CONCORD, N.C. – Alex Bowman has high goals when it comes to competing for a championship this year. The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will embark on his third playoff appearance starting Sunday and will take his experiences from last year’s playoff appearance and apply it to the 2020 postseason.
Bowman was eliminated during the Round of 12 last year. Instead of harping on what could have been, Bowman is revamping his strategy to avoid any incidences on the bigger tracks.
“I think the biggest thing we learned was just to stay out of trouble at Talladega, that’s really what did it to us,” Bowman said. “We need to stay out of the crashes there - (we) threw a block that we just shouldn’t have thrown while leading and that put us in the fence. (We) got to avoid that.”
Just like last year, Talladega will be in the middle of the Round of 12 for this year's playoffs. Bowman has had success at the superspeedways this season. He finished in seventh at Talladega in June and placed seventh last Saturday at Daytona. However, he knows better than to get comfortable with a superspeedway.
“I think going into Talladega, even if you won the last speedway race, it’s hard to be super confident just with how things happen there and how hard it is to stay out of everybody else’s mess,” Bowman said. “It’s easy to get caught up in somebody else’s mess and ruin your day, so we got to avoid that.”
The 27-year-old driver said pushing past the Round of 12 will be a huge accomplishment in itself. It was his goal last year to make it to the Round of 8 before he suffered the huge setback at Talladega. Should Bowman make it that far, he said he will feel a little more comfortable at the Round of 8 venues of Kansas, Texas and Martinsville.
“Going to the Round of 8 tracks, I feel like they’re really good tracks for us,” he said. “We struggled a little bit at Texas in the regular season but the other two were pretty solid for us. But I think we’re really confident anytime we go to Texas and Kansas, as well as Martinsville, and we can go be strong and content to get in the Round of 4.”
Bowman was one of the first drivers to earn his playoff berth this year after he won the third race of the season at Auto Club Speedway at the beginning of March. The pressure was off when it came to making it to the postseason, allowing Bowman to not feel panicked as the regular season drew to a close.
“It was good to get locked into the playoffs early in the year,” he said. “Fontana was a pretty easy weekend for us. We didn’t make any changes to the race car, had a really strong car off the truck. That was really good, obviously, and the race we won by quite a bit. … I really enjoyed that day and it allowed for us to know we were locked into the playoffs.”
Watch Bowman rev his engine in his third playoff appearance starting at Darlington this Sunday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.