Sunday afternoon, Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman held off his three teammates at Dover International Speedway and took the checkered flag. This win marked his second of the season, the final year of his current deal with HMS. However, owner Rick Hendrick made it very clear that Bowman is not going anywhere.
Speaking with NASCAR media members after the race, Hendrick provided an update about the contract talks. Bowman signed a one-year extension prior to the 2021 season to keep him with the team, but he will become a free agent once again after November’s final race. Hendrick has no plans to let Bowman reach the open market.
“We’ve already started. It should be done any time,” Hendrick said about the contract talks. “We want Alex there. He wants to be there. It’s kind of at this point just a formality.” Hendrick also confirmed that this new deal will be for multiple years.
“I want to continue to work with Ally and drive the 48 car,” Bowman added during his own media availability. “Like he said, we’ve been working on it. I think I want to be there, they want me to drive their race car. It’s cool to have a guy like Rick Hendrick say he wants you to continue driving his race car. It means a lot to me.”
Bowman is Impressing During the 2021 Season
A seven-year veteran of the Cup Series, Bowman entered the 2021 season with two wins on his resume. He took the checkered flag at Chicago in 2019 and then reached Victory Lane at Auto Club Speedway. Bowman also posted a combined 16 top-five finishes during his first three seasons with HMS.
The Arizona native has continued to impress since replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Ally Racing Chevrolet Camaro. He has three top-five finishes in 13 races, as well as a career-high two wins. His stat line includes securing the organization’s first win at Richmond since 2008.
“First of all, Ally, the sponsor, we’re great partners in the car business and in racing,” Hendrick added on Sunday night. “When you say ‘you have to replace Jimmie Johnson,’ they were more than willing and wanted to let Alex have a chance.
“I told Alex, ‘You’ve got to be your own guy. You can’t be Jimmie Johnson light. You got to be Alex Bowman, just do your deal. We are going to be there with you and you’re going to do great.'”
A Steady Presence has Helped Bowman Find Success at HMS
While Bowman spent the first two seasons of his Cup Series career with a smaller team, he has been with HMS for four full-time years and a partial season in 2016. During this time, he has worked with one important person that has helped keep him on the track to future success — crew chief Greg Ives.
The former lead engineer during five of Johnson’s championship runs, Ives first started working with Bowman in 2016 when the young driver was temporarily replacing an injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. Once Bowman joined HMS on a full-time basis, he joined forces with Ives once again. The two men have continued working together ever since, resulting in a very successful relationship.
“The number one thing when it comes to a driver and my philosophy is the ability to learn,” Ives told media members on Sunday. “There’s things that go on in my head, sometimes it’s hard for me to talk about them or tell Alex. That’s why he calls me the Riddler. Ultimately I get to the point where I just tell him what I want and he does it.
“Today we were working through some brake pressure stuff, talked him through it. He didn’t get upset about it. I wasn’t trying to make him upset, I was trying to make him aware. Ultimately, you have to that have a relationship of trust. If he understands and knows what I’m looking at, he has the ability to respond the proper way in the car. When we get out, there’s no hard feelings. We just go on our way and have fun again the next week trying to overcome either a bad race or a race win.”
The two men will continue working on their relationship while taking on an unfamiliar track. The Cup Series season continues with a trip to Circuit of the Americas in Texas. This road course presents a new challenge for all of the drivers, but Bowman and Ives will use their history together to seek success.