CONCORD, N.C. – Ahead of the NASCAR Cup Series Memorial Day weekend 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Alex Bowman, the No. 48 Ally Racing team and approximately 60 volunteers from Ally took part in a fun and special team-building exercise for a good cause on the Hendrick Motorsports campus.
All told, the effort saw approximately 2,000 care packages with snacks such as pretzels, cookies, candy, and beef jerky as well as hand-written notes to those serving to protect our freedoms put together in a little under 40 minutes. The packing event was held in conjunction with United Service Organizations (USO) and Ally. This year’s event saw two assembly lines formed to build the packages and to add the goodies as participants made their way down a long set of tables.
"It’s always cool," Bowman said of his taking part in this event for the second straight year. "Last year, got a little more competitive. At least giving Greg (Ives, crew chief), the mic instead of putting us on opposite teams toned it down a little bit.
"Just really cool to be able to do anything to show our appreciation."
PHOTOS: See scenes from the day with Alex Bowman and the No. 48 Ally Racing team
The care packages that were assembled on Wednesday will be used to give to deploying service members from the state of North Carolina as they are waiting to be sent out to their assignment.
"It is an amazing cause," Thomas Walker, Lead Programs Manager for the USO of North Carolina, said. For them (Bowman and the 48 team) to stop what they are doing with their professional career, to support the men and women of our country means a lot. To see them have fun doing it, is even more special. You can see a passion of engagement of giving back to the service members which is great."
Ives served as the master of ceremonies as the activity was taking place, playfully ribbing Bowman and the 48 team, while helping to encourage participants and provide packing reminders as the event unfolded.
The No. 48 team now turns its attention to the longest race of the season at Charlotte. This track and tracks of that length have been a solid spot for Bowman and his team both recently and this season.
The 29-year-old enters the race at the 1.5-mile track as one of three drivers – Martin Truex Jr. and Ross Chastain are the others – to grab top-10 finishes on each race at that track length this season (Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway). Bowman won in March at Las Vegas for his seventh career Cup Series victory. In last year’s 600-mile race, the Tucson, Arizona, native finished fifth, which stands as his best finish at Charlotte. He has three top-10 finishes in his last four starts in this particular race.
"We are pretty confident," Bowman said as the team prepares for the longest race of the Cup Series season. "We struggled at Kansas, more so than we would have liked to. I think we can go to Charlotte and be better.
"I enjoy the 600. I think that the training I do away from the race track helps me when it comes to long races like that. Looking forward to the challenge and hopefully we are pretty good."