By: Ashley McCubbin
In Alex Bowman’s first four trips to Auto Club Speedway, he was only able to score a single top-20. Then 2020 hit, and a whole different performance took shape as he dominated in pacing 110 laps en route to victory.
Looking back, Bowman says the performance is a result of a good combination in a solid intermediate program with Hendrick Motorsports, along with a the right handle on the car.
Now returning back to the speedway for the first time since two years later, the tides have changed slightly as this marks the first Intermediate event with the NextGen car.
“Nothing from 2020 is going to apply to 2022 I don’t think,” he told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “I wish there was a secret. I think the secret is a fast racecar that works really well. That’s what we had in ’20 and hopefully we have a similar thing in ’22. I think it is going to take a much different balance than it took back then. We are doing our best to make that happen.”
Bowman pointed out he had a really loose but fast car in 2020, which will probably not work with the NextGen car. As seen by both practice and qualifying, it is hard to drive the new car partially sideways due to lack of side force.
“I think kind of going a little different direction than we were then,” he added. “This car is so different every way so it’s hard to apply much. So excited to get back to it. It’s a really fun and technical racetrack.”
Bowman, along with the rest of the field, got a 20-minute practice session ahead of qualifying, to get a feel. Although important track time, the short duration makes it hard for adjustments to be made.
“We’re pretty locked in with what we have when we get there,” he commented. “Hopefully it works out and it’s the right direction because once you get on track you know we don’t have much time to change anything. Looking forward to it. It’s going to be a big challenge and I know I have some of the best in the business working on getting it right.”
So far this weekend, Bowman is off to a decent start as he will take the green flag for the Auto Club 400 in 14th.