MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
HOLLYWOOD CASINO 400
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 19, 2018
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 NATIONWIDE CAMARO ZL1 met with media and discussed, improvements and changes over the course of the year at Hendrick Motorsports, getting advice from Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, improved communication with crew chief, Greg Ives, and more. Full Transcript:
YOU WERE IN A TOUGH SITUATION LAST WEEK IN TERMS OF POINTS AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO GET A LOT. WHAT DIDN’T GO RIGHT LAST WEEK? WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO AVOID THAT THIS WEEK?
“What didn’t go right was just 10 really fast Fords sitting on the bottom. Nobody wanted to go anywhere. And it was really hard to really make anything happen. They were all working together really well. We had a fast enough race car to get something going. And, we just weren’t able to do it. It was a pretty frustrating day, for sure. This is one of my better race tracks I feel like. I’ve won a couple of ARCA races here and ran pretty solid here in 2016 driving the No. 88 car. So, I’m excited. I feel like our 1.5-mile program has gotten a lot better over the course of the last few months. I think we can have a shot at winning here, for sure. That’s what it’s going to take. Hopefully, we can get the job done.”
WITH YOU AND WILLIAM BYRON AND CHASE ELLIOTT, OFTEN TIMES YOU GUYS ARE ASKED WHAT SORT OF INFLUENCE DOES JIMMIE JOHNSON HAVE ON YOU GUYS SINCE HE’S THE VETERAN. DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE THREE OF YOU HAVE HAD ANY INFLUENCE ON HIM?
“That’s a tough question. I think Jimmie is an open book. And he’s a super-humble guy. He’s always willing to learn from people. I don’t know that there’s really much we could teach him or influence him on. But, he’s definitely always open to really anything. He’s been a huge help to all of us. I try to lean on him as much as I possibly can. He’s the best help I could ever ask for. Having him as a teammate has been a great thing for me. But as far as him leaning on us, or him trying to learn from us, I don’t really know how we could influence him. But, maybe we have and I just don’t realize it. But, I think it’s more the other way around, for sure.”
“That’s a really tough question to answer. I think it’s hard for me to answer that really, for him. If we have influenced him in some way, maybe I haven’t seen it. He does his thing. He is super-fit. He’s one of the best race car drivers that the sport has ever seen. He’s super successful. Obviously, it’s been a rough year for him, but I don’t think that has really changed much. He’s still as driven as he’s ever been. And he’s still probably the most driven and motivated person I’ve ever met.”
IS THIS A TRACK WHERE YOU CAN TAKE MILD RISKS LIKE TWO-TIRE STOPS, NO TIRE STOPS, OR TRY A DIFFERENT STRATEGY TO TRY TO WIN? OR, ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE TO BE THE BEST CAR ON SUNDAY TO WIN?
“I feel like there are always opportunities for a two-tire stop to work. I really feel like this place, it’s so wide and you can move around so much, that it’s not easy to pass, especially when it gets kind of strung out and everybody is running the top. It gets pretty difficult to pass. The best car typically prevails here, I feel like. So, I don’t know that taking a ton of risk is going to win you the race. You could go from running 10th to maybe finishing fourth or fifth with a big risk. But, I don’t know that it’s going to win the race for you.”
SINCE THE CHANGES FOR 2019 WERE ANNOUNCED AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS WITH CREW CHIEFS, WHAT ARE YOU SEEING THERE? WHAT ARE YOU NOTICING?
“Honestly, nothing for me has changed. Obviously, my whole team is staying the same. You’ll probably see Chad (Knaus) talking to William (Byron) a little bit more and trying to learn more about William and stuff like that. But, that’s pretty little things. I think it’s really business as usual. Everybody is trying to bring the best race cars to the race track we possibly. Can. We all work together really closely anyway. Our team offices are all right next to each other and we’re all really one big team. I think not a whole lot has really changed.”
WHERE DO YOU THINK YOUR TEAM IS AT IN THE SCHEME OF THINGS RIGHT NOW?
“I think Greg (Ives, crew chief) and I work really well together. And the whole team is one of the better teams that I’ve ever been on as far as people working together and getting along really well. We definitely have some personalities, but it’s a really good group of guys and I really enjoy working with them. So, I’m glad we’re all sticking together. I think Greg and I are continuing to build our relationship. Jeff Gordon has been pretty good about kind of looking in from the outside the last couple of weeks and sitting on the pit box; and I think he’s pointed some things out that Greg and I can improve on, for sure. Greg and I talked quite a bit about just little things to improve on. I think we’re getting better. Our race cars have obviously gotten better, but I think our communication is only getting better as well.”
EARLIER YOU MENTIONED ON HOW YOU’VE BEEN LEANING ON JIMMIE JOHNSON ON SOME ADVICE. NEXT WEEK WE GO TO MARTINSVILLE. HE’S PRETTY GOOD THERE (LAUGHTER). HAVE YOU LEANED ON HIM ABOUT THAT TRACK? YOU GOT A TOP 10 THE LAST TIME YOU WERE THERE
“I definitely leaned on him when we were there for the first race. That’s an interesting place for me. I tend to not practice or qualify very well, but tend to race really well. Even driving for smaller teams, we had some really solid days there. So, I’m looking forward to getting back there. I think we finished 7th there in the Spring, and had a really good day for what, at the time, was a really tough time for us. So, I think we can go back there and contend for a win. So, I’m looking forward to it. But, I’ll always lean on Jimmie no matter where we go. I think there’s nowhere that he’s not really, really good at. So, I’m just to learn from him whenever I can and just be a sponge whenever I’m around him.”
HAVE YOU READ DALE EARNHARDT, JR’S BOOK? AND IF SO, IS THERE ANYTHING YOU COULD LEARN FROM TO HELP YOUR CAREER?
“I have not. I would like to, for sure. They’ve kept me pretty busy the last couple of weeks. And I’ve been thrashing on Chili Bowl cars and stuff like that. So, I haven’t really had any free time. But, I would love to sit down and read it, or read it on the plane to and from the race track. I’ve seen a lot of people talking a lot about it. It would be a good read, for sure.”
HOW DO YOU MEAN’ COMMUNICATION HAS GOTTEN BETTER’? YOU’VE BEEN TOGETHER FOR ALMOST A FULL SEASON, AND ALSO FOR PART OF THAT ONE SEASON. SO YOU’VE HAD A LOT OF TIME TOGETHER. CAN YOU EXPLAIN A LITTLE BIT MORE ON THAT, PLEASE?
“I think just having somebody like Jeff (Gordon), who sat on the box at I think Dover, and was pretty involved in Talladega. I think just having that outside looking in and being able to lean on him; obviously he has been super successful and had a bunch of different crew chiefs and worked really well with them. Just having him to lean on and point little things out was a big help. Honestly, Richmond, the way the race went, we had a really good first two stages and then kind of fell apart the last half of the race, there were some frustrations on both sides and it got Greg (Ives, crew chief) and I to have a conversation and talk more really about what Greg needed from me throughout the race. It kind of made me change I guess how I approached just some different feedback things throughout the race. I’m typically on the quiet side on the radio and try not to get too fired-up and try not to complain, honestly. Just some little things that I can do a better job of in keeping him more up-to-date on the race car and stuff like that. We went to Dover and we didn’t have the best day, by any means, and we just fought hard all day. I feel like I did a better job of communicating and our communication was just better. I think Talladega kind of is what it is, communication-wise. But, I think Dover was a good step in the right direction and I’m excited to see what we have this weekend at Kansas.”
“Jeff just…. Actually I spent pretty-much all day Wednesday with him. Kind of just any little advice he can give and just little tidbits of things he things I should do differently, or we should do differently as a team and things to talk about going forward. It’s just a bunch of little things, but to have somebody like that on your side as big of a part of the time as he is, is a big help.”
KNOWING YOU PROBABLY HAVEN’T BEEN IN A PLAYOFF STRUCTURE LIKE THIS BEFORE, BUT HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN A ‘MUST-WIN’ SITUATION LIKE THIS?
“Honestly, I felt like almost every week in 2016 was a must-win situation just trying to prove myself. Those races for Ganassi last year, I felt like they were must-win situations with how successful that car has been; especially with their 1.5-mile program and going to Charlotte I felt like we really needed to win the race to prove that I deserved the shot that I was going to get in the No. 88 car. But, obviously, the playoffs are a whole other level of pressure and everything is different. So, I’m glad it’s Kansas. I love this place. I really enjoy it. I haven’t had the best days here by any means, but I’ve won a few times in ARCA and ran really well here in ’16. So, I think it’s a good place for me. I’m just going to try to make the most of it and have the best day we can.”
WOULD YOUR TEAM BE SURPRISED IF YOU WIN ON SUNDAY?
“I think with all the resources we have and the people and the knowledge we have at Hendrick Motorsports, I don’t think anybody is surprised within the organization when a Hendrick car wins. I think we haven’t shown the speed this year, really, up until probably a month and a half ago when we went to Vegas and ran really strong. I think up until then, we hadn’t really shown race-winning speed, by any means. But over the last month and a half or two months, we’ve improved a lot. And, I really don’t think we would be surprised if we won. It would obviously be great and the first Cup win would be amazing. My dad’s family is from here, so that would be pretty cool for them. But, you never know.”
YOU MADE THE PLAYOFF AND NOW AT THE END OF THE YEAR, ESPECIALLY HOW HENDRICK WAS RUNNING AT THE BEGINNING, DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE TURNED IT AROUND TO A POINT WHERE YOU ARE PROUD OF YOUR SEASON, REGARDLESS OF WHAT HAPPENS THIS WEEKEND WITH THE CUTOFF?
“Yes and now. I’m very proud of the progress we’ve made over the course of the year and how everybody at Hendrick Motorsports has stepped up and worked really hard. There have been a lot of late nights and a lot of overtime put in. The road crew especially; they’re there super-late every night trying to get these cars done and I’m super proud of my team in that aspect. I’m proud of Greg for some of the changes he’s initiated and steps he’s taken to try to make our race cars better. I’m frustrated that we haven’t won yet. That’s a big thing for me. Ever since Phoenix 2016, until I win a Cup race, I’m going to be pretty frustrated at being close and not getting the job done. It definitely eats me up a little bit. We’ve got some work to do to make that happen. Until we do that, I’m not going to be super happy about anything. But, I’m very proud of the progress we’ve made this season.”