The Camping World Truck Series will see the return of a seven-time Cup Series winner at Circuit of the Americas. Alex Bowman will make his third start in the series while driving the Spire Motorsports entry.
NASCAR released the initial entry list for the 39-truck field on March 21. The No. 7 entry had a TBA in the driver’s slot, but Motorsport.com’s Jim Utter reported that Bowman will be the driver. The team later confirmed the addition and revealed that HendrickCars.com will serve as Bowman’s primary partner.
Kevin Manion, who won a combined 12 races over two seasons (2004, 2005) and back-to-back Xfinity Series championships with Martin Truex Jr., will serve as the crew chief. He has extensive experience across all three national series, which includes 29 combined trips to Victory Lane.
The Spire Motorsports truck entry is a new addition for the 2022 season, and it has only taken part in one event. Austin Hill drove the No. 7 during the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway and finished 15th overall. Now Bowman will control it while taking on the Texas road course.
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Bowman Only Has 2 Prior Truck Series Starts
While Bowman has 230 Cup Series starts and 53 Xfinity Series starts in his career, he has far less experience in the Truck Series. He has only made two total starts, one in 2015 and one in 2017.
The Arizona native made his Truck Series debut at Michigan International Speedway while driving a JR Motorsports Chevrolet. He started 16th overall and completed all 100 laps en route to an 11th-place finish while Kyle Busch secured the win.
Two years later, Bowman made a second start in the Truck Series while replacing a 17-year-old Justin Haley. He took over the No. 24 GMS Racing entry for the trip to Atlanta Motor Speedway, and he turned in a sixth-place finish while Christopher Bell won for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Bowman also finished one spot behind Chase Elliott, who drove the No. 23 entry for GMS Racing.
Multiple Other Guest Drivers Will Take on COTA
The race at Circuit of the Americas will see the return of Bowman. It will also feature multiple other guest drivers as they try to qualify for the Texas road course. This list includes Kaz Grala, Tyler Hill, Parker Kligerman, Taylor Gray, and Busch.
Gray, who made five starts in 2021 with a runner-up finish at Talladega Superspeedway, will make his season debut with David Gilliland Racing. He will drive the No. 17 after Ryan Preece made two starts and Riley Herbst made one. Similarly, Hill will make his own season debut in the No. 5 Hill Motorsports entry while joining brother Timmy Hill on the track.
Busch will make his second of five Truck Series starts while taking on COTA for the first time in the No. 51. He won the inaugural Xfinity Series race at the road course in 2021, but the 2022 season will provide him with the opportunity to face off with the best drivers in the Truck Series.
Like Busch, Grala will make his second start of the 2022 Truck Series season. He will drive the No. 02 entry for Young’s Motorsports after an engine issue derailed his trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Grala has experience at COTA after taking on the track during the 2021 Truck Series season. He finished second overall behind Todd Gilliland after posting the second-fastest time in qualifying.
Kligerman will round out the list as he makes his second start of the 2022 season. He suited up for Henderson Motorsports at Daytona International Speedway and finished fifth overall in the No. 75. Now he will return for the second Truck Series race at COTA after finishing 13th in 2021.
There is a scenario where some of these drivers miss out on the road course race. There are 39 trucks on the entry list, but only 36 will make the final starting grid. Hill and Gray, in particular, will not have previous performances and points to lean on while trying to secure their spots in the field.
The drivers will take on COTA for the first time on Friday, March 25. They will practice at 3 p.m. ET (FS1) before immediately going into qualifying at 3:30 p.m. ET (FS1). According to NASCAR’s previously-revealed format, qualifying will unfold over two rounds. The first will feature the drivers split into two separate groups for 15-minute timed sessions. The five fastest will move on for the final, 10-minute session that determines the pole winner.