CONCORD, N.C. – It was an eventful night for Alex Bowman during his preliminary qualifying night at the Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the NASCAR Cup Series got behind the wheel of his dirt midget – the No. 55X for Alex Bowman Racing.
Things started off well as he won his first heat race. Bowman's third-place run in the fourth of four qualifying races (thanks to the formula and passing points) helped position him for a start inside the top-four for the night’s featured race.
However, an incident early in the night’s main event between Bowman and Daison Pursley ended his night. The result left him heading to the E Main in Saturday’s "Alphabet Soup" ahead of the championship event that evening.
"We were really fast all night," Bowman told journalist Matt Weaver. "The car has been phenomenal. All these guys have this thing really dialed in and I think that is good for (teammates) C.J. (Leary) and Jake (Swanson). The 25 extra laps last night (in the Invitational Race of Champions, where he finished 12th) helped me get more comfortable being a little more aggressive. We had a shot to contend for a win or a podium but Daison (Pursley) spun out in front of us and I had nowhere to go. That’s part of racing sometimes."
So what is Bowman’s path to the title race/A Main on Saturday?
The 29-year-old will have to finish in the top five to advance from his E Main (15 laps) to reach the D Main (15 laps). From there, he will need to finish in the top five of the D Main to reach one of the two C Mains (15 laps). Next, he’d need to finish in the top five of his particular C Main to reach one of the two B Mains (20 laps). Seven drivers will advance from each B Main to the championship A Main. For more on the format, click here.
This year’s Chili Bowl Nationals marks the seventh time that the Tucson, Arizona, native is competing in the event as a driver. He is also wearing the dual hat of being a team owner as Alex Bowman Racing will field three entries 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, is a partner for the three Chili Bowl entries.
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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 last month. "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."