Climbing behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet in relief of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Alex Bowman was looking to provide a solid run for his Hendrick Motorsports team. In Thursday night’s qualifying session for the Bank of America 500, Bowman nearly pulled off the upset by stealing the pole, but came up just short, settling for the outside pole instead.
“It’s always cool to come to Charlotte because you’re at home. My family and a lot of the team members’ families will come out to watch us, which is really nice. As far as the racetrack itself, there are two really unique corners – (Turns) 1 and 2 are really simple, while (Turns) 3 and 4 are really challenging. I’m looking forward to getting going. I love night racing there – the track gets really fast, and it should be a lot of fun,” said Bowman prior to climbing in the cockpit.
In both the first practice session of the day on Thursday afternoon and in Thursday night’s qualifying session, Bowman was fast, clocking in with the second fastest time in practice, just behind Kevin Harvick. While Bowman looked to be the driver in prime position to steal the pole by running the fastest time in the second round of qualifying with a speed of 196.200 mph and backing it up in the final round with a speed of 196.000 mph, his hopes of claiming the pole went away as soon as Harvick took to the track and dropped him to second with his pole speed of 196.029 mph.
Even though Bowman fell short of the pole, his second place start for Saturday night’s race still marks his best qualifying effort to date, giving the young driver confidence heading into the race.
“I’m a little frustrated. I feel like I kind of messed up (Turn) 1 and 2 there in the final round a little bit. Just so thankful to be here, it means the world to me for Hendrick Motorsports to take a chance and let me run these races. I’ve really got to thank Axalta and everybody involved. That was a lot of fun and I’m trying to make the most of it. Definitely feel like we unloaded a little off today and made huge gains all through practice and by the end of practice we were really happy with our car. Greg and all the guys worked really hard, brand new race car, and we’ve got great Hendrick horsepower under the hood. Just ready to go Saturday night or Sunday, whenever we get to race.”
Bowman’s speed in practice and qualifying not only impressed many in attendance, but also drew the attention of the driver he is driving in relief of – Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Earnhardt posted the following to Twitter shortly after Bowman finished qualifying:
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) October 7, 2016