But Rick Hendrick said Sunday morning in a news conference that the contract came with no promises of a job other than his current position: Driving the Chevrolet simulator and testing in the Chevy wheel force car on behalf of the team.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen, and we were very careful not to guarantee him anything other than if opportunities arose, he would have a shot,” Hendrick said. “I can’t make all the decisions — sponsors have to be involved. But in my mind, Alex was going to be the next up.”
It was interesting to hear Hendrick say he was pretty much looking to Bowman all along if everything lined up. The Hall of Fame team owner said Bowman was “in the back of our mind for whatever opportunity we had.”
“So it wasn’t much of a decision at all,” he said. “Alex was the guy.”
That doesn’t mean Bowman was the only driver considered. Hendrick was specifically asked about Matt Kenseth — who is available — and said, “I love Matt Kenseth.”
But he said the two had spoken in the past and mutually agreed that “sometimes things just don’t line up at the right times.”
As for Bowman, he just had to be ultra patient — which included turning down “solid opportunities” for this season with other teams.
“There was nothing set in stone,” he said. “It was a big leap of faith.”
Why was he willing to do that? Bowman said it’s because he grew up as a Jeff Gordon fan and wanted to drive for Hendrick his entire life. That was always the dream.
Plus, he said, even being a simulator driver for Hendrick was better than running 35th every week — as he did during his first years in the Cup Series.
“To get the opportunity to stay this year in whatever capacity, I was very happy to take that,” he said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen from there. … I took a chance with it, and I’m very glad it all worked out. “