CONCORD, N.C. -- Alex Bowman admitted it himself: He must be better this season.
The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE won his first Cup Series race last year at Chicagoland, but was unable to put the exclamation point on several other close races to end up in Victory Lane. Bowman said the solution is simple: Win more.
“I think we ran second four or five times last year, so definitely need to get more wins on the board,” Bowman said. “(We need to) be more consistently in the top five and top 10 and eliminate the bad weeks. (Being) back in Victory Lane would be cool.
“There were plenty of races that we had cars capable of winning that we just didn’t capitalize on last year. So, we just have to be better and be more consistent, so we are ready for those opportunities.”
The first opportunity will come up on Feb. 16 at the DAYTONA 500. Bowman, who was on the front row last season, said while getting a good qualifying spot in the race is big, it’s the cars that make the difference.
“Obviously, qualifying at Daytona doesn’t really have much to do with me and much more about the race car and all the preparation that goes into it at the shop,” he said. “I am looking forward to seeing what we have there, as I am sure it will be strong. Our superspeedway cars always are. We have qualified up front there, but I just would like to finish a little closer to the front than we have the last couple years.”
Like any craft, Bowman said practice makes perfect. Not only has he been working on fine tuning his techniques in races, he added that his cars have seen improvements. The highs and lows from last year have made Bowman focus on big improvements during the offseason.
“It’s tough. I feel that our weakness was really our short track program and just consistency. We would have a 25th place run one week and go out the next week and finish second. Then the next week we would be back to 25th. We just can’t have that,” he said.
“A lot of that comes from improving the race cars. We need to start races better. We have been starting off bad, but making improvements throughout the race and typically end up with a pretty decent finish. Those first two stages we lose out on a lot of stage points. I know that we are working on trying to figure out why we are starting so poorly. With this new Chevrolet body, hopefully that helps us out at those short tracks.”
Greg Ives, Bowman's crew chief, echoed the 26-year-old's sentiments and said getting into a steady rhythm will lead to success.
“I think consistently staying strong throughout the year; that’s the number one key. We were able to show over the course of four, five or six weeks that we were consistently being able to finish second, be in contention to lead laps and those types of things," Ives said.
"But we did struggle in the first stages and that’s usually with our qualifying effort. We always elected to have a better race package than a qualifying package, and trying to understand how to start a little better in stage one of the qualifying package and correlate that to the race. So, consistency throughout the whole season, I think, is key. You run in the top-10 long enough, you’re going to run in the top-five and be in more contention for wins.”
Bowman, along with his fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammates, will be geared up for The Clash Sunday. He'll then have a chance to start out hot the following weekend at the DAYTONA 500.