|NASCAR CUP SERIES DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY DRYDENE 400 TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT MAY 16, 2021|
ALEX BOWMAN CAPTURES THE WIN AT DOVERHendrick Motorsports Gives Camaro ZL1 1LE a 1-2-3-4 Finish DOVER, DEL. – (May 16, 2021) – Alex Bowman led the charge to the checkered flag in the Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway to score his second win of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) season in his No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1 1LE. It was Bowman’s fourth career victory in NASCAR’s premier series, and fourth top-10 finish in 11 races at the popular one-mile concrete oval track. The 28-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver’s trip to victory lane at the Monster Mile gave Chevrolet its fourth win on the season, bringing the Bowtie Brand’s all-time win record to 799 victories in the NASCAR Cup Series. The triumph gives Hendrick Motorsports its 21st win at Dover, the most of all teams at the venue, and the team’s 267th all-time in the Series. The victory brings Car Owner, Rick Hendrick, and Hendrick Motorsports just two race wins away from breaking Petty Enterprises’ all-time win record and becoming the winningest team in NASCAR history, one of stock car racing’s greatest achievements. It was more than just a win for Hendrick Motorsports as the organization’s drivers swept the top-four finishing positions, becoming just the third organization in NASCAR Cup Series history to finish 1-2-3-4 in a single event. Hendrick Motorsports joins an elite list to accomplish that feat, including Peter DePaolo Racing (1956 at Titusville; 1957 at North Wilkesboro) and Roush Fenway Racing (2005 at Homestead-Miami). While the win was Bowman’s first visit to Victory Lane at the Monster Mile, it was a familiar finishing place for the No. 48 Chevrolet. Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson, captured a record-11 wins at the wheel of Hendrick’s No. 48, including the final win of his career in 2017. Bowman’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Kyle Larson, crossed the finish line in the runner-up position, after sweeping Stage One and Stage Two wins and leading a race-high 263 laps in his No. 5 NationsGuard Camaro ZL1 1LE. The impressive run gave the California-native his 10th top-10 finish in 13 races at Dover and his eighth top-10 this season. Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1 1LE, finished third and William Byron, No. 24 Axalta Camaro ZL1 1LE, finished fourth to round out the historic top-four sweep. Tyler Reddick, No. 8 Cat Linkage Pins Camaro ZL1 1LE, finished eighth; and Daniel Suarez, No. 99 CommScope Camaro ZL1 1LE, finished ninth, giving Team Chevy six of the top-10 in the final running order. Joey Logano (Ford) rounded out the top-five in the 400-lap, 400-mile event. The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series continues with Race #14 on the season, the EchoPark Texas Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas, on Sunday, May 23. FS1 will telecast the race live at 2:30 p.m. ET. Live coverage can also be found on PRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
ALEX BOWMAN AND GREG IVES (CREW CHIEF), NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1 1LE, PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our race-winning driver, Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 ally Chevrolet. I believe we will also have his crew chief Greg Ives joining us. ALEX BOWMAN: Greg is yelling through this glass. He’s right outside the window looking like an idiot (laughter). THE MODERATOR: We’ll start with questions for Alex. Q. This was a track position game. How confident were you after you got the lead on the pit stop?ALEX BOWMAN: I think straight up the 5 was a little bit better than us. I knew that track position was key. Clean air was tough today, tougher than previous races here I feel like a little bit. I just felt like if I could keep the bottom closed off, it would pretty hard for him to get to me. If he did get to me, he would have to wear stuff out pretty bad. My pit crew I feel like won the race getting us off pit road there first. Man, just really cool to get to race Kyle, have such a great day for Hendrick Motorsports. Q. Mr. H said it’s pretty much a formality for you to sign an extension for multiple years. Do you feel any more comfortable in your future now than your typical you never know what’s going to happen?ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I mean, I think so. Just being at Hendrick Motorsports is obviously where I want to be. I want to continue to work with ally and drive the 48 car. Like he said, we’ve been working on it. I think I want to be there, they want me to drive their race car. It’s cool to have a guy like Rick Hendrick say he wants you to continue driving his race car. It means a lot to me. Just a really special place to be. Appreciative for the opportunity. THE MODERATOR: To let everyone know, we’re also joined by crew chief Greg Ives. Questions for both Alex and Greg. Q. Alex, you had a runaway train with the four guys finishing in the top four, but you were the locomotive, not the caboose. How did it feel being the locomotive pulling that train to a 1-2-3-4 finish?ALEX BOWMAN: It’s pretty amazing. I feel like we’ve been off for a couple weeks, but we’re still the same race team that won in Richmond. We’ve been probably a little down on ourselves. Just tried to get the guys back motivated after a rough week last week in Darlington. Our pit stops were incredible today. To run 1-2-3-4 for HMS, so cool. I don’t know when the last time that happened was, but it’s been a long time. Really, really cool to see it. Q. Back to the pit stops and the pit crew. What was the reaction when you did the burnout in front of them? Was that for them because of what they were able to do today?ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, for sure. I mean, if we don’t beat the 5 off pit road, we probably don’t beat him in the race. I give them all the credit for the win there. I think without them we wouldn’t have gotten it done. So, appreciate Greg and all those guys working so hard throughout the week to continue to get better. They’ve been super-fast all year. It’s cool to win a race that you can really point back to them and say they’re who got it done. It was cool to be able to do that. I feel like other guys do that all the time. Their pit crews come to the wall. I go to do burnouts, I can’t even see any of my guys. I yelled at them, You guys got to come to the wall. It was really cool to get to do that. Q. What is the significance to you obviously for yourself in Victory Lane but also the 48, getting Rick closer to the record for most wins by one team?ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I just want to be the guy that ties them and beats them, right? All four of us want to be that guy. It’s cool to put us one closer. Yeah, I mean, I want to be the guy that gets those wins for Mr. H because I feel like — not that any win is not special, they’re all really special, especially when you only have four of them, but I feel like I really want to be the guy that gets that done for him. Q. Did it take them long to get that fire out?ALEX BOWMAN: I don’t know. I stopped paying attention. It’s a long way from when I was on fire in New Hampshire, that’s for sure. Q. Alex, certainly Greg has talked about in the past about pit road. You talked about what the pit crew did today. How has Greg helped, what you’ve done to be better on pit road so far?ALEX BOWMAN: Greg, yells at me whenever I don’t maximize my lights and my segments, my rolling times, average speed. At Hendrick Motorsports we really like charts. In our meetings we talk about charts. There’s a lot of charts. Sometimes I look bad on those charts, and that’s when Greg yells at me (smiling). There’s a lot of different pit road charts and ways to look at it. He’s tries to do whatever he can to help me maximize each and every area. I feel like I’m gaining on it. There are definitely guys that do a little bit better of a job than me right now still. But that 48 pit crew makes up for it a little bit because they are super-fast each and every week. Q. Greg, you talked a couple weeks ago about the pit crew, your philosophy. You talked more about consistency. Talk about how you came to that philosophy. How does that philosophy work in a situation where it’s a winner-take-all pit stop?GREG IVES: Yeah, I mean, for me it’s all about, as Alex said, the details of it, but also letting the guys kind of play in their own space. They want to play at a high level. It’s all about creating comfort in that high level stress environment. The last couple weeks I’ve been putting them in a lot of changes, high stress environments, trying to get them to go fast when they have to make a lot of adjustments. I think it’s kind of like a batter swinging a heavier bat. I created some uncomfortable situations. Weren’t really looking good as far as times on pit road. Ultimately, I feel like for the adjustment stops we were doing a good job of making up time and figuring out where we had some deficit. It’s all about going down and talking. I talked to them this week. I broke down how well or how bad I was doing. Rolling that left front tire, I wasn’t doing it right last weekend, opened it up. We all worked through it. They’re not scared to tell the crew chief that I need to get better in the situation. I think ultimately being on the same platform as them, allowing them to make some mistakes, when mistakes come learning from them rather than scolding them. I really appreciate what they do, the family we’ve become. We’ve been together for five, six years now. It’s easy to work through complications when you have that open communication. Q. Obviously you won in the No. 48 car. Obviously, Jimmie Johnson has dominated for years here. What does that mean to you?ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, it means a lot to me. I was terrible here when I would come here for other teams. I got a little better when I started driving for (indiscernible) Motorsports. Had some okay runs here and there. My first or second time here for Hendrick Motorsports, I was struggling in practice. I would text Jimmie, bug him all night before the race trying to ask him what he does, how he approaches this place, what kind of line he runs. I just stuck to that, really tried to run like Jimmie did, run the Jimmie Johnson line, be tight against the black, super disciplined, super patient, kind of do some of the same things that he does with the throttle. Next year we came here, we ran second and third. Last year we had a solid top five. We’ve kind of been good here ever since. To win here with the 48 car is special, but to do it using I guess tips that Jimmie taught me is pretty cool. Q. Greg, Alex has described his relationship with you, it seems like you have similar personality, but how would you describe your relationship with Alex?GREG IVES: This question always is fun for Alex to pick on me a little bit. Yeah, I mean, we have a great relationship. That’s all because we love race cars, we love cars, we love racing and getting better.
The number one thing when it comes to a driver and my philosophy is the ability to learn. There’re things that go on in my head, sometimes it’s hard for me to talk about them or tell Alex. That’s why he calls me the riddler. Ultimately, I get to the point where I just tell him what I want and he does it. Today we were working through some brake pressure stuff, talked him through it. He didn’t get upset about it. I wasn’t trying to make him upset, I was trying to make him aware. Ultimately you have to that have relationship of trust. If he understands and knows what I’m looking at, he has the ability to respond the proper way in the car. When we get out, there’s no hard feelings. We just go on our way and have fun again the next week trying to overcome either a bad race or a race win.
He talked about Darlington. We were up in the lounge. We were trying to figure it out. Right after a race, if you have a bad one, sometimes you don’t want to talk, but we were able to. I told him, Hey, pump the guys up. Get involved and pump them up. He did. I was in a situation where I was upset and frustrated with the car’s performance. You needed him to do what he needed to do. He did a good job overcoming the last few weeks. Ultimately that’s because we have a relationship not only with him and I but throughout the full race team. Q. Greg, I know the dynamic of the team has been a little bit different with Rowdy’s passing. What has Alan brought to the team from your standpoint? How has he changed or uplifted the dynamic?GREG IVES: When you’re going through that, one of the biggest things you have to do is find a connection not only with the team but you have to find that connection with the person that Rowdy was. Alan and Rowdy had a friendship and a relationship prior. He was somebody that understood Rowdy and his attitude towards everyday working. He understood Rowdy’s personality from a team aspect, how valuable he was to us, keeping us motivated every day and every week. That’s where I found comfort with the guys around us. The pit crew had a big say in how they replaced one of their fallen guys. How was he going to mesh with the team? I would take meshing with the team over talent. Alan and Rowdy came in close together, they stayed friends. They had a similar work ethic. Ultimately it felt like the right choice for him to step into a position that was very difficult to endure and go through. He helped us find a little bit of peace in it all.Yeah, very difficult, but ultimately that’s kind of how it all worked out. THE MODERATOR: Greg, we’ll let you continue on with your obligations. Thanks for joining us and congratulations on the win. GREG IVES: Thank you, guys. Appreciate everybody. Q. You mentioned your crew guys were able to hop up on the wall. With everything opening up this weekend, were you able to celebrate with them a little bit more than the Richmond victory?ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, for sure. They were all in Victory Lane which is really cool. Means the world when I get to share that with them when I think so much of it was influenced by them. Really, really cool. Appreciative of getting to do that with them. Really neat. Q. What has Allen brought to the team? The stop was brilliant at the end. I think the fastest of anybody this season to get you out front.ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, for sure, I think Rowdy had a really big outgoing personality in a sea of awkwardness that is the 48 team. I think Allen brings a really similar personality, outgoingness. He’s just a big personality, a lot of fun to be around, a lot of fun to talk to. Can talk to anybody. Always having a good time. Always upbeat and positive. Rowdy was that guy. You have a lot of really awkward people on the 48 team, between Greg and I, some of the other pit crew guys, some of the team itself. We’re kind of a bunch of weirdos. It gets the job done. I feel like Alan brings it all together a little bit. Q. All four teams are running at a really high level right now. Can you circle anything specific that maybe has changed or improved that has got all four of you hitting on eight cylinders at the right time? Is it communication?ALEX BOWMAN: I don’t think there’s one thing you can pinpoint. I think it’s everybody in the whole shop working super well together, all four race teams working well together. Marshall Carlson is doing a really good job kind of getting everybody together. Chad Knaus is doing a really good job of taking lead in the shop. From the top down, Jeff Andrews has a big part in everything, the four crew chiefs, all the way to guys that sweep the floor at night. It’s a team effort. Everybody is all in. It’s a good atmosphere right now. All the cars are fast. The 48 team, we’ve had our struggles, our races that have gotten away from us. Everybody has been really fast. That’s just brought a great atmosphere and continuing to go well. Q. Looking forward to the Coke 600. With that extra hundred miles, your fast pit crew, the speed that the Hendrick cars have, you’re going to be one of the favorites going into that race. How do you feel being in that tier of drivers?ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I mean, I think we probably could have won both races there last year. We won a bunch of stages. The green-white-checkered didn’t really go our way the first one. I crashed all by myself when we should have won the second one. Probably my favorite oval we go to as far as the mile-and-a-half stuff. It’s got a lot of character. Some guys don’t like it, but I think it’s because they haven’t figured it out. Once you figure out turns three and four, it’s a lot of fun. You can manipulate your race car to do what you want it to do. I enjoy it. A lot of different grooves. It gets slick. A long, grueling, fun race. Looking forward to 600 miles, being as prepared as I can be for it. Q. Is there anything to that extra hundred miles for a driver?ALEX BOWMAN: I think this race feels longer than that race does. Next week will probably be more physically challenging than the 600 is. Charlotte is not a place that really beats you up too bad. This place is really hard on you. A road course in Texas in the middle of May is going to be pretty rough as well.
I think all these races kind of strung together that are difficult physical days for us probably prepare us a little bit extra for the next weeks. Q. I know the short tracks haven’t been your best friend. Now you have two this year. Throughout 2021 what have you learned about Greg and this team that might be new to you?ALEX BOWMAN: I don’t really think there’s been a new thing for us. I think we definitely improved our short track program a ton. Richmond was a place we struggled at tremendously. Dover was one of our best racetracks, has been for a long time. I don’t know if we’re really learning new things. We’re definitely gelling really well. Probably doing a little better job of overcoming the rough weeks in between Richmond and here than I would have previously. Just trying to be a little better leader, be a little more upbeat. Bristol, Martinsville, Kansas, Darlington, 2019, 2020, I probably would have been pretty mad all week, miserable to be around, angry about it. Just trying to stay really positive and be a good leader for those guys, do what I can to keep them pumped up. We go to a lot of good places for us. Our weaknesses are shrinking, we’re getting better at the places we struggle at. I feel like we can go about anywhere and win right now. Q. A couple of your teammates had issues with their brakes. Was it an issue of too much tape, track temp or anything like that?ALEX BOWMAN: I haven’t really talked to my teammates to know what they were fighting with. We had massive brake issues. Pretty much had no brakes. Spent a lot of 400 laps pumping the brake pedals up, hoping they were going to work in the next quarter. They worked when it counted. We’ll have to address what was wrong there, what we missed. Never had brake issues before here. Obviously, we had really fast race cars to be able to overcome it. Definitely struggled with that a little more than we would have expected. Q. You’re going to the Circuit of the Americas next week. How tough is it going to be to get a setup for that place, the limited amount of practice time?ALEX BOWMAN: I don’t even know how much practice we do or don’t have. It’s the same for everybody. We just got to go there and try to hit it off the bat. Chase has been there. That’s a big help. It will be crucial to learn from him. It’s crucial to learn from him any time we go to a road course, he’s so good at them.
Just trying to improve. I feel like our weak point is going to be me as a race car driver. I feel if I do my job, do a good job for the team, we’ll have a good, solid day. Q. This time last year the No. 48 was one of the most talked about rides in terms of who was going to fill that seat. How does it feel to vindicate the faith that Mr. H had in you?ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, it’s really cool. To come to a place like Dover, the 48 has had so much success, get a win here, never won here with Mr. Hendrick here, so it’s so cool to be able to do that. Just really neat.
I feel like throughout my career I’ve had my fair share of doubters. To be able to get two wins here to start off the season, be having a good start to the year, is really cool. Q. Mr. H said he took you aside before the season started and said, you can’t be Jimmie Johnson light, we want you to be Alex Bowman. In your words who is Alex Bowman?ALEX BOWMAN: Race car driver/weirdo, awkward human (laughter). I don’t know. I feel like I’m just a regular guy. I obviously really enjoy what I get to do. Put a lot of time and hard work into trying to be the best race car driver I can be. I don’t have any, like, extravagant hobby. I don’t have, like, this super big personality. I’m not a villain like you see some of the other guys. I guess I don’t have that. I just kind of am myself. I like to spend time at home with my dogs. I have a small group of friends. Spend a ton of time at my shop working on the Sprint car stuff. Every day that I’m not at Hendrick Motorsports, I’m in the simulator, at the shop, laying underneath a race car working on it. Yeah, that’s about all there is to it for my life. Q. COTA and the Coke 600, NASCAR will hold practice and qualifying sessions those weekends. Have you missed the extra time at the racetrack? Are you and the drivers ready for the potential to add more sessions onto the schedule now that restrictions are getting lifted?ALEX BOWMAN: I really enjoy the lack of practice. I feel like growing up, you’d show up, get one hot lap session, qualify, heat race, race. Your whole day was like 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and you were done.I enjoy kind of the compact schedule. Mostly looking forward to be able to work with my race team and maximize our race car for Sunday’s race, something we haven’t done in quite a while. It’s going to be cool to be able to do it. I’m not going to lie, I definitely like the schedule we have now for sure. THE MODERATOR: Alex, thanks for joining us this evening. Congratulations on the win. We will see you next week for that practice and qualifying. ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, thank you.