CONCORD, N.C. – Early Thursday morning, Alex Bowman had one more very important phone call to make.
He was about to be officially named the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet starting in 2018, and there was someone he wanted to make sure to tell – his grandmother.
Loretta Bowman, however, didn’t hear her phone ring.
“When Alex called me, it was 5 o’clock in the morning here (in Tucson, Arizona),” she explained. “I was in the pool and I didn't know he'd called.”
“I don’t know who gets in the pool at 5:15 in the morning, but apparently she does,” her grandson laughed.
But 90 minutes later, she called him back, and Alex broke the good news – he would be taking over Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Nationwide Chevy next year.
Her reaction was priceless.
"Can I tell you, I felt like I was going over the moon,” Loretta said. “Remember the old nursery rhyme about the cow that jumped over the moon? I felt like I got stuck on the top of it and didn't know how to get down because I was so excited.”
The phone call meant the world to Loretta, who said that her “very busy” grandson “always makes time for me.”
And deep down, she had always dreamed this day would come.
“In the back of my mind all this time I was hoping because he's so happy with Hendrick Motorsports. And I wanted him to be happy in his career,” she said. “You know, this is a really big thing to be able to drive Mr. Earnhardt's car. So, I was just hoping all along and it was like, 'Oh my gosh, miracles do happen.' I was just so happy for him."
"She's probably my biggest supporter."Alex Bowman on his grandmother, Loretta
Loretta heard the news early, but Alex joked that there was a reason he waited until the day of the announcement to fill her in.
“My grandmother has this thing where she can’t keep a secret,” he smiled. “We’ve told her some things in the past that got out very quickly.”
Upon hearing that, Loretta let out a giant laugh.
“It would have been tough,” she said of keeping the secret. “But if he had asked me to, I would have. I would’ve bitten my tongue off.”
As word spread around her hometown following the announcement, Loretta’s phone began to ring off the hook.
And her unique ringtones – a dog barking for phone calls and a duck quacking for text messages – made for some interesting moments at the hairdresser and allergist as she ran her errands.
“My phone just went crazy,” she smiled. “Everybody here is just overjoyed.”
“She said people started calling her, so that’s pretty cool,” Alex said. “She’s probably my biggest supporter. She goes to a lot of races, so it’s going to be a lot of fun. She’s going to have a blast, I’m sure.”
Loretta agreed wholeheartedly.
"Let me tell you something,” the 83-year-old said. “I'm an old lady who made my living as a travel agent and now I'm sitting here doing nothing, waiting for Alex's races so I can go every weekend. I'm not going to miss any. I'm not.
“I will be at every race and if I'm not there, you can assume that I'm half dead, because I wouldn't miss this for all the tea in China."