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February 9, 2020

Alex Bowman

Daytona Beach, Florida

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Alex Bowman, driver of the No.88 Valvoline Chevrolet, who will be starting second in next Sunday's Daytona 500 here at Daytona International Speedway. This is the third time Alex has started on the front row for the Daytona 500, and he has been on the front row for four of the last five races here at Daytona. We will open it up to questions.

Q. The front row is becoming a very familiar place for you. Could you talk about this? This has got to be another terrific outing.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, for sure. Obviously coming down here for 500 qualifying, everybody at HMS puts so much effort into these speedway cars. As a race car driver there's not much you can do to make them go faster, but you can sure screw them up, so at least I didn't do that.
Just proud of all the guys back at the shop, chassis shop, fab shop. We brought four really good race cars, obviously Hendrick engines and the 47, as well.
Proud of all those guys. I think we're going to have a great race car in the race. Our Clash car has been driving really well, as well. Just excited to be back here with the new Camaro body. I think that's going to be really great for us, and the Valvoline car looks really cool, so it's been a good weekend so far.

Q. Was there any point in your lap where you were like kind of knew it just wasn't there or did you think you had it?
ALEX BOWMAN: Well, getting off of Turn 2, there's a flag at the end of the back straightaway that you can see and kind of see where the wind is at and what it's doing, and the car kind of fell on its face off of Turn 2, and you could see the flag was pointed straight at me, so I knew we had a really big headwind. I wasn't really aware of where the winds were for all the other guys, so I was a little worried about that, but obviously didn't hurt us too bad. Would have liked to have been a little better, but still pretty good.

Q. Alex, is it too soon to tell the difference between the two Chevrolets from last year to this year?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yes and no. I feel like we maybe had a little glimpse of the differences in Clash practice. We drafted a little bit, not a ton, but definitely did a little bit. We'll just have to wait and see. I think how the Clash goes will be a good indication, and then obviously Duels and 500 practice and all that. But I think it looks great. It's been really great on track so far. We've had it on the racetrack once, and it qualified one, two, three, four, so obviously it's working pretty good so far.

Q. You probably haven't had the benefit of this, but we were seeing the Dartfish on FOX. You launched a car length and a half, two car lengths better than him, and it appears what you were talking about sort of came up and got you; by the time you guys got to the line at the warmup lap, you were almost back to equal again. Any frustration that you did everything you could do, the team has done this all year long, and it came up to a puff of wind in your face to take it away?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I didn't know that, so I'll take it, though, for sure. I guess if I had a good launch, that's great to hear. That's really the one thing you can do at these speedways qualifying is just try to dial in your launch. It used to be a lot more difficult than it is now. With the actual restrictor plates, the engines literally wouldn't want to take off, and they would kind of stumble and not want to go, and it was all about slipping the clutch, where now with more power they're a little easier to get up to speed, and it's more about minimizing wheel spin and just hitting your shifts right.
Glad I did good there. Disappointed that we didn't get the pole, but still, to qualify second, third year in a row on the front year here for the 500, it's just all about all the hard work that the 88 guys put in back at the shop all winter. It's really cool for them.

Q. Any frustration that all that work, it looked like everything was perfect, it was lined up, you had the pole, and just simply Mother Nature, a puff of wind takes it away?
ALEX BOWMAN: Oh, that's all right. They call me "Bad Luck" Bowman, right, so the wind got me. But who knows. I mean, they may have just had a faster car, and it may have just looked like that.
No, I'm sure everybody was fighting different winds. It's Daytona. It's a windy place, so you can always kind of see that. No, I'm not frustrated at all. We're on the front row for the Daytona 500.

Q. Just curious, during your drafting session yesterday, what did you glean from the new car? Does it feel any different drafting in a pack?
ALEX BOWMAN: I definitely think there were some differences that Chase and I picked up on pretty quickly. I'm going to keep those to myself and hopefully be able to use them to our advantage. But it definitely had some differences. And you know, really just the evolution of the cars, I feel like every speedway race there's some differences, and you pick up on definite things that work and don't work and whatnot.
I think the car was really good. But it was a really small pack, so it's hard to say. Even the Clash is still a pretty small pack to figure out what your car is going to do. I think next Sunday is when we'll really know, but it's been looking really good so far.

Q. And secondly, with so many driver changes over the course since last year, how do you prepare yourself to know who's behind the wheel of what car? Do you rely a lot on your spotter? Do you study the paint schemes? Because who you dance with on Sunday, a lot of that determines how you'll get to the front.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I can't really rely on my spotter too well for that. He calls the car numbers wrong all the time. So like at practice yesterday, he called like the 38 or the 36 the 12 like three times, so it was really funny.
But I think by next Sunday, we'll kind of have ‑‑ every driver will have that figured out, but it is different coming down here with so many different people driving different race cars. But yeah, tell Kevin Hamlin I said that he's bad at reading numbers sometimes.

Q. Everybody says Daytona is kind of a one‑off; it doesn't really tell you what the rest of the year will be like. Have you seen anything to indicate that these Chevrolets will not be good going forward as they are right now today?
ALEX BOWMAN: No. I think everything has been really positive. You know, everything that Chevrolet and all the Chevy teams and everybody at HMS have put into this new car, we're all very performance driven, and we're not going to do things if we don't think they're going to be better. Obviously everything has been really positive so far. Today has been positive. Hopefully this afternoon goes well.
But when we get to Vegas, we'll really see what we have. I would say that Daytona is not the greatest indicator of how your year is going to go, but at the same time, everything has been really positive so far.

Q. You mentioned you're "Bad Luck" Bowman. You got the qualifying thing figured out. Do we just need a little dose of positive luck for "Bad Luck" to have a chance to win this race?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I guess. That's really‑‑ all my friends call me "Bad Luck" Bowman, and they Photoshopped my face on the Bad Luck Brian meme. I don't know if you've seen that one. But superspeedway racing, everybody wants to say it's all about luck. It's really not. It's really about how you position yourself throughout the day, and sometimes luck comes involved in it and you get caught up in somebody else's mess or something happens right in front of you or whatever, but it's really about how you position yourself and what you do throughout the day, what situations you put yourself in.
I would love to be a super lucky person. Obviously I'm pretty lucky to get to drive a race car for a living. Sometimes I think situations could go better for me, but I think it's more about the situations you put yourself in.

Q. Are you "Bad Luck" Bowman just because of plate stuff or just in general?
ALEX BOWMAN: No, it's like life things. My best friends are mean. They are mean to me. I'm sure you've seen the Bad Luck Brian in like the plaid and‑‑ so my face is on that, yeah. There's one of that with my face on it, and my friends write on it all the time and send it in our group chat. So yeah, that's what‑‑ I surround myself with great people. That's what I get to live with.
But no, it's just what they call me, and we laugh about it all the time.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for joining us, and good luck next Sunday.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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