Sunday afternoon, NASCAR heads to the Daytona International Speedway Road Course for the first time in Cup Series history. A few drivers have some previous track time on the 3.61-mile road course, but Alex Bowman is not among this group. He will experience the unique course for the first time when he gets behind the wheel of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro and he is ready for a "crazy" race.
Speaking exclusively with PopCulture.com, Bowman provided some insight into his preparation. The Cup Series drivers have no practice laps available to them due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so they can only put in so much training for a relatively unfamiliar track. For Bowman, this includes using simulators to examine the various turns and potential danger points. He also has the benefit of watching other series take on the course on Saturday and Sunday.
"I've been in a simulator quite a bit. I'm just trying to prepare, and I think watching the Xfinity race is really crucial as well," Bowman told PopCulture. "Obviously, the simulator is accurate to a point, but typically the accuracy in the simulator comes from correlating it to pass data, and a driver going in there and saying, 'Yes, this is what the car really drives like at this racetrack, or no, this isn't right,' and that kind of dialing it in and getting it right and we don't have that. We don't have any data from the road course at Daytona. I don't know what it's supposed to drive like, so it's hard to say the simulator is spot on for it."
Bowman continued and explained that the mixture of simulation racing and working with Corvette Racing driver Jordan Taylor will help him prepare to a point, but this will only go so far. He will only fully adjust to the unique design once the race takes place. "It'll be interesting to see. I mean, starting pretty close to the back, so staying out of trouble is going to be rough," Bowman continued. "Keeping the fenders on it is going to be really important, but I'll just have to wait and see. It's going to be pretty crazy, for sure."
While Bowman hasn't raced at the Daytona Road Course in his Cup Series career, he has found success on a different track. He previously took part in events at the Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Bowman finished second overall during the 2019 race at the Roval and fourth in 2018 due to the strong road course setup at Hendrick Motorsports. Bowman and the No. 88 team have examined this previous success and tried to incorporate specific elements into a different course.
"I think we kind of broke the racetrack down and tried to focus on areas that we thought would benefit us at the Daytona Road Course that benefited us at the Roval and try to find the similarities," Bowman said. "Hopefully, it works. I think the Daytona Road Course is probably quite a bit slicker on the infield, pretty rough in some of the braking zones, which you don't really have at the Roval. So it'll be interesting to see how it works out and hopefully, we're on the right side of it."0comments
With the Cup Series race scheduled for Sunday afternoon, Bowman had the opportunity to watch the Xfinity drivers take on the Daytona Road Course on Saturday afternoon. What he saw was a massive number of incidents. Cars regularly spun out of control due to the sharp corners and wet grass on the side of the track. Others jumped after hitting one specific corner and landed very hard, crumpling the front fenders of their stock cars. Bowman saw the chaos and actually commented to NBC Sports commentator Rutledge Wood that a mistake could result in a driver's day ending early.
Bowman will try to adapt to the unique Daytona Road Course on Sunday when he suits up for the Go Bowling 235. He will start 27th overall to find success once again after previously winning the Auto Club 400, the third race of the season. Coverage for the race begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.