TULSA, Okla. — NASCAR Cup Series driver Alex Bowman will be taking a different approach to the upcoming Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals than he has the past two years.
Instead of serving as a car owner and driving one of his midgets, Bowman will focus solely on the ownership of Alex Bowman Racing, with USAC veterans C.J. Leary and Jake Swanson piloting entries for the Tucson, Ariz., native at the quarter-mile Tulsa Expo Raceway.
Bowman has fielded two Chili Bowl cars the past two seasons with he and Leary at the controls.
Bowman elected to step out of the driver’s seat after a disappointing performance in this past January, as he failed to make the feature for the fifth time in five attempts.
“C.J. (Leary) will be there in my (original) car and Jake Swanson is driving the car that I normally drive,” Bowman explained during a media teleconference this week. “Last year got pretty difficult … between running the Race of Champions with C.J., and me running and not having a crew chief, as well as me crew chiefing C.J. — it was just a lot of work for me to drive one of the cars and crew chief the other car. So I decided to step back and focus on being a car owner this year.”
Bowman’s performance has been respectable across his five Chili Bowl appearances.
In fact, his best Saturday finish was this year, when he came from 17th to 12th in the second B main. However, Bowman doesn’t feel racing a midget once a year is the most beneficial scenario for the open-wheel program he’s trying to build going forward.
“Honestly, I don’t have much business at Chili Bowl, just with only racing those cars once a year and a big lack of experience. The program kind of needed two drivers that could help each other, instead of C.J. trying to describe to me everything that I’m doing wrong every time I’m on the race track.
“Jake Swanson is going to drive and I think the two of them can really help each other, and we’ll try to put two cars in the show instead of just one.”
Leary has made the championship feature in each of the last two years while driving one of Bowman’s midgets, finishing eighth in 2019 and 17th this year.
Swanson has attempted the Chili Bowl seven times, with his first appearance inside the Tulsa Expo Center coming in 2012. He made the Saturday finale in 2017 driving for Six-8 Motorsports and was sixth in a C Main this year behind the wheel of the No. 73t for Josh Ford Motorsports.
The 35th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals is scheduled for Jan. 11-16 inside the Tulsa Expo Center.