Alex Bowman enters the 2017 season replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr. and he has certainly taken grabbed the bull by the horns after winning the pole in the Daytona 500. Bowman had taken the top spot in his first race of his first full-time season at Hendrick Motorsports.
This means Bowman has a pretty good problem. For those who qualified positions 3-40, their starting spot for Sunday will be determined at the Can-Am Duel at Daytona on Thursday night. Bowman is locked in at the top spot and nothing will take him out…unless he has to go to a backup car due to a mechanical issue or an accident in between now and the Daytona 500.
But while it would be easy to just start the Duel, do a lap and park the car, ensuring you won’t crash, it’s not exactly that easy. With 150 miles of potential race condition practice, and points being given to the top 10 in each race, there is incentive for Bowman to take the risk.
At Daytona 500 Media Day, Bowman explained his team gameplan for the qualifying race to The Comeback.
“I think our goal is to not hurt the race car so just gotta keep the race car clean. We’ll see how stable the car is in the draft and go from there.”
That will be easier said than done, but it seems like the plan will be “cautious, but competitive.” Bowman is all too willing to go the distance but if it gets too hectic, he might not take any unnecessary risks and save the car.
For Sunday, Bowman knows he has to use his limited practice time to figure out how the car drafts with other cars but he knows he’s got a great car entering the Daytona 500.
“Obviously we’ll have a very fast race car and I think we can stay up front all day for sure. We’ll just have to see how our car drafts; we haven’t drafted yet so kind of just have to play it by ear and see how the Duel goes and see how Final Practice goes and go from there.”