Alex Bowman content at Hendrick while waiting for right ride

Photo by Hendrick Motorsports

By Yvonne Jones, Staff Writer

It’s going to take a far better situation for Alex Bowman to abandon the simulator at Hendrick Motorsports.

The 23-year-old driver is still without a ride for 2017. But it’s not like he hasn’t received any offers.

“The phone ring a lot and nothing really popped out as an opportunity that was really promising enough to leave Hendrick Motorsports,” he told Dave Moody on NASCAR Radio’s SiriusXM Speedway on Thursday.

But until that opportunity comes along, Bowman says he is content with helping Hendrick Motorsports – owner of 245 Cup wins and 12 titles at the same level — with simulation work.

“I’m really appreciative of all the offers I did get,” he said. “There was a lot of thinking that went on and a lot of long conversations of if we could make things work, and at the end of the day, it was a better situation for me to just kinda hang out where I’m at. So really appreciative of the job that I have.”

Bowman began his Cup career with BK Racing in 2014, and also had a one-year stint with Tommy Baldwin Racing the following season.

The Tucson, Arizona native got a chance to show what he could do in superior equipment in 2016, when he filled in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 10 races as NASCAR’s most popular driver recovered from concussion-like symptoms. Bowman tallied three top 10s, including a sixth-place finish in his home state, where he led 194 of the 324 laps at Phoenix after winning the pole.

“I’ve been at a lot of different places throughout my career and been in a lot of situations and none of them have been as much fun as last year was with Hendrick Motorsports,” Bowman said. “And even if I have the smallest of all roles there, I still am really happy to be a part of such a great organization and be a part of winning races and championships.

“So even if I’m not driving it’s a place that I always wanted to be as a driver but at the same time I will kinda take whatever role that they’ve given me.”

Bowman was part of a two-day test in Phoenix this week as he represented Hendrick Motorsports and Team Chevy. He admitted returning to the track where he almost stunned the field still “bothered me every day since that race happened that we didn’t come home with the trophy.”

He’ll get another shot at victory lane in The Clash, an exhibition event at Daytona on Feb. 18. But after that, Bowman doesn’t have a whole lot planned for 2017.

“Well, if there is a wheel force test you’ll see me,” he chuckled. “I got that going on. And obviously running The Clash with Hendrick Motorsports we’re really pumped up about that … a lot of fun.

“Really looking forward to that opportunity. But other than that, that’s kinda about it.”

Bowman, who qualified for The Clash by virtue of his pole victory at Phoenix, is hoping for a good showing in the Nationwide No. 88 Chevrolet. Earnhardt Jr. will be back in the car for the rest of the way.

“We’re going there to win,” Bowman said. “There’s nothing else on my mind besides getting a trophy. I think one last shot at redemption, I guess.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever get another shot to win a Cup race. I know it’s not a points standing race or a full race or whatever you want to call it. But we’re going there to win and that’s kinda all there is to it.”

After that, Bowman will continue his simulator duties during the week at the Hendrick shop, where he says his hours vary. He says sometimes he’s there from 8-5:30 two or three times a week and sometimes weeks go by without being in it.

“A lot of it depends on the schedule for the simulator cause obviously we are not the only team in there,” he explained. “It kinda changes every week. My schedule is really fluid.

“Sometimes they call me and they’re like ‘hey can you be here in an hour?’ So kinda just be on-call.”

But Bowman doesn’t mind. For now, nothing beats hanging around a bunch of winners.

“I get to lean on Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Ives, Jeff Gordon, Chase Elliott, Kasey Kahne,” he said. “I mean there is so many great people that I can lean on and learn from and just kinda try to be a sponge when I’m around them.

“So I’m really just trying to learn what I can and be a better race car driver and be a better at whatever job title is when it’s all said and done.”

And what if Bowman never finds a better situation in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series?

“Regardless of how it goes I’m gonna come out at the end of it a lot smarter than I went into it,” he said.­­­­­

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