- Alex Bowman, winning driver
- Greg Ives, winning crew chief
THE MODERATOR: We’ll roll into our post-race press conference here at Martinsville. We’ve been joined by our race winner Alex Bowman.
Alex, give us your thoughts on the final laps and ultimately taking home the victory.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, definitely extremely happy to be able to get a fourth win for the 48 this year. It’s been a rough couple months on us since we started the Playoffs. To come here with such a fast race car, the capability of winning is awesome.
Hate that we got into the 11. Unintentional. I just got underneath him and spun him out. I’d be mad, too. I get it. But he’s been on the other side of that enough to understand. Glad to come out of it with a trophy.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll go to questions.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, so he crashed me at Texas last year. Texted me and apologized. Said he’d give me a ride on his jet.
I don’t know. We’re even, I guess, after that. He crashed the heck out of me there. He got loose underneath me, exact same thing just on a bigger racetrack.
Yeah, sarcasm there obviously. Just my point is the shoe has been on the other foot. Like we’ve been on both sides of it.
Has to be kind of a surreal thing. You’re doing your burnout, there’s a dude facing you, ramming your car. What was that moment like?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, have you ever been to Bowman Gray Stadium? I’ve gone there and watched. That’s what it felt like. When they had that TV show with the mods running there, I watched the heck out of that. It was really entertaining then. Not so entertaining when you’re living it.
Just didn’t want to be a part of that, make us both look dumb. So I just tried to not be a part of it. I wasn’t going to try to do stuff like that. That’s not who I am.
Yeah, I understand why he’s mad. I’d be mad, too. I drove off into the corner, got loose, spun him out. At the same time I didn’t do it on purpose. If I did, I’d tell you. That’s part of it.
Four wins for the season. Looking back at the year, great way to finish off the year.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, these last couple months have been painful. It’s been so frustrating. Honestly, our teammates have kicked our butts for quite a while now. I think Greg and myself have both been pretty down and frustrated, not understood what was going on. We weren’t doing things any differently. We weren’t approaching weekends differently. We just have been off.
To come to a place that was probably our worst place when we started together, have such a good day, get another win, it feels great. Obviously, four wins this year feels great. Wish we were in the Round of 4. We just need to figure out consistency and this team will be something really, really special.
THE MODERATOR: Crew chief Greg Ives has joined, as well.
Greg, you have shown at times since you’ve been together you’ll string together four or five races, then these moments where things are going the other direction. Why is the lack of consistency a problem?
GREG IVES: I don’t know. I’m still looking for it.
Obviously, that’s a great question that doesn’t really have a great answer. Honestly, there’s times when it’s because you’re going to a racetrack that you’re not necessarily good at. Martinsville, Richmond were tough racetracks for us. We were able to come out and win at them. In the spring race I feel like we had a solid race car. To be able to come back here and probably even have a better one.
It’s hard to say. We took ourselves out early. I wish I a hundred percent knew what that was. I feel like as an organization, we have contributed to success by being a great teammate and being somewhat innovative with certain setups and stuff like that.
Honestly, the consistency is something that’s always wavered for us for whatever reason. Last year the Playoffs was one of our most consistent ever. Summer was not. Before the Playoffs started I think you could say start of the year was really good for us, then middle and end has not been.
It’s a long year. It takes a lot of toll not only on us as driver and crew chief but the team as well. When you’re living it every day, sometimes — maybe I should ask the media, What do you guys see? When you’re so focused on it, sometimes the easiest thing just misses you.
Alex, you doubled your career win total in one year. If somebody said before the year you’ll win four races this year, not make the Final 4, how would you have viewed that?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I mean, I think I was really confident coming into this year. We entered the Playoffs super strong last year. I feel like we didn’t get much credit for it, but I think we scored the second most points of anybody, didn’t have the Playoff points to fall back on because our summer wasn’t it needed to be. Finished sixth in points, were really fast.
I was confident coming into this year. But the thing that I’ve always circled is to just try to be consistent, consistently run well. We’ve struggled to do that. It’s really hard for me to be super excited right now. The beginning of the season if you told me I was going to win four times, I’d be pretty excited.
Wish we were going to Phoenix with a chance to win the championship. It has been painful to kind of go through the Playoffs the way they’ve been. But it’s awesome to at least start to end the year on a strong note.
Alex, how do you race next weekend your teammates versus the Gibbs drivers?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, for sure. Respectfully. I feel like I try to race as respectful as I can. Mistakes happen. Obviously today probably doesn’t appear that way. Like I drove off in the corner and jacked the 11 up, carried him off in the corner, passed him, then pulled over and let him go the next straightaway to try to pass him clean.
Respectfully next week, no matter who it is. We’re going there to get a trophy. At the same time we ought to be respectful with what those four guys have going on.
When something like what happens today happens, how do you handle that? Will you two talk during the week? Not specifically you and Denny, but when it happens between two drivers, how do you handle something like that?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, if the front straightaway thing wouldn’t have happened, I would have already talked to him.
I don’t like drama. I’m pretty shy and keep to myself, do my own thing. This isn’t the most comfortable situation for me. At the same time I’m paid to win races. That’s what we’re here to do.
We’ll talk this week. He’s got so much going on with trying to go win a championship. Understandably, he’s probably, after tonight, more focused on other things.
I think the last thing he wants is for us two to continue anything next week. We’ll just hopefully talk. He’s going to be mad. I have my side of the story. It’s not going to make him any happier, but I’ll tell him, we’ll go from there.
Only thing I can guarantee you this year they had Denny and Chase on a commercial, guaranteed to be in the commercial next year. Clay loves to show the track. How do you feel about that?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I think big picture, at the end of the day, not really race car driver at some point. At some point we’re entertainers. Whether you loved it or hated it, you’re mad about it, you’re jumping for joy, a lot of people were probably pretty dang entertained. Hopefully it’s good for the sport. I think rivalries are good for the sport. It’s kind of what made NASCAR short-track racing.
You’d want to be in the Championship 4 at Phoenix, but what kind of a boost does this victory give for your team?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, we needed something after the Playoff run that we’ve had. Means a lot to me. I would assume to Greg.
I mean, obviously it can all go a different direction next week. If we could just end the season strong next week at Phoenix, that’s been a place that’s been pretty rough on us over the years. Going to the off-season with a lot of unknowns. Having positive momentum ending this way is good.
GREG IVES: For sure, when the question about making it to the Championship 4 is never going to be a question before the consistency. For us always trying to get that momentum going into the off-season. Obviously there’s things we have done right, there’s things we’ve done not so well. We just got to continue to focus on that.
It means a lot for us to win here. Any Cup race, it’s such a tough sport. But to win here at Martinsville, the history, legacy, tragedy that happened here at Martinsville is a huge deal for me. I know it’s something that we want to represent well.
Throughout the Playoffs Kyle has been wracking up wins. Sometimes the Hendrick drivers have been some of his toughest competition. At what point did you feel you were in that situation, where you felt you have a car that can contend?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, honestly I was confident coming here after how strong we were in the spring. I felt really good really early. We gave guys a lot of breaks early in the race, which ended up putting me in situations that hurt us, like when the 12 brake-checked 3, cost us spots, we had damage, had to fix it on pit stops and stuff like that.
I think it probably masked how good we were early, but I think we had a really fast race car the whole time. Passed a ton of race cars today. Definitely felt strong all day.
Greg, as the end of the race wound down, Alex found himself in the mix of Playoff drivers, were you focused on anything other than his situation?
GREG IVES: Yeah, I mean, sometimes if you get too far past what your performance is, you lose sight, maybe get inconsistent.
For us knowing that we had a strong run in the spring and trying to build off of that. Alex drives this place different than our teammates. It requires a different setup for him. We’ve proved that Richmond, Martinsville and now again here that we’re able to take his feedback and tailor it to what he wants in a race car and come out successful.
For sure, like he said, early in the race there were times when you knew people were going to be aggressive and knew who had to win and who didn’t, just let it string out, knew we had a fast car, instead of taking a fender off of it, waiting for it to string out and get by them that way.
Were you aware that Hamlin most likely was getting in as long as he stayed on the lead lap? Did that impact the way you raced him?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I knew he was pretty well locked in. I don’t think it really did. I think I would have raced him the way I did regardless. Made every attempt to race him clean. Finally just got loose underneath him.
I think this whole garage knows that I race pretty clean. You’re racing for wins on a short track, you’re maxed out. I was loose in all day, finally just got loose in.
I feel like if he was fighting for a Playoff spot or on the outside looking in, I would have raced him the same. Here to win races. At the end of the day that’s kind of all that matters.
What are you going to do with the clock?
ALEX BOWMAN: I don’t have a place for it. I haven’t even thought that far ahead. Way too much drama for my brain to process. I don’t really know what to do with myself up there. A little awkward.
Yeah, I don’t really have a good spot for it the way my house is. I’m going to have to knock a wall down or something, construction project going on this winter.
GREG IVES: Maybe we’ll do that tonight.
ALEX BOWMAN: Never know when Greg comes to the party. It gets pretty ugly sometimes. He sprayed beer on my ceiling once so anything can happen.
GREG IVES: How did that happen? Next question.
ALEX BOWMAN: Greg was no longer in the building. His name was Hansel.