Ally announced on April 12 that Alex Bowman would head to Darlington Raceway for Throwback Weekend with a special scheme honoring Mark Martin. This was a fitting choice considering that Bowman sees some similarities in their personalities that start on the race track and extend into their personal lives.
“He’s a racer, and I think we have a lot of similarities. He’s got a lot of OCD. Like you look at his Instagram and stuff and how clean he keeps his bus and everything,” Bowman told Heavy ahead of the trip to Darlington. “My office looks terrible now. I’ve got boxes and helmets and stuff behind me. But for the most part, I’m a little bit similar to that. And you know, I think it’s just really cool everything he did in his career and kind of the way he did it being so mechanically involved.”
It would have been difficult for Bowman to select just one Martin car, especially considering that he thinks it would be funny to use the Viagra scheme from 2004. Fortunately, he did not have to stress about it. Ally played a major role in selecting the Valvoline car that Martin used to achieve a lot of success.
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Darlington Presents a Different Challenge for Bowman
Bowman is fresh off a top-five finish at Dover Motor Speedway in which he rebounded from an ill-timed caution flag that dropped him and Kyle Busch back to the middle of the pack. Now he will head to Darlington Raceway, a track where he has nine previous starts with a career-best finish of second overall in 2020.
Bowman has dealt with some past issues at Darlington, but he is currently in the midst of a strong season. He has seven top-10 finishes in the first 11 races, putting him on pace to surpass his career-best of 16 from the 2021 season. He also has one win and an average finish of 10.5.
“Yeah, I think we’ve been pretty good lately,” Bowman said. “Couple Darlington races, I’ve hit the wall really early and ruined our chances for the rest of the day. So gotta avoid that. But looking forward to it, it’s going to be a challenge. I think you’re going to see a ton of people crash race cars. Pretty much everybody spun out at least multiple times at the previous test there.
“So [I’m] just trying to avoid that, trying to keep it out of the fence, and have a good clean solid day. It’s a shorter Darlington race, but still a long race. Any race at Darlington’s long. Sure it’s gonna be hot and slick, and hopefully, we can be upfront at the end of it.”
Bowman Continues To Adjust His Driving Style
The Gen 7 era has been an adjustment for Bowman. He is someone that prefers to have a loose race car that he can slide around the track. This is how he won at Auto Club Speedway in 2020. However, the new cars require a tighter set up, and there is little room for error. The slightest slip-up can send a driver into the wall and end their day.
Bowman has adjusted to the tighter setup preferred by his teammates at Hendrick Motorsports, but he has been able to keep his car a little on the looser side. This will change at Darlington Raceway as he strives to pursue a win.
“I mean, some places, I feel like we’ve been able to get the car pretty free,” Bowman said. Dover, I was wanting to be freer all day until we got clean air, then we were probably a little too free in clean air. Darlington is going to be a place where I think you’ve got to be pretty secure and snug all day to have success. So just trying to find that right balance. It’s hard to predict and have notes to fall back on.”
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