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October 11, 2020

Alex Bowman

Concord, North Carolina

THE MODERATOR: Alex Bowman was the last driver to drive into the Round of 8 on points, driver of the No.88 Valvoline Chevrolet.
Alex, why don't you talk quickly about what it means to race your way into the Round of 8.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, it means a lot to me, but also to my race team. These guys work really hard all year. I feel like sometimes my team at least doesn't get the respect they deserve. I feel like it kind of like validates all their hard work.
Obviously we have a long way to go to try to make the Round of 4 at Phoenix. These guys work so hard, do such a good job, give me such great racecars. I'm really happy for them.
I wish I could have been a little better today. We struggled with our race car quite a bit. Still ended up with a solid top 10, had what we needed there for points.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go to questions for you now.

Q. You called yourself Anxious Alex, feeling sick in the car. Has your lunch calmed down yet now that you made it to the next round?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, welcome to being me. That's just part of my life, I guess. I don't know. I feel like there's plenty of people that can relate to that. It's just something I go through.
Didn't feel too well. My nerves got to me more than I would have liked. I think it's one of those deals under green you're fine, but when it's like caution after caution after caution, sitting there under caution just wasn't feeling so good.
I'm all good now. Definitely was nervous, though.

Q. Everything stayed down, right?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, yeah. I have this bright white fire suit, literally all white with a Valvoline logo. You guys would be able to tell if it didn't (smiling).

Q. Last time we were at Kansas you came home eighth in that, had fifth at the last mile‑and‑a‑half, Las Vegas. How do you feel the Round of 8 rolls out for you? Is Martinsville a concern?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, yeah, it is. We've had some okay days at Martinsville. We've greatly improved our short track program this year. We went to Richmond where we finished 26th last year or something like that, and we finished top 10, ran top 10 all day.
Definitely not as nervous about Martinsville as I would have been a couple years ago. Yeah, I mean, I think that's probably our weakest racetrack that we go to. The mile‑and‑a‑half's, through the summer we really struggled, but at the beginning of the year and lately we've been really strong at.
Kansas in particular, we've almost won there before. I feel like we can go be phenomenal there. Kansas and Texas are two opportunities for us to win. Every week going to the racetrack with Hendrick Motorsports is an opportunity to win. Kansas and Texas are going to be our best shots at it for sure.
It's probably going to take a win to make the Round of 4. Just going to go all in and do everything we can to make that happen.

Q. Why is Chase so good at road courses?
ALEX BOWMAN: I can go faster than him in the simulator. Does that count (laughter)?
I don't know. If I knew, I would do it and be as good as him. We obviously can see everything that that team does. The four teams at Hendrick Motorsport are transparent, share all their info, work so well together. Chase is an open book. I could ask him.
I don't know what he does so differently. I spent a lot of time in the simulator this week running both setups and trying to understand the differences between what we've been successful with here and what he's been successful with here. They drive completely different. Obviously he's had a little better end result than we have, but we've still had good results with ours.
I don't know. We went more their direction today. I probably struggled with the race car more than I ever have today. I feel like you could plug me in the 9 car and it wouldn't go as fast as Chase makes it. He's got it dialed in when it comes to the road courses right now.

Q. On a serious note, I don't know if I don't listen to your radio closely enough each week. Is your anxiety something that actually happens to you during races in the race car weekly or kind of a rare occurrence?
ALEX BOWMAN: I feel like it's not super common in the race car. Before races and high‑pressure situations you'll have that, I guess. I feel like I was just really stressed out. It means a lot to me to make the Round of 8. Was really something I felt like with the points situation we were in we had to do. With the race team that Mr. H has given me and put me with, all the resources we have, I feel like it was pretty necessary to make the Round of 8.
I don't know. It means a lot to me and I put a lot of pressure on myself to make that happen.

Q. Did it make any difference having the 48 news out in the open this week or did it not really matter?
ALEX BOWMAN: To be honest with you, that probably helped distract me through the majority of the week. Just being able to talk about something else, not being so caught up in a points situation.
It's just tough, man. You come to the Roval, stressful. It's a cutoff week, stressful. You're surrounded in points by champions of the sport, extra stressful. You're trying to beat Kyle Busch, and it's going to rain. It's like how many stressful elements can you add to one thing?
Being able to talk about something else was definitely helpful this week, I feel like.

Q. It seems like you and your team are starting to find the speed that's made you such a threat early in the year. What have been some of the keys to the team's turnaround during the Playoffs?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yes, I don't feel like we're back to where we were early in the year still. We were dominating every week, it felt like. We gave a lot of races away, but we led a ton of laps there from I guess Fontana all the way through, like, second Charlotte. We were on it every single week. Race car capable of winning every single week.
We're not all the way back there. We've made a ton of gains and we're close, but we're not all the way there. I think the biggest thing that has helped us get pointed back in the right direction after the rough summer is each and every individual on the 88 team, and at Hendrick Motorsport, but specifically on the 88 team, staying positive, working hard and working well together.
We've had some new faces on the team. It's really easy to get along when things are going well like the beginning of the year. When things start going wrong, like they did through the summer, it's so easy for a team to fall apart.
I never once saw, heard, had to deal with any team‑falling‑apart‑ism. They just worked hard and stuck together and kept learning, kept improving. It's got us back on track.

Q. Given the fact they've been able to reconcile some of the growing pains, which tracks do you feel are your best chance given it's the show up and race format lately?
ALEX BOWMAN: Kind of like I said before, Kansas and Texas. I feel like our cars are really strong at Martinsville. There's something as a race car driver that I am missing a little bit of. I feel like I've been able to gain on it. We were better this time around. Came from a lot of studying, leaning on the guy that's sitting in the media center. Kind of like trying to catch him on a road course, catch him at Martinsville. I feel like those first two are our best shots. We're plenty capable of getting it done.
THE MODERATOR: Alex, thanks for joining us today. Good luck as the Round of 8 starts next week.
ALEX BOWMAN: Thanks, guys.

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