One of the most legendary seats in NASCAR’s modern-day history was filled over winter by Tucson native, Alex Bowman. Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson, retired and vacated the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 at the conclusion of the 2020 season. The 27-year old, Bowman, was given the call to move to the Ally 48 team and shined in his first week in his new whip.
Bowman guided the No. 48 to the pole position in qualifying for the prestigious Daytona 500 on Wednesday, with an average speed of 191.261 mph around the 2.5-mile oval. Bowman attended Ironwood Ridge High School in Tucson and raced both pavement and dirt open-wheel cars, including in the final night of legendary Phoenix race track, Manzanita Speedway.
This is Bowman’s second career pole in the Daytona 500 and his fourth consecutive front row start.
“It doesn’t have a whole lot to do with me,” Bowman said. “This is a testament to the guys back at the shop. This Chevy Camaro has been fast since we unloaded, and we were focused on winning this pole.”
This #BuschPole always means a lot! @Alex_Bowman shares his thoughts on capturing the top spot for the #DAYTONA500. pic.twitter.com/fVFpcoKqTj
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) February 11, 2021
The No. 48 crew was given a scare in the 150-mile Duel on Thursday night when their engine began to misfire. An engine change would force the team to start at the back of the field in Sunday’s 500-mile race. On Saturday, the team crew chief, Greg Ives, stated to FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass, that the engined ceased its misfire later in the duels and no engine change would be necessary.
After the retirement of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bowman was called to take the seat of the No. 88 and scored the 2018 Daytona 500 pole in his first full season with the team. Bowman finished 17th in the Daytona 500 that year and led 13 laps, the most laps Bowman has led in a single Daytona race. The best career Daytona 500 finish for the Tucson-native was 11th place in 2019.
“We make it through every crash until that last one,” Bowman said. “It’s been frustrating to not get a great finish here in the 500. We just have to get through the whole race.”
POLE for the 2021 DAYTONA 500 for @Alex_Bowman, @Ives_Greg and the #Ally48 team! Give this post a like to congratulate the team! pic.twitter.com/OFEsb61E40
— Ally Racing (@allyracing) February 11, 2021
Bowman is the only Arizona native to win a NASCAR Cup Series race and has visited victory lane once in each of the past two seasons.
A Daytona 500 win would make him the 40th driver to hoist the Daytona 500 trophy, which would be the 9th victory for Hendrick Motorsports in the prestigious race. A win would also lock Bowman into the 2021 NASCAR Playoffs earning him an opportunity to race his way to the NASCAR championship at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 7.
The 64th Daytona 500 begins at 12:30 p.m. MST on FOX.
The Ally 48 was bad fast tonight!Everybody at @TeamHendrick works so hard to bring us fast race cars and this pole means a lot. Bring on Sunday ☝? pic.twitter.com/s6XPXzfdaJ
— Alex Bowman (@Alex_Bowman) February 11, 2021