NASCAR CUP SERIES
DIXIE VODKA 400
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
JUNE 12, 2020
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 LLUMAR CAMARO ZL1 1LE, spoke with media via teleconference to discuss his outlook going into Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the difficulty of the new schedule, and more. Full Transcript:
WE’RE HEADING INTO HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY THIS WEEKEND. WHAT’S YOUR EXCITEMENT LEVEL AS WE GET READY TO HEAD DOWN SOUTH TO HOMESTEAD?
“Yeah, I’m always excited to go to any of the intermediate tracks this year. We’ve been really strong. Atlanta was a little bit of a letdown for us – I think we kind of got caught off guard with the package that we brought there. We expected to be really strong and, obviously, we really weren’t. I think we learned a lot from that and we’re hopefully in the right direction for Homestead. We finished that race pretty strong last year. We weren’t very good at the beginning of the race, but at the end of the day, we were pretty good. I’m ready to go – should be a good one for us.”
THERE IS SOME CHATTER THAT THERE MIGHT NOT BE PRACTICE AT TALLADEGA, THAT YOU’LL JUST GO THERE AND RACE. WOULD YOU BE COMFORTABLE IN DOING THAT, EVEN THOUGH YOU GUYS HAVEN’T BEEN ON THE TRACK WITH THE NEW RULES?
“Yeah, absolutely. I’m a big fan of this no practice thing. I’m really enjoying it. I feel like we run about the same and it gives me less time to kind of dial us out for the race. I’m all for no practice. I think, with the rule changes, we’ll all be able to adapt to that really quickly. The teams will do a really good job of having the cars prepared how they need to be for that event and I’m all good with it.”
I WANT TO ASKED ABOUT RACING HOMESTEAD-MIAMI AND HOW YOU HAVE TO BE SO CAREFUL, AND HAVE SUCH DEPTH-PERCEPTION – HOW IS YOUR DEPTH-PERCEPTION ABOUT RACING MIAMI AND WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?
“Homestead is a really interesting race track. There is a lot of risk versus reward on some ways you can make a lot of speed. Obviously, you can run the top really aggressively and go really fast. But how long can you really do that for without cleaning out the right side. Obviously, we’re going in a much different time of year than we normally do. So, it’ll probably be a little warmer and maybe a little slicker. We’ll just have to wait and see. But yeah you don’t want to tear the right side off. The Cup cars are super unforgiving – you get in the wall at all and you’re going to have a bad day. So, you have to be really careful with that, and pick and choose the right times to run the top aggressively and when to be a little conservative and take care of your race car.”
WITH NO CHAMPIONSHIP ON THE LINE, COULD IT BE A DIFFERENT KIND OF RACE BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT LOOKING OUT FOR A TEAMMATE THAT’S RUNNING FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP AND NOBODY IS WATCHING OUT FOR THAT?
“Maybe a little bit, but I feel like when it comes to those final races, we’re tense everywhere we go. Those final races have a different kind of atmosphere around them, but I think the on-track product, we’re all still trying to win races and get as much as we can get. So, I think the on-track stuff will be really similar, it’s just kind of that off-track, last day of school-type feel that it probably won’t have and will be a little different.”
YOU MENTIONED THE FACT THAT YOU GUYS WEREN’T AS GOOD AT ATLANTA THAT YOU HOPED YOU WOULD BE. AFTER TALKING WITH GREG (IVES) AND THE GUYS AT THE SHOP, WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE LARGEST CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO THAT? IS IT NO PRACTICE? IS IT HAVING TO PICK A SETUP GOING IN AND JUST TRYING TO MAKE A GUESS OFF SIM WORK?
“It’s hard to say. I feel like every intermediate (track), we’ve been really strong, with the exception of Atlanta. I think we led laps at about all of them, other than that. Vegas we were strong, California we were strong. Darlington, both Charlotte’s. Going to Atlanta, we just picked something that we thought would suit that race track really well and the race just kind of played out differently than we thought it would, and the things that we thought would work just didn’t work. I think if we would have practiced, we still would have gone the route that we went. We thought those long green flag runs would come to us and they just didn’t. Definitely frustrating and a bummer to not be very good there. But I think the good thing was that as an organization, not being very good there was still two cars in the top-10 and we finished 12th. Last year when we would go somewhere and not be very good, we’d really be out to lunch. This year, even when we’re not great, it seems like we’re a whole lot closer to the front. Definitely frustrating to not be that good, but I think we’re definitely closer and can be better this weekend at Homestead.”
HAVE YOU GUYS FOUND WITH THE NEW SCHEDULE AND THE LACK OF ON-TRACK PRATICE FOR THE RACES WE GO TO, THAT YOU GUYS CAN STILL GO BACK TO THE SHOP AND MAKE ADJUSTMENTS BASED ON WHAT YOU LEARNED AND COME BACK WITH CHANGES THAT YOU THINK WILL WORK IN THE FUTURE?
“Yeah, I don’t think that’s changed, really. I feel like a lot of times, even when we have practice, we start with a green race track. We kind of chase the race track a little bit, adjust the car one direction and by the time the race track kind of rubbers up and works itself in, we go right back to where we unloaded and that’s where we race. I feel like really how we’re racing the cars haven’t changed that much. We’re still having the same meetings and everything to sit down and address what we learned from the race, and just try to figure out how to use that going forward in the same ways that we normally would.”
TWO-PART QUESTION: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT NASCAR’S DECISION TO BAN THE CONFEDERATE FLAG? HOW CLOSE DO YOU FEEL THINGS HAVE BEEN ROLLING FOR YOU TO THE POINT WHERE IT’S COMING EASIER? IT’S NEVER EASY, BUT THE THINGS IN YOUR TEAM AND WITH YOUSELF.
“Yeah, for sure. I definitely stand with NASCAR. I think there’s no reason to have anything that makes anybody uncomfortable to come to a NASCAR race. I think it’s a family event. We want to put on a great show and include everybody – any fan that wants to come is who we need to include. I’m with them on that one hundred percent.”
“As far as how things are going for our team and how things have gone this year, I don’t necessarily think things are coming easier. We’re working harder than ever, I’m working harder than ever on and off the race track, and doing everything I can to be prepared each and every week. But I think our on-track product has been better for our race team. We’ve led more laps this year than in previous years. We’ve thrown some races away, for sure. I think second Charlotte was a race that I threw away single-handedly and I’ve been pretty frustrated with that ever since then. When we have fast race cars each and every week, there’s always next week and I feel like that’s been a thing that’s really giving us a lot of confidence. We went to a race track that we were absolutely horrendous at last year on Wednesday night – going to Martinsville – and we ran sixth. We had a really great race car, so I think we’re improving in every area. I just need to do a little better job putting complete races together. But I think things are definitely coming together.”
SPECTATORS RETURNING – NOT NECESSARLY THE SPECTATORS THAT WE’RE USED TO, BUT UP TO 1,000 FANS AND MILITARY PERSONNEL ARE GOING TO BE AT THE DIXIE VODKA 400. WHAT’S IT LIKE TO START GETTING THAT GROOVE BACK A LITTLE BIT WITH THE SPECTATORS RETURNING TO THE TRACK?
“Yeah, it’s great to have people back. It’s been really different. I don’t think you really notice how different it is until post-race. Getting out of the cars to almost silence is just a really odd feeling. The beginning of Darlington, at pre-race walking out to the car, it was definitely different because typically there are people everywhere and you’re signing autographs and it’s kind of hard to get wherever you’re going. So, that’s a little bit different. But the post-race thing and just kind of the awkward silence in a sense is the biggest difference. Hopefully, we put on a great show and the people that are able to be there at that race are making some noise because that awkward silence has been a little weird.”
I KNOW IT CAN BE AGGRAVATING FOR YOU GUYS WITH ALL THE FANS THERE AND YOU’RE TRYING TO GET YOUR HEAD INTO THE GAME. YOU’RE SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS, YOU’RE GETTING GRABBED FOR PICTURES AND THINGS. BUT DO YOU THINK NOW MAYBE YOU’LL APPRECIATE OR THINK ABOUT THAT A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENTLY NOW THAT YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN WITHOUT IT?
“Yeah, for sure. We all miss the fans and want the fans back. It’s a bummer with everything that’s going on. It’s been super different. There are times when it’s frustrating – things like if you’re sitting in the hauler and you want to go use the restroom, you have to sign 25 autographs to go to the bathroom, that can be interesting sometimes (laughs). But it’s part of what makes our sport so awesome, is that our fans are so passionate. We want everybody back and we want to put on great shows for them. There’s never a lack of appreciation, but definitely just how weird it’s been to not have people there has bumped that appreciation up even more.”
THIS LAST GROUP OF RACES, THERE’S NEVER BEEN THIS MANY RACES IN THIS SHORT PERIOD OF TIME. HOW GRUELING IS THAT FOR YOU AND HAVE YOU HAD TO CHANGE YOUR NORMAL RECOVERY ROUTINE THAT YOU WOULD NORMALLY HAVE?
“Definitely. Starting off, we ran some shorter races and it wasn’t bad at all. I think this week has been probably been the most grueling of my career. The recovery process has definitely changed, the workout process during the week has changed quite a bit. But this week, with 500 miles at Atlanta, two days to turnaround and go to Martinsville for 500 laps where it’s super-hot – we have right side windows in short track cars now, so there’s no air flow – it was the hottest I’ve ever been in my entire life in a race car on Wednesday night. That was really tough, lost a ton of weight on Wednesday night. Trying to put that back on for Sunday is difficult, trying to get rehydrated for Sunday is difficult. This week, in particular, with three full-length races – one being 500 miles, one being 500 laps at a short track and then 400 miles at a hot, slick race track in Miami – is super difficult. The previous couple of weeks, I would have told you no, everything is good and it’s no problem. But this week has been a tough one. You don’t see guys get out of a race car because they’re hot in previous years and you saw that at Martinsville because of how hot it is, how little air flow there is in the cars right now, and the lack of recovery time that we have. So, it’s a tough time right now, for sure.”
JUMPING AHEAD TO TALLADEGA, IT’S A TRACK THAT YOU’VE WON AT VIRTUALLY. BUT, IN REAL-LIFE, IT’S EITHER YOU’RE UP IN THE TOP OR AT THE BOTTOM – THERE REALLY ISN’T AN IN BETWEEN. WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THIS TRACK IS AN ALL OR NOTHING PLACE FOR YOU?
“I think the reality is we’re typically really close to the front at the end of the race, and it either works out for us or we get crashed. We’ve crashed a lot of race cars there; we’ve been in contention to win a lot of races there as well. I think the last time we crashed there, we were leading when we crashed. We just have super-fast race cars at all the superspeedway races coming from Hendrick Motorsports. Our body shop, fab shop, engine shop – they put a ton of effort into those cars and they always have us up front. Typically, that’s about where the crashes happen. I think it really comes down to we either get collected in a crash and don’t finish well, or we finish where we run and that’s typically up front.”
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