NASCAR: Alex Bowman responds to anxiety concerns

Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series driver Alex Bowman responded to fans concerned about his anxiety from Sunday’s race.

Millions of people deal with anxiety, and Alex Bowman is one of them. He also happens to be the full-time driver of the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Bowman entered Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, the third and final race of the round of 12 of the playoffs, vying for a spot in the round of 8 for the first time in his career. He entered the race 22 points above the cut line, but only one point above the provisional cut line in the event of an upset winner.

He was slated to qualify for the round of 8 on points, provided an upset winner from below the cut line did not emerge. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch was leading the race and positioning himself to play spoiler.

Had that happened, the 27-year-old Tucson, Arizona native would have been in a tight battle with Team Penske’s Joey Logano to end up in the eighth and final transfer spot.

Fortunately for Bowman, he is indeed slated to advance to the third round of the four-round, 10-race playoffs for the first time in his career. But during the race itself, Bowman reportedly needed to be calmed down, to which he responded on the radio, “sorry, that’s just anxiety me. Regular Alex will be back shortly.” He reportedly told his team late in the race that he thought he was going to throw up, which is an issue that has been documented from races of Bowman’s past due to his struggles with anxiety.

Bowman addressed the situation after the 109-lap race around the 17-turn, 2.28-mile (3.669-kilometer) road course in Concord, North Carolina, which he finished in eighth place.

“I feel like it’s not super common in the race car. Before races and high-pressure situations you’ll have that, I guess. I feel like I was just really stressed out. It means a lot to me to make the Round of 8.

“Was really something I felt like with the points situation we were in we had to do. With the race team that Mr. H has given me and put me with, all the resources we have, I feel like it was pretty necessary to make the Round of 8. I don’t know.  It means a lot to me and I put a lot of pressure on myself to make that happen.”

Earlier in the week, it had been announced that Bowman is set to move from the #88 Chevrolet to the #48 Chevrolet next year as the replacement for seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson. He believes that having that news announced and out of the way improved things for him heading into the race.

“To be honest with you, that probably helped distract me through the majority of the week. Just being able to talk about something else, not being so caught up in a points situation. It’s just tough, man.

“You come to the Roval, stressful. It’s a cutoff week, stressful. You’re surrounded in points by champions of the sport, extra stressful. You’re trying to beat Kyle Busch, and it’s going to rain.  It’s like how many stressful elements can you add to one thing?”

To add onto that, comments made by a NASCAR media member, which were justifiably deemed insensitive by an overwhelming majority of fans on Twitter, referred to Bowman as “Anxiety Alex” three times throughout Sunday’s race following the aforementioned radio communication.

While that media member did apologize to those who felt he was making light of mental health issues and he spoke with Bowman about the matter afterward, that did not stop the fanbase from rallying behind Bowman.

Many media members and quite a few other drivers even voiced their support for the driver of the #88 Chevrolet following these remarks.

Bowman responded to the outpouring of support he received from fans on Monday afternoon.

The Auto Club Speedway race winner from early March is set to enter the round of 8 opener at Kansas Speedway, the Hollywood Casino 400, in seventh place in the championship standings, 18 points below the Championship 4 cut line.

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NBC is set to broadcast this race live beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET this Sunday, October 18. Bowman’s top finish at the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) oval in Kansas City, Kansas is second place in May of 2019.