by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher photo: @AllyRacing
In October of 2020, Alex Bowman, driver of the Hendrick Motorsports #48 in the NASCAR Cup Series, built a 410 winged sprint car, without the intentions of racing it, according to an article by Lee Spencer. Well, plans change. Bowman made his winged 410 debut this past weekend, running at the new Circle City Raceway in Indianapolis, Indiana, Attica Raceway Park in Attica, Ohio, Fremont Speedway in Fremont, Ohio, and Tri-City Raceway Park in Franklin, Pennsylvania.
Ally Racing, one of Bowman’s NASCAR sponsors, came on board and they unveiled a the beautiful #55 machine Thursday night at Circle City, where Bowman set quicktime, and led laps in the feature before coming home with a solid top five finish.
“Sprint Car racing is hard,” Bowman said in a video he posted on Twitter. “I caught the tail of the field, the track was narrow, and I had zero idea what to do. I feel like our race car is tremendously better than a lot here, and there are a lot of really smart people working on it, so the weak link is behind the wheel, but I’m learning. It was a blast, and really freaking hard.”
One of the people working on the car is the legendary Joe Gaerte. Gaerte is a former World of Outlaws driver and engine builder. Gaerte owned his own team for a few years, with the likes of Carson Macedo and James McFadden, who are now both on the World of Outlaws tour, driving, and Gaerte spent some time on the road with Macedo as a crew chief when Macedo went Outlaw racing at Kyle Larson Racing.
On Friday night, Bowman made his Attica Raceway Park debut, and tested his skill against some of Ohio’s best in only his second winged 410 start. Bowman finished sixth in his heat, and would have to run the BMain, where he looked a lot more comfortable compared to his qualifying session and heat race and finished second after John Ivy slid him late for the win.
Bowman rolled off 16th in the feature, and would fall back to 19th early before he started to make his way forward. The Arizona native charged his way up to 13th by lap 14, and was 12th with just three laps left. Bowman made and another driver made contact with three laps remaining that would end Bowman’s charge, and race prematurely. Bowman would be credited with a 16th place finish.
After the race, Bowman discussed what he’s learned in just two starts in a 410 winged sprint car with OhioDirt’s Jacob Hord.
“It’s so much fun, this is a really neat race track here at Attica. Obviously CJ [Leary] has been here driving for me a couple times this year, and it’s been interesting to listen to his feedback and understand it better now that I’ve done it.”
Bowman continued: “I felt pretty good in the feature, and was going forward, I just got used up. That’s just part of sprint car racing. I feel like I learned a lot, I felt like I was doing a good job towards the end and it was a lot of fun.”
Circle City Raceway and Attica Raceway Park were on the opposite ends of the spectrum this weekend, with Circle City being tight and heavy, and Attica being a little bigger, dirtier, and slicking off. Any dirt driver, from Outlaws to locals, have to make major adjustments going between track conditions, and for Bowman, he had to make those adjustments while still learning his car. A challenge to say the least.
“It was heavier than I thought it would be to start, we were tight all night until the BMain. We finally got it freed up enough in the B to drive the car. I was pretty good in the B, and had a great car in the A. I felt like Circle City was like a big, heavy midget type deal without a lot of wing speed. Here, you’re traveling a lot faster and drive the car quite a bit different. This place is deceiving, it’s hard to see, it’s technical, it is slick but it’s a lot of fun,” said Bowman.
After a rainout at Fremont Saturday night, Bowman has three more races on the docket before the NASCAR season picks up. He’ll travel to Tri-City Raceway on July 25th, before coming back to Attica and Fremont July 30th and 31st. With more experience under his belt and being able to return to a track he’s been to before, Bowman has goals he wants to achieve before he gets back to his day job at Hendrick.
“I want to make all the laps, make all the shows, maybe some top tens. We ran fifth Thursday night. I don’t know how I set fast time, a lucky lap I guess. Tonight was a little more humbling for sure. We were passing for tenth in the feature, and we were better than the cars in front of us. I’m spoiled, I have Joe Gaerte working on this thing and I have some of the nicest equipment here, so the car should win, right? I just have to do my job and keep gaining on it.”
“I’m having a blast, this is really, really fun.”