Three races into the NASCAR Cup Series season, Alex Bowman has had a near-miss and dominating victory. But he isn’t going to feel secure about his future. Bowman, 26, is in his third full season driving the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, and it is also a contract year.
“Every year is a contract year,” said Bowman after winning at Auto Club Speedway. “Every year of my life in the Cup Series has been a contract year. I’ve had contracts and two weeks before Daytona read a tweet that said I’m not going to Daytona. There’s never a situation that I feel completely comfortable in.
“I feel like if somebody doesn’t want you driving their race car, you’re not going to be there driving it. I’m as motivated as ever, doing everything I can to try to be the best on and off the racetrack as I can be.”
In January 2016, Bowman learned through reading Twitter that he was losing his job at Tommy Baldwin Racing. Later that season, he became Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s substitute driver after Earnhardt suffered a concussion, and Bowman replaced Earnhardt in the No. 88 upon his retirement.
Bowman faced the question in the post-race press conference about whether Sunday’s win will help him at the negotiating table. Crew chief Greg Ives joked that Bowman is going to need “multiple wins,” and they’ll work on doing that.
From his first to second season with Hendrick, Bowman improved his finish in the standings as well as his top-10 and top-five finishes. He now has two career wins in 156 starts, and after leading 200 laps last year, Bowman has already led 113 in the first three races of this season.
“Hendrick Motorsports is where I want to be,” said Bowman. “It’s where I want to stay for the rest of my career. It’s just where I’ve always wanted to be.
“Hopefully, we can make that happen, but like you said, it’s a contract year. But honestly, every year of my career has been a contract year, so it’s not much different than last year.”