rookie” phenomenon is an inside joke.

“It’s just been a joke on Twitter all season, so I’m just committing to it,” Bowman told the NASCAR Wire Service. “I think it pays to win Rookie of the Year, so I’m trying to beat (teammate) William (Byron) for that. I think we’re ahead of him in it right now—but, no, it’s a joke.

“Some people on Twitter really don’t get it, and it’s really funny, but I got asked (on Playoffs media day) what it’s like to be the first rookie to make the Playoff, as a serious question, which I don’t know where that came from… Somebody was reading Twitter and took it to be fact way too much.”