CONCORD, N.C. – With on-track activity for the 2024 Chili Bowl Nationals getting underway on Sunday, Alex Bowman will don a different "hat" than the one he wears in the NASCAR Cup Series – that of a team owner. 

For the 30-year-old, the work to prepare for the event in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has taken up much of his offseason to date. 

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"I enjoy putting these cars together," Bowman told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio last month. "I am super hands-on with these cars. It is a big undertaking but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I enjoy spending a lot of time in my shop. 

"It has been a fun Chili Bowl build season as I like to refer to November and December. It will be a fun week racing with my friends and we got Ally on the cars again this year. It is always a good time out there in Tulsa."

Alex Bowman Racing (ABR) is fielding three entries in the prestigious dirt midget race – Jake Swanson (55A), C.J. Leary (55V) and Kevin Thomas Jr. (55X). The three midgets will have Ally, Bowman’s primary partner on the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the Cup Series, onboard as a sponsor. 

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Swanson and Bowman have known each other since they were about eight years old and grew up racing quarter midgets together. He is a veteran racer who has succeeded in the United States Auto Club (USAC) National Sprint Car ranks. Leary is a 2019 USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Champion. Several years ago, he first approached Bowman about driving for him in the Chili Bowl and has done so since 2018. Thomas is also an accomplished sprint car driver in the United States Auto Club (USAC) ranks. As for the team owner, Bowman’s history at the Chili Bowl goes back nearly 10 years and helps bring him back to his racing roots. 

"It has consumed my offseasons since 2015 when we built the first car," Bowman told the DIRTTRACKR Conversations Podcast. "I love building race cars. I love having something to do. I grew up working on all my stuff. Really until I started racing stock cars, I was the primary mechanic, crew chief and all of it on my race cars."

Bowman will not be competing in this year’s event. The 2023 Chili Bowl was his seventh time competing in the event as a driver and the Tucson, Arizona, native reached the D Main. Following two Cup Series seasons that saw Bowman miss time due to a concussion (2022) and fractured vertebrae (2023), he is significantly scaling back his extracurricular racing activity this season to center his focus on racing in NASCAR's premier series. As a team owner, though, Bowman plans to be right in the thick of things when it comes to his cars. 

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"I’m at the bottom of the ramp," Bowman said of where he is positioned for Chili Bowl races with his cars. "I’m the guy changing flats or trying to put radius rods back on or doing whatever. Last year, it was too much of that."

Qualifying nights for the 2024 Chili Bowl will take place from Monday, Jan. 8, to Friday, Jan. 12. Thomas races on Tuesday night, Swanson will run on Wednesday and Leary’s preliminary night will be on Thursday. 

UPDATE: Swanson is locked into the feature on Saturday night, while Thomas and Leary will be in the B Main as they look to advance to join Swanson in the championship event of the Chili Bowl Nationals.

On each qualifying night, there is a combination of heat races, qualifying races and A-B-C Mains. The top two drivers in the Preliminary A Main 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 of how this works, click here