Alex Bowman is a driver that no matter what he seems to do or how many times he does something people say he can’t do, people still doubt him. Bowman has always been viewed as the weak link within the Hendrick Motorsports garage and has always been a driver that people say can be replaced with someone better. While Bowman’s career has been very average he has shown moments where he can prove that he is more than average and a driver that can someday contend for a title.
With the departure of Jimmie Johnson, Bowman was given the #48 car along with the Ally sponsor for the 2021 season. This is a big seat to fill, the number belonging to a 7 time champion, something that only 2 other drivers have done in the history of the sport. These are big shoes to fill for the driver that many say is the worst of the 4 drivers on the team.
Bowman started the season strong by starting the season on pole, sadly the race ended with Bowman being involved in the first big crash of the day just 13 laps into the race. He would then not contend for a race win until he won the first race of the season at Richmond where he capitalized off a race caution falling his way and setting him up for a good final run towards the checkered flag. Bowman would then go on to lead the train of Hendrick cars across the line in a historic 1,2,3,4 finish at Dover for his second win of the season. Bowman would then go on to race his way to the front and not look back at Pocono to grab the first win of the weekend’s double header and his third race win of the season.
After this amazing stretch from Bowman people started to talk about him as a legitimate contender in the middle of a career breakout season but sadly, unlike his teammate Kyle Larson, Bowman would not be able to keep his hot streak going. The spring of Alex Bowman came to an end and as the season carried on Bowman would finish lower and lower and was never really seen as a contender for race wins, or the championship for that matter. For the first time all season, a driver with 3 race wins was not seen as someone who can win a championship.
The season would get worse as the Fall months rolled in and playoffs came Alex Bowman would fall closer and closer to the playoff line with nothing but his race win bonus points keeping him afloat. Bowman just could not string any sort of a run together when it mattered most. The playoff system that prides itself on making wins mean more, failed someone who managed to win more than almost anyone in the garage all season. A DNF at Talladega would be the final straw on the season putting Bowman into a must win situation going into the Roval, a track that he is not known to be very good at. 10th place would not be enough to get above the cut line despite Kevin Harvick taking himself out of the playoffs and would be the end of Alex Bowen’s championship hopes. Someone who started so hot cooled off so fast and eventually fell out of contention completely at the end of the season.
Bowman now has something to prove, he has already shown he can be a contender for the 2nd best driver at Hendrick behind Larson who has claimed the #1 spot this year without a doubt. Bowman now has to prove that his season this year was not a flash in the pan or a fluke season where he only won the tracks where passing is impossible. Bowman, the quiet nice guy of the garage that keeps to himself and stays out of drama, is going into next season knowing he needs to do what he has to to show he is a real contender. Bowman needs to now, for me, advance past the round of 12 and into the round of 8 next year to keep improving until he can become a legit contender. He also needs to be able to be less streaky and more consistent through the whole of a season instead of short quick bursts to avoid what happened this year where the closer he got to the line the worse and worse his season got. Alex Bowman will be an interesting driver to watch next year and will be a great story to follow going into a year where he has to prove himself or he could be without a ride.