Alex Bowman and his Hendrick Motorsports has been on a roll as of late.
Going back to a strong ending to last season and a stellar beginning to this one, the powerhouse NASCAR team is looking to get back to the elite ranks.
The ranks that Jimmie Johnson had the team at during the prime of his career – winning 7 NASCAR Cup Series championships in the short span of 11 seasons.
It’s almost crazy to look at.
Jimmie Johnson on Alex Bowman, HMS keeping success through COVID-19 Break
And while the break is an unprecedented task, HMS’ start to the season included three of its drivers – including Johnson – in the top five of the points standings.
It’s a small sample size, but certainly an encouraging number.
“I know our team, much like many other teams, is spending a lot of time on the phone trying to strategize on where to work or what to look at, but we physically can’t go anywhere or do anything right now,” Johnson said.
Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, NASCAR teams are in a frozen period where the amount of progress that can be made is slim.
That was the agreement that all of the teams had reached.
“There’s really very little we can do,” Johnson said. “We can work on our computers, but Hendrick has been shut down for a while now. There has been an agreement reached where teams aren’t sending employees into work and not only from the NASCAR point, but obviously what the governor has said on the amount of people that can gather at a given place.”
Although, don’t think a team like HMS is going to sit back and get lazy.
There’s no reason to think that anyone is using this as a vacation period.
That’s why iRacing has taken off in the rapid way that it has. Drivers like William Byron, Chase Elliott, and of course Alex Bowman are taking it as serious as they can.
It’s a quality that Johnson has seen in Bowman over the years, and more as of late.
“He’s really dug in deep and has asked himself all the tough questions about how he can get better,” Johnson said. “It’s been really amazing to see him grow and learn. I would say the thing that’s talked about most is the confidence that’s come with all of that. I’ve been really impressed.”
Bowman started out as a SIM racer for the team, building on his experience throughout his career and taking opportunities where he could.
Fast-forward a few years later and Bowman is a two-time Cup Series winner – including this year’s race at Fontana.
“I’ve watched him evolve quite a bit over the years; especially since his responsibilities were just running the SIM for us, to now having a full-time seat in the car,” Johnson said. “He’s done a lot of growing and maturing and he’s done an amazing job.”
If or when the 2020 NASCAR season starts back up, HMS and especially Bowman will be enormous contenders to try and compete for the title.
Bowman’s growth is just the icing on the cake.
“Running good on-track brings the bulk of it,” Johnson said. “Being able to win has fueled that more than anything. But off the track, the work he puts in helps feed that and really shows the dedication.
“He’s putting in to being the best that he can.”
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