MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
QUAKER STATE 400 PRESENTED BY WALMART
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
JULY 13, 2018
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 AXALTA CAMARO ZL1, met with members of the media at Kentucky Speedway and discussed his recently announced paint scheme for Pocono, his thoughts on running at Kentucky Speedway this weekend, blocking and many other topics. Full Transcript:
YOU JUST HAD AN EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT WITH YOUR PARTNER AXALTA WHY DON’T YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT?
“Yeah, so we are going to have the Axalta Eagles All Pro Teacher’s car at Pocono. Really looking forward to that. We are going to have the teacher that wins the All Pro Teacher’s award there. That will be special for them. It’s going to be a lot of fun, so really looking forward to having the Super Bowl champions on the car.”
YOU ARE ON THE BUBBLE TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS. TALK ABOUT THE PRESSURES AND WHAT THAT DEAL IS ABOUT RIGHT NOW FOR YOUR RACE TEAM AS WE CLOSE IN ON THE END OF THE REGULAR SEASON:
“There is definitely a good bit of pressure obviously that comes with it. Really last week was probably the most pressure that I will see until we get to Indy if things keep going the way they have. Definitely in the back of my mind I was looking at the No. 95 car leading laps and some of the other guys up there, I was like, oh this could get really bad for us. Glad it didn’t turn into too bad of a night for us, still got solid stage points and all that. For me, it’s just we have to keep putting races together and keep running solid top 10 and hopefully that gets us there. Obviously, we would like to win before the cutoff, but I think we can do it on points we just have to keep moving in the right direction. We have kind of struggled to get stage points this year and that has really put us farther behind than I think we would be if we got stage points of how we finish. But we will just keep working at it and I think we can make it.”
GOING IN ARE YOU THINKING POINTS FIRST, WIN SECOND?
“No, you are always thinking win first, but sometimes… we have obviously been off of where we want to be and sometimes you don’t have that opportunity and you’ve just got to be smart and not put yourself in a really bad position early in a race and stuff like that. Always when you go to the race track you are thinking win first, but points are pretty important right now too.”
DOES IT BUM YOU OUT THAT ERIK JONES GOT THE WIN FOR THE YOUNG GUYS BEFORE YOU DID? SECOND, HOW DIFFICULT ARE THE CARS TO DRIVE?
“I think it’s great for Erik (Jones) to get a win. That was pretty cool. Obviously, I wish I got a win first, but that is just kind of the way things go sometimes. As far as the cars I think my car has been pretty difficult to drive all year. But, I think Kyle Busch’s and Kevin Harvick’s probably haven’t been so difficult. I think it’s a pretty good mix right now. The aero stuff is always tough to get around. You can’t unlearn what we have learned and make the racing better by just taking all that stuff away. We still have that knowledge and are going to use that aero grip everywhere we go. That is definitely a tough thing to get around when it comes to racing, but I think the cars are pretty hard to drive, at least mine is. I will let you know if it gets too easy though for sure.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS TRACK BEFORE AND AFTER THE REPAVE?
“Yeah, it was one of my favorite tracks before they paved it just because you could move around so much and it had so much character with all the bumps. I have only been here in a Wheel Force (Transducer) car since they paved it. So, that is kind of skewed I guess a little bit. You are running 90% in a Wheel Force car and not really pushing it, especially at a place like here where it’s hard to catch a car. So, I don’t really know. I’m pretty anxious to get on the race track and try to get my feet under me. I think we can still be really strong here. The repaves have been a little rough on us this year, but we were good at Texas, other than that the repaves we have been pretty bad. I don’t know. We will just wait and see. I would say later today would probably be a better time to ask that question, because I just don’t really have much information yet.”
IN YOUR URGENCY TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS HOW MUCH DOES A TRACK LIKE THIS ADD TO IN TERMS OF TRYING TO LEARN SOMETHING WITH A LOT OF 1.5-MILE TRACKS IN THE PLAYOFFS?
“Yeah, you would think a 1.5-mile track would give you a bunch of opportunities to learn for other 1.5-miles in the Playoffs, but this place is so different than anywhere else we go. It’s pretty unique, it and Texas are kind of similar now with the way they have changed things, but other than that, (Turns) 3 and 4 is really different. (Turns) 1 and 2 is kind of a normal 1.5-mile corner, but it is just really different. Obviously, if we find something that works really well here it might work really well at other places, but there is such a big split in the corners and such a high grip level from the new pavement, it’s really hard to translate that to like an old worn out place that we go.”
DOES THIS TRACK REMIND YOU OF ANY OTHER TRACKS ON THE SCHEDULE?
“Honestly, I would just say Texas. Since they reconfigured Texas it is pretty similar to this. A much slower entry to (Turn) 1. I guess that would be your entry to (Turn) 3 here. It’s kind of backwards, but Texas still has way more banking than this place does. There is not really anywhere we go that is quite as flat as (Turn) 3 here. That just proposes a big challenge for drivers not over shooting that entry and getting the car to work right on both ends of the race track because there is so much banking in (Turns) 1 and 2. It’s a big compromise. You see that at a place like Pocono compromising your set-up for different corners, so there is a little bit of similarity there, but I don’t know, I guess there are a couple of places that we do that for sure.”
HOW SIGNIFICANT WILL SIDE-DRAFTING BE HERE? IF SOMEONE IS COMING UP ON YOU HOW EASY IS IT TO SHAKE THEM OFF?
“Yeah, it’s going to be really hard to run side-by-side here. Just with the groove being so narrow. When somebody gets down on your door it’s going to make the car be a handful to drive. As far as holding somebody off behind you, it’s so narrow it’s pretty easy to block the air. Once you block that air they have to be a good bit better than you to get passed you. We saw last night in the Truck race (Stewart) Friesen couldn’t even get 10 truck lengths behind him. That was really interesting. I think that is just kind of the way a narrow race track works. When you can’t move around to get clean air it’s hard to make that pass when you are not much better than the guy in front of you.”
HOW DO YOU TACKLE TURN 3 HERE?
“Luckily for me we have the simulator and a lot of really good tools at Chevy and at Hendrick Motorsports that I can use to watch footage and run the sim and stuff like that to kind of get me an idea of where I need to lift and all that before I get here. Hopefully, that has helped. We spent half a day in the simulator running here. Hopefully, that will help, but if I got out and crash on the first lap, I guess that wouldn’t be good either. It is tough. We got to a lot of places or I have gone to a lot of places this year that I haven’t seen since 2015. It’s kind of been like going to a place for the first time just because it has been so long. So, I have just kind of tried to watch as much footage and run the sim as much as I can and stuff like that just to be the most prepared I can when I get here.”
YOU’VE HAD THREE CONSECUTIVE TOP 10’S AND HAVE LED THE HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS CONTINGENT THE LAST COUPLE OF RACES. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU AND GREG IVES (CREW CHIEF) HAVE KIND OF SETTLED IN TO A ROUTINE BY NOW?
“Yeah, absolutely. Working with Greg is a ton of fun. I’ve started to understand his riddles a little bit, which is really a pretty big achievement in my book, but no, it’s been great working with him. I think we have been pretty solid. We have finally seemed to put races all the way together the last three weeks, not have any big mistakes and finished where we deserved to finish. I feel like Daytona is kind of whatever, but other than that, Sonoma and Chicago we finished pretty well and that is how we deserved and how we ran. You know we have been making cars better throughout the course of a race too, which is kind of something we struggled to do to start the year. Making cars better throughout qualifying which is also something we struggled to do to start the year. If we can just continue to get better every week I think we can be a contender by the end of the year. It’s just been a long slow process to kind of catch up from where we started the year, but we are definitely getting there.”
I DOUBT YOU HAVE A DISPENSATION TO RUN THE MIDGET RACE AT INDY OR THE MIDGET RACE AT THE GATEWAY NATIONALS, BUT DO YOU PLAN ON FIELDING CARS AT EITHER ONE OF THOSE EVENTS?
“I wish I could get one ready for Indy. Both cars are torn all the way apart and won’t be ready. I actually, I’ve been working on it all week and it’s not really doable. So, hopefully C.J. (Leary) gets an invite to the Gateway race and we can go run there. They are pretty stingy with their invites, but hopefully he gets one. I keep telling him he needs to do whatever he can to get that. I would like to be a part of that, but we are going to go to Turkey Night and Du Quoin and Chili Bowl. So, it will be fun. I’m going to run Chili Bowl which will be cool. Excited to get back in one. It’s been awhile. It will be fun.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE LEVEL OF BLOCKING DRIVERS ARE DOING NOW ESPECIALLY FROM YOUNGER DRIVERS THAT ARE COMING IN THAT ARE MORE AGGRESSIVE IN THE FIELD?
“I think anybody that leads a speedway race is super aggressive. You have to block. If you don’t block you just lose the lead instantly. It’s the box we have been put in with the rules package and that is how you have to position yourself up front to be successful in those races. The No. 17 (Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.) was obviously the most aggressive guy last week, but he won two stages pretty handily and ran up front all night until he got caught up in a wreck. So, obviously that aggression breeds success. That is just what you have to do. I mean Brad (Keselowski) is super aggressive when he runs up front too. That is just kind of the way plate racing is.”
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