By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
DARLINGTON, S.C. – In recent days, Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman has embraced Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway.
Bowman, whose No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro SS will honor Hendrick alum Tim Richmond, recreated a famous photo of his favorite driver. With Richmond’s car in the background and a hat in place of the late driver’s helmet, Bowman wore a retro Axalta shirt and fact mustache to emulate the 13-time winner.
Bowman joked that portraying Richmond has broken him out of his shell.
“I begged for it last year but couldn’t make it happen. It has been a lot of fun. It has gotten me out of my shell a little bit, which is tough to do if you haven’t noticed that (laughs). It has been a good time so far. It’s cool to be in a Hendrick Motorsports car and throwing back to Tim Richmond is pretty special.”
The two drivers not only competed in different eras but had different career paths and drastically different personalities.
Richmond started in IndyCar before moving to what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. ESPN’s Dr. Jerry Punch once touted Richmond for having “Hollywood good looks and the charisma of Tom Cruise.”
Meanwhile, Bowman started in dirt midgets before moving to late models and ultimately NASCAR. He is usually fairly reserved compared to Richmond.
“I’d say he’s probably the polar opposite of me in a lot of ways, but it’s been interesting to learn more about him and see all the cool stuff he drove,” Bowman explained.
“Between IndyCar, there’s a picture of him driving a Super Modified that had three wheels on the right side and one wheel on the left side. Just random stuff like that that is really neat and unique, it’s cool.”
Richmond’s short NASCAR career may have only spanned eight years, but he drove the cars to their limit. He earned 13 victories including seven in his final full season. With 42 top-five and 78 top-10 finishes, along with 14 pole positions, Richmond’s stats are impressive.
While Richmond’s career was over before Bowman was born, the 26-year-old learned about him later in life.
“I think it was more like once I got older and was looking back at old races. Everybody wants to have as much fun as he had and almost have that attitude that he was laid back on everything and then have the success on the racetrack. He’s the guy that I look back at and was like, ‘he had the most fun out of everybody.’
“At the end of the day, that is what we are all here to do. It’s just cool to be throwing back to him.”
View this post on Instagram
Entering the BoJangles Southern 500 throwback race, Bowman is 10th in the championship points standings. With a win at Chicagoland Speedway earlier this season, he is locked into the playoffs.