CONCORD, N.C. – When Alex Bowman gets behind of the wheel of the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, it will mark his first start in the series in four years.
Bowman will be the second Hendrick Motorsports driver to take a turn behind the wheel of the team’s Xfinity entry when the series travels to the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 14-turn, 2.439-mile layout is also being run in the NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS Radio Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio-channel 90).
The 29-year-old has one win in the Xfinity Series. The victory came in 2017 in the fall race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"We have been lucky to get the opportunity to make extra laps this weekend which just helps come time for the Cup race on Sunday," Bowman said. "COTA (Circuit of The Americas) was a great example of how it can help us – running the Spire (Motorsports) truck and taking notes on the track helped in our efforts on Sunday, so I am eager to get out there and get some practice in. Our team is doing everything we can to get better and this is another opportunity for us to maximize our weekend."
The Tucson, Arizona, native has logged extra seat time on road courses in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season with Spire Motorsports. At COTA, he was in the top three on the last lap before he was caught up in an incident on the last lap. In the next day’s Cup race, he finished second. Bowman also ran the Truck Series event at Sonoma Raceway where he was caught up in a late wreck after spending much of the race in the top five. In the Cup Series race at the California road course, the seven-time Cup winner spent a large portion of the race in the top 10 before losing track position while trying to avoid a late-race spin by Kyle Busch.
While he has yet to win on a road course, Bowman's 14.91 average finish in 22 serpentine layout starts in the Cup Series ranks is the ninth-best among active drivers. Among his nine top-10 finishes are two runner-up showings (COTA in 2022 and the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL in 2019).
Much like Bowman’s forays into the Truck Series ranks this year, the main impetus behind the team’s Xfinity program is to get drivers more seat time on road courses and tracks with unique configurations.
Kyle Larson was the first to pilot the No. 17 this year. He sat on the pole at Road America and finished second in the team’s first start in the series since 2009. Bowman's turn at Indianapolis marks the second event for the team. William Byron will drive the car at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 20 in the third and final start for the organization this season. Competition development manager Kevin Meendering is serving as the team’s crew chief.
"We gave drivers the opportunity to give us input on tracks where they felt like they needed more laps or more repetition," Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports told HendrickMotorsports.com last month. "Obviously, road courses are something to where the timing of the brake and throttle and getting yourself familiar with that environment is helpful. So they came back to us with all of the road course events. We went to JRM (JR Motorsports) and got them in cars that they had available for certain road course events and the ones that they didn’t, we decided to do those ourselves."
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The organization has tallied 26 wins in the series with Tony Stewart earning the last win-to-date for the team in 2009 at Daytona International Speedway. The No. 17 car number for the Xfinity races carries special significance to the Hendrick Motorsports family as it was the number that the late Ricky Hendrick drove over two seasons in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series from 2000 to 2001. The paint scheme is based on the truck he drove those seasons, including in his win at Kansas Speedway.
Tune in to watch Bowman and the No. 17 team battle on Saturday at "The Brickyard" at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS Radio Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (channel 90).