By Kerry Murphey, Editor-In-Chief
This past week, in Las Vegas The Final Lap’s Kerry Murphey had a one-on-one interview with Alex Bowman, who drives the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for mega NASCAR team Hendrick Motorsports. The interview is available in audio format in episode 506 of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast, but is also transcribed below for the hearing impaired, or for those who prefer to read.
LISTEN TO THIS INTERVIEW ON THE FINAL LAP WEEKLY | SUBSCRIBE HERE
KERRY MURPHEY: Alex Bowman, you got a spiffy new ride this year, the No. 88, you have to be happy about that.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, it’s a dream come to true to be here driving for Hendrick Motorsports. Haven’t had the finishes we would have liked the last two weeks, but we kind of know the direction we need to go and we are going to keep working to get there. Definitely we are all working hard. Just trying to continue to approve and real excited to see where we are this week.
KM: How much did it mean to have the stamp of approval from Dale Jr. for this ride?
AB: It meant a lot. Dale has been a big part of my career for a long time now. To have his support – as well as Nationwide’s support and Axalta’s support and everybody at HMS — has really meant the world to me. Just trying to make the most of this opportunity and have as much fun as I can doing it.
KM: We are seeing the brand-new Camaro on the racetracks right now. How long does that go into development before we see it on the racetrack? It’s not right away, right?
AB: It’s obviously been in development for quite a while. I think they – It’s hard for me to say how long it was – I’m sure they – I don’t think they told a lot of people they were bringing the Camaro back until we did that announcement. I learned shortly before that, but there was a lot of work that went in before that. A lot of hard work from a lot of really smart people. Just doing our best to get our Camaros up front.
KM: You have Peyton Manning as part of your Nationwide family, does he walk around singing that song all the time?
AB: Yeah, I think he does. He has an ear piece to make sure his pitch and notes are right and everything. He is one of the best singers I know. We need to get him to karaoke night one night and just sing the Nationwide jingle.
KM: He was the pace car driver?
AB: Yeah, he was the pace car driver at Daytona. Which was pretty cool, we kind of had that race surrounded with Nationwide stuff. He was the pace car driver, we were on the pole, and Dale Jr. was doing Gentlemen Start Your Engines. That was really, really cool. Cool to be a part of. Drove up next to Peyton and scared him in the pace car. It was fun to have everyone there.
KM: Did you give him any pointers or tips on how to drive the thing?
AB: He had been practicing, so I think he had it figured out. If you look at the in-car video, Buster had to grab the wheel a couple of times. It’s definitely interesting, that’s a tough place to ride around slow. You’re literally turning right through the corners to keep the car up on the banking. Definitely different than you would think, but cool to have him there.
KM: How does a production car handle a racetrack like that?
AB: I don’t have a clue. I’ve never driven one around Daytona. But not very well, I’d say. Our Camaros would have probably handled it better than what he was driving.
KM: Of course, good answer I like that. Dale Jr. took the casual approach to the attire for Grand Marshal wearing the t-shirt, what did you think about that?
AB: I’m all for it. I like t-shirts. T-shirts are good. But I think it’s cool to see, you’re really seeing who Dale is right now. Very casual, down to earth, real nice guy.
KM: For a racecar driver, you seem to like sloths on twitter.
AB: I just go with whatever good GIFs I can find, and for some reason there is an abundance of sloth GIFs.
KM: Aren’t they slow though? Isn’t that their thing?
AB: Well that was the point. We didn’t qualify so well in Atlanta, so the sloth GIF fit very well with our qualifying effort.
KM: Vegas has a big deal this year, it has a second date. It has playoff implications. Is there anything you can learn and write down this week heading into the fall?
AB: Absolutely. I mean we definitely – It’s definitely more of an important race than it was. We’ll just have to keep our notebooks open, obviously a lot changes between now and the fall. Everybody’s car is developed further, and people figure new stuff out. But it’s definitely, we have to pay a little more attention than we normally would to this racetrack.
KM: Something else going on in the fall, Charlotte they added right turns for you guys. How’s that going to work?
AB: I’m not so sure. I’m interested to see, it’ll be interesting. Hopefully it puts on a great show for the fans. At the end of the day, that’s why we are here racing is to entertain the fans. Hopefully we do a good job of that, we’ll have to wait and see.
KM: They added it to NASCAR Heat are you going to give that a whirl before it comes up.
AB: I’m not sure. I don’t play a lot of video games. I spend a lot of time in the simulator, so maybe we will get it mapped in there and give it a whirl in there.
KM: That’s right, you spend a lot of time in the simulator. You probably want to get away from that now, right?
AB: Yeah, I get home from the simulator and I’m not playing any video games, I’m not driving tonight.
KM: I drive real racecars now.
AB: Yeah, something like that [laughter].