• Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Countdown to the Clash: Alex Bowman 2023 season preview

ByEvan McNelia

Dec 19, 2022
Alex Bowman looks on

Photo courtesy of Logan Riely | Getty Images

Alex Bowman enters his sixth full-time season with Hendrick Motorsports in 2023 piloting the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet for his third season. 2023 will be a big year for Bowman as both he and sponsor Ally are entering contract years with the organization.

Ally originally signed its extension with Hendrick late in 2019 while seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson was behind the wheel of the No. 48. Bowman moved from the No. 88 car following Johnson’s retirement at the end of the 2020 season. 

Bowman originally joined Hendrick in 2016 as an interim driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr. while he missed time with a concussion. He ran a Truck Series race and five Xfinity races from 2014 to early 2016 with Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports. He had also been in two full seasons in the Cup Series in 2014 and 2015 with BK Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing.

Bowman finished his 10-race 2016 run in the No. 88 with five top-15 and three top-10 finishes. A Tucson native, Bowman notched his best finish of the season at his home track Phoenix, finishing sixth at the CAN-AM 500 after winning the pole. 

Hendrick was pleased with what Bowman showed and signed him in 2017 despite not having any open driver seats. Earnhardt announced his intent to retire following the 2017 season and Bowman was later announced for the 2018 season, though he only appeared in three races across all three national series in 2017.

Bowman has recorded 66 top-10s, 28 top-5s and seven wins across 175 races in his five full-time Cup seasons. He’s made the playoffs every year, advancing to the Round of 12 five times, and making the Round of 8 once. 

Bowman had his best season in 2020, the year he made the Round of 8. He got his first win of the season, and second of his Cup Series career, at the 2020 Auto Club 400 in Fontana. Finished the season with 15 top-10s and six top-5s, including running up at the Darlington spring race, he ended the year sixth overall in driver points.

In 2021, Bowman finished with a career-high four wins taking the checkered flag at the spring Richmond race, Dover, the first of back-to-back Pocono races and in the second-to-last race of the season at Martinsville. However, a slew of sub-par performances early in the playoffs left him out of the Round of 8.

Last season, Bowman won early in the year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was his first career win in a national series at the race grounds where he had been in a sprint race accident at the age of 16. The win started a 12-race run in which Bowman registered nine top-10 finishes.

Bowman had two good races to start his 2022 playoff run, placing 10th at Darlington and fourth at Kansas. However, he did not finish at Bristol the following week but advanced to the Round of 12 with enough points.

In the first race of the round at Texas, Bowman’s right-rear tire gave out and he spun into the wall. The contact resulted in a concussion for Bowman and he missed the next five races, ending his playoff run. Noah Gragson filled in for each of the five races. 

Bowman returned for the season finale in Phoenix but placed a disappointing 34th in his return to the race car.

Back and healthy in 2023, Bowman will be looking to grow his relationship with new crew chief Blake Harris. Harris was a Cup Series rookie last season as head of the Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford garage. Michael McDowell, the driver of the No. 34, finished the 2022 season 23rd in points with 12 top-10 finishes. 

With a full season and an expiring contract, Bowman will likely have his sights set high, potentially on his first Championship 4 appearance. After not qualifying for the final race at last year’s inaugural Clash at the Coliseum, he can start off on the right foot with a good performance 48 days from now in Los Angeles.