After a year of speculation and constant rumors and rumblings, we now know that Alex Bowman will be taking his talents to the other end of the Hendrick garage and replacing Jimmie Johnson in the 48-car. Ally will remain with the team and continue to sponsor Bowman; a move that I respect the bank for. They now have a chance to cement their NASCAR legacy with a new driver; because let’s be honest, twenty years from now people won’t even remember Jimmie Johnson drove the Ally car.
Alex Bowman was one of the many guys that seemed hindered by the new standards set by the pandemic at NASCAR with no practice or qualifying. To start the year he came out the gate and won the third race of the year and had the speed early on. After that, his speed just wasn’t the same. He still put up a solid 2020 campaign, but at the beginning of the year, I thought this was going to be his true breakout season.
It wasn’t his breakout year, but it was a year that proved he belonged; it proved he still deserves a couple more years to see what we have in him. Bowman has raw potential that is taking a little more work than natural talents like Chase Elliott, but Rick Hendrick knows what he has in the Arizona native.
With that being said, I don’t think this season will be his breakout year either. The 2021 season is going to be similar to the 2020 season, in the fact that drivers will still be restricted in their team interactions and how much seat time they get in their cars. If this affected Bowman negatively in a car he’s been running with for the last three seasons, I can’t see it going super smoothly with a new team.
Struggles are not the word I’m looking for, but there will be hard times this season. I think he will have a more improved year with a major boost in confidence. Because you got to think that in his mind this has to be a promotion, moving into a legendary car and replacing a legend. Rick Hendrick could’ve found anyone for that ride, but he chose Bowman to carry the team into that next chapter.
I expect it to be an improved year, but not a mind-blowingly awesome year. I’d like to believe he’ll be on par with his new teammate Kyle Larson and a step behind Chase Elliott, but that’s a stepping stone into a greater competitive threat.
Top Fives: 10
Top Tens: 20
Average Finish: 13.4
Top Fives: 8
Top Tens: 15
Average Finish: 15.2
I firmly don’t believe that the worst-case scenario is going to happen. Alex Bowman has a big opportunity to make a major leap this season, but I also feel that the table is set for him to have a similar year to his 2020 season, and that’s okay. We are still in odd times, and I think that the drivers and teams need to be given the benefit of the doubt until we get back to normal.
Alex Bowman fans may have to wait another year to see Bowman pop the lid off his true potential, but it’s coming. This will not be the year, but he’s going to show us enough to let us know that he is more than capable of carrying on the #48 legacy.