CONCORD, N.C. -- For Alex Bowman, the Chili Bowl is the last big event of the offseason before the NASCAR Cup Series year begins.
The 27-year-old driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE has competed in the event in the past but has decided to field two drivers for the 2021 event. As the owner of Alex Bowman Racing, he will have C.J. Leary and Jake Swanson at the helm of his two midget race cars.
“They’ve both been extremely successful over the years, between podiums on prelim nights and really good runs on Saturdays,” Bowman said of his drivers. “I think I need to do my part and give them the race cars they need to go run well.”
Bowman said even though he loves racing in the Chili Bowl, it proved to be chaotic competing in the event while managing a team. He decided that Swanson and Leary’s experiences in the race gave him the opportunity to focus solely on the ownership side of his program.
“Chili Bowl is a ton of luck, and really a ton of about your draw and how your prelim night goes,” Bowman said. “Hopefully, that goes well in both cases, but they’re both plenty capable of running up front and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Last year, Bowman tried to participate while Leary was racing in a different event at the same time. Bowman called the experience “pretty hectic” and added he was too short staffed to both race and manage at team.
“It was a little rough,” Bowman admitted. "This year, I can focus on the race cars. I also think having two drivers (who) can really help each other quite a bit is going to be really good instead of C.J. just kind of trying to help me through the week and (getting) me back to speed in those race cars.”
According to Bowman, it's the camaraderie that the Chili Bowl brings that makes the event so special. He’s able to bring a small group to the Tulsa, Oklahoma, event and catch up with friends whom he normally doesn’t see throughout the year.
“It’s really more about the week and being around each other and how we run,” Bowman said. “It’s really hard to go try win that race racing once a year. We’ve been very competitive over the years but, at the same time, it’s just so much fun to be in that atmosphere for a week. I really enjoy it.”
The Chili Bowl begins Monday, Jan. 11 and runs through Saturday, Jan. 16. and can be streamed through Speed51.TV.