After spending five years in the NASCAR Cup Series and bouncing between backmarker teams, and relief driving, Alex Bowman proved his worth when he parked the No. 88 Camaro in Victory Lane at Chicagoland in 2019.
Now, the car that proved Bowman belonged in the Cup Series will forever be his own, as Hendrick Motorsports surprised the Tuscon, Arizona driver with his first win car earlier this week.
Newest addition to the ABR Headquarters 🤘🏼
Really special to have Mr H and everybody at @TeamHendrick restore the car from our first win together. We raced it a lot after Chicago, but it’s now put back as it was completely. Pretty neat to have! pic.twitter.com/JNwnfHXA0d
— Alex Bowman (@Alex_Bowman) February 4, 2021
“That was just a really special day,” Bowman said. “We knew we were really good but we really to win that race the way we did. We weren’t the best car at the end and really had to fight for it. It’s really special, for sure.”
The winning drive at Chicagoland came after a fantastic battle with current teammate Kyle Larson during his time at Chip Ganassi Racing. Bowman led 88 laps on his way to his first career Cup Series win. Since then, Bowman added another win to his tally at California in 2020 and finished his season off in the sixth position in the final standings.
According to the HMS website, Bowman had a feeling the car would eventually be in his hands but did not know when or if the possibility was there. Crew Chief Greg Ives had a hand in restoring the car for the surprise gift.
“I wanted to continue to race it because it was such a great car for us,” Ives said. “Alex obviously has that request of, ‘Hey, if I ever win do I get the car?’ I know that was between Mr. Hendrick, himself, and myself, as well. We had that car sitting, kind of wondering what it was going to do after Homestead in 2019. We retired the car and, as we went through all last year, we just continually accrued the parts to put it back together.”
The car, now restored with needed parts, brought Ives memories from that day in Chicagoland.
“We knew we had a lot of speed (and) Alex was building confidence,” said Ives. “That’s the number one goal when (it comes) down to winning races – it’s the confidence in your driver to say, ‘Hey, give me the car, give me the wheel, give me the pit stops and give me an opportunity to win.’ He went out there and did that, and that’s what I see when I see the car.”
The car, finally, will be given to Bowman as a memento for the achievement.
“It’s neat to see it again,” Bowman said. “Obviously, we raced it quite a bit that year and had a lot of success with this car. It’s cool to see it put back together how it was. (I’m) just super appreciative of it. It’s really neat.”