The series of 12 Questions interviews continues this week with Alex Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports. Bowman, a Tucson native, is returning to his home track at ISM Raceway this weekend. This interview is recorded as a podcast but also transcribed below.
1. How often do you have dreams about racing?
I guess it just depends on previous racing experiences. I feel like after Phoenix two years ago (when he almost won), I dreamt about that ending going a whole lot differently every night for a while. But recently, not very often.
If I’m going to play a game on my phone — if I play a lot of Candy Crush or something, I have Candy Crush dreams. I was thinking that since you’ve been in the simulator so much…
No, I definitely didn’t dream about the simulator, that’s for sure. But yeah, that’s kind of odd — you might want to get that checked out.
2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?
It depends on the situation. And there’s pros and cons to when you apologize as well. Like if you run up right after the race is over, it’s gonna be on the TV highlight reel and TV loves it, the media loves it — but sometimes it gets blown out of proportion, because there are a bunch of angry crew members around and people start yelling and it becomes a bigger mess than it could be if you let the situation calm down first. So I think it really is just situational.
3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?
I think for me, I guess it’s easier to ask the biggest compliment I’ve gotten, and that was from Jimmie Johnson in 2014 when I first started running Cup cars. He came up to me after the Vegas race, and he’s like, “Man, when I was lapping you at Vegas, that thing was terrible, out of control. I don’t know how you were driving it.” So just to hear a guy say you’re doing a really good job with what you’ve got to work with, that meant a lot.
Had you ever talked to him before that?
Not really, no. So it was pretty cool.
4. NASCAR comes to you and says, “Hey, we are bringing a celebrity to the race and we’re wondering if you have time to say hi.” Who is a celebrity you’d be really excited to host?
That’s a tough one. Obviously Peyton Manning, but we’ve already gotten to do that. Jennifer Aniston, I’d be pretty excited about. (Laughs)
She’s newly single, by the way.
Is she? You’re way more up on this stuff than I am.
I read it on Snapchat — they have the Daily Mail tab.
I don’t even know how to get to that.
It’s over on the news side.
I mean, Snapchat’s gotten so confusing lately. What happened?
Yeah, I might be done with it unless they switch back.
It’s like the same thing that happened to Jayski. Like, what happened?
5. In an effort to show they are health-conscious, NASCAR offers the No. 1 pit stall selection for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for a month. Would you do it?
I saw this question on the previous one. Heck no. Heck no!
No takers so far on this at all.
I mean, it’s such an advantage. I guess honestly, if that really happened, you’re gonna get sat down at your team meeting and be like, “Hey, you’re gonna be a vegan now.” But personally, like…no!
6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I have picked a random race from your career and you have to guess where you finished.
Oh gosh — 36th. (Laughs)
This is the 2015 Dover spring race for Cup.
Oh, we ran really good that day. I mean, for what we had. Did we finish 20th?
Yes! You did finish 20th!
I mean, we got the ol’ 7 to run 20th, we were winning. That was high fives all around after the race. That was doing it right there.
So that one sticks out. You started 30th. You finished right ahead of Denny Hamlin.
Heck yeah, we beat Denny Hamlin in the 7. That was getting after it in the 7 car.
7. Who is the best rapper alive?
That’s a tough one. I don’t really listen to a lot of rap. But I’m a big Mark Martin fan so…Gucci (Mane)?
He’ll go along with that.
Yeah, going with that because I like Mark Martin. Maybe he’ll retweet me now.
8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?
Oh lord. What kind of answers have you gotten so far?
Most people have not really given a great answer this year.
Yeah, I wonder why. I can’t imagine why most people wouldn’t give a great answer on that one.
I’m gonna go with Matt DiBenedetto, because I owe him a punch in the face.
He didn’t punch you in the face, did he?
No, we’re just buddies and I owe him one for some buddy stuff. He’ll laugh when he hears that, because he would like break me in half if he punched me. I would just disintegrate. (Laughs)
9. NASCAR enlists three famous Americans to be involved with your team for one race as part of a publicity push: Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Tom Hanks. Choose one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter and one to be your motorhome driver.
Motorhome driver I’m going T-Swift because my girlfriend Emily (Boat) would go insane. She would be so pumped. She’s like the biggest Taylor Swift fan in the world. We’re using one of my off weekends to go see Taylor Swift. So she would be pumped.
Spotter, I’m going with Tom Hanks because he’s calm, cool and collected even when he’s stranded on an island. And crew chief, LeBron. I mean, he’s motivational and knows how to win.
10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?
That is a challenge. We had the best pre-race bathroom in our trailer and now we don’t. We took it out. Yeah, that was probably the thing I was excited about most to drive the 88 car, was that we had a bathroom in the trailer. Now we don’t.
We needed some extra space, so we no longer have a bathroom in the trailer, which is really, really disappointing. (Smiles)
11. NASCAR misses the highlight reel value brought by Carl Edwards’ backflips and decides a replacement is needed. How much money would they have to pay you to backflip off your car after your next win?
Probably a couple million dollars, and then also cover the hospital bills.
A couple million plus medical?
Yes, plus medical. Because there’s gonna be a lot of medical.
12. Each week, I ask a question given to me from the last interview. Last week, I interviewed Bubba Wallace. He was wondering, I guess you guys were coming to the line at Homestead 2016 and—
He just turned left and crashed us.
Yes, and he was wondering how long it took you to get over that.
I’d say I was over it pretty quickly because I didn’t see him for a while, and then I saw him and he apologized, but it was like eight months later. But that stuff happens. I was pretty mad at the time, because it was for like 12th on the last lap and we’re like across the start/finish line basically and then I crashed. So it was like super pointless.
It was kinda funny, his spotter texted me and was like, “I’m sorry, that was really unnecessary.” But I guess he didn’t know I was there and it was a mistake. You don’t do that intentionally, so that’s part of racing. But yeah, I was pretty fired up at the time for sure.
I think that was the second race on that race car, so it was fairly new for (JR Motorsports), we ran top three with it all day and then that final restart, when somebody decided to stay out and stack all the front rows up, we got stacked up really hard and kind of got shuffled. We were on two tires, so all the guys that are on four tires are going around you like you’re standing still. So we’re like, “Man, we ran top three all day and now we’re gonna finish 10th or 12th.” And then coming across the start/finish line, you absolutely junk your race car. There were a lot of things that I was mad about at the time, so it’s just part of it.
How do you have such a good memory for races?
Well, you’re picking good memorable ones. I mean, not a good memory with that one obviously, but like Dover 2015, that’s a good memory. That was probably our best race of the entire season. So yeah, you’re just picking good ones. Every other finish would have been like 32nd.
So the next interview I’m doing is with Daniel Hemric. Do you have a question for him?
I don’t really know Daniel that well, but I used to go to Summer Shootout (at Charlotte Motor Speedway) and watch him kick everybody’s butt. And he’s really good in a Super Late Model. And it just seemed like he stalled out there for a couple of years and wasn’t really getting an opportunity, and all of a sudden he got that opportunity in the Truck Series and now the Xfinity Series.
As somebody else who had their career kind of stall out at a different level, what was going through his mind when he wasn’t getting those opportunities he deserved? And how did he approach that — how did he find motivation to keep digging?
That was one that I struggled with for awhile there, like, “Do I keep doing this? What do I do?” And obviously everything happens for a reason, and it all kind of fell into place for me. It’s obviously different in his situation, but somewhat similar there.
Previous 12 Questions interviews with Alex Bowman: