CONCORD, N.C. – Alex Bowman will race in the Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, running from Jan. 8-14. The event is the most prestigious in the midget racing world and brings with it the famed Golden Driller.
For Bowman, this will mark his seventh time competing in the event as a driver. However, he is also wearing the dual hat of being a team owner. Alex Bowman Racing will field three entries at the Chili Bowl with Bowman driving the 55X car, while Jake Swanson (55A) and C.J. Leary (55V) will also pilot rides for his team. Ally, which is his primary partner in the NASCAR Cup Series, will also be a partner for the three Chili Bowl entries.
The frenzied atmosphere of a week of dirt midget racing makes for quite an event – one that Bowman embraces and loves to be a part of.
"I love the Chili Bowl for the atmosphere, the people," Bowman told HendrickMotorsports.com. "Pretty sure you could take the racetrack out of the building and I would still love it as much as I do. Just being able to go racing with my friends is a lot of fun.
"We have high expectations but not to the point where we make it not fun for ourselves. We do a pretty good job of being lighthearted and having a good time throughout the week."
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The event is literally a labor of love for Bowman, who spends plenty of time at his shop getting the entries built, prepped and ready for the festivities.
"Winning the Chili Bowl would be really special as an owner or a driver," Bowman said. "To be the winner and be the one that walks out of there with the (Golden) Driller would be really special."
Bowman will take to the track for his qualifying night on Tuesday. Through a combination of heat races, qualifying races and A-B-C Mains, the top two drivers in the Preliminary A Main feature will advance to Saturday’s featured event. If a driver doesn’t qualify that way, they are subject to what is known as "alphabet soup" on Saturday, where drivers have to work their way up from their assigned main (based on their preliminary qualifying night result) to try and make the A Main. For a full rundown on how this works, click here. In addition, Bowman will participate in Monday's 25-lap Invitational Race of Champions.
Bowman’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson has won the featured event twice – in 2020 and 2021. Bowman’s new crew chief, Blake Harris, also has a link to the Chili Bowl. Harris' dad is running multiple entries in the event. While the two have yet to run a Cup Series race together as driver-crew chief, the new No. 48 team leader is sure there will be some friendly, competitive banter between them.
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"Alex is just as competitive as I am when it comes to the dirt racing," Harris told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio this week. "We both share the passion for the dirt side as well. My dad’s cars (and Alex’s) will be competing different nights against each other. I’m sure I’ll make it down the tail end of the week and hopefully everybody will have everything figured out so I can just show up and give them all a hard time on whoever is not beating whoever.
"… We were talking just the other day when he was in here, he was right behind one of my dad’s cars in a B-Main last year. They were literally, out of all the cars there, running whatever position next to each other. I’m sure that will happen again. That’s just how it works out. We also talk a lot about everything that’s going on. He loves the builds of those cars and he puts a lot of time and effort and pride into being able to build one of the nicest pieces. I’m always asking him questions about what he is doing and the builds there. I would say it is certainly a friendly competition."