This is about a hometown kid doing well … a kid with a dream who eventually accomplished it by doing what he’s always wanted to do – drive a car very fast.
This is about Alex Bowman, who will have his biggest day in the spotlight today when drivers at the Daytona 500 start their engines.
“I wasn’t good at very many other things,” Bowman, an Ironwood Ridge grad, half-jokingly said in a recent telephone interview from North Carolina. “Once I started to figure out that I was pretty good at it that’s when it hit me that it would be pretty cool to make a living at it.”
He spent many a racing night at Tucson Raceway Park as a little kid he said siting in the stands.
“That was a pretty cool place to grow up,” he said.
And, now this: here he is in the pole position of today’s biggest race – one of the biggest anywhere – driving the famed No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet after Dale Earnhardt Jr. retired. He’ll be alongside former Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin.
So, 11 years after realizing this was what his destiny was, Bowman, now 24, having a good time living his dream on a world-wide stage. He’s one of the few people in this world who get to live their dreams – especially in the spotlight.
“It’s been an absolute dream come true, especially the last few days,” he said, after handling numerous media requests and preparing for today’s big race. “Getting to drive this car for a living is really cool. It makes it really hard to complain, even on the bad days.”
His meteoric rise to the top hasn’t exactly been that, given his experience.
“I feel it’s take forever,” he said. “(But) I’m appreciative of it and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. I can’t complain, that’s for sure.”
But he’s come a long way since his short-track days in Arizona, driving midget cars. Winning came easy and people noticed. He moved up the racing/driving scene.
In his later teen years, he moved to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series with X Team Racing and finished sixth in the series point totals, eventually becoming Rookie of the Year.
It was 2015-16 when things took off for Bowman, who filled in for an injured Earnhardt. Bowman ran really well for the group as his replacement and showed commitment to the team, spending time in the simulator to get better. It was his way of showing them, “this was where I wanted to be and that I wanted to be driving for them and nobody else.”
In return they showed him, they liked him.
“That kind of showed me that with my great equipment and great race team that I could contend for wins,” he said. “That was the eye-opening deal at least on the Cup level that helped me at this level.”
Now, the pressure of being in the 88 car fulltime?
“It’s just another race car,” he said. “There’s not any added pressure. It’s the best race car I’ve ever gotten to drive. I’m just having fun driving it.”
The fun continues today after having fun in getting the pole last weekend.
“That was really special,” he said about getting the pole. “It’s really more about the race car and the team and the driver when it comes to comes to qualifying. I can’t take too much credit for it. They’ve built a nice car and it is showing.”