BROOKLYN, Mich. — Alex Bowman and the No. 88 team celebrated what would have been Tim Richmond’s 64th birthday in style on Friday at Michigan International Speedway.
Bowman and team unveiled their throwback paint scheme for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway with a video tribute in the media center ahead of this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the 2-mile track. The scheme pays tribute to Richmond’s No. 25 scheme he competed with in 37 races for Hendrick Motorsports from 1986-87.
“If I was a NASCAR fan in that era, that’s who I would have cheered for,” Bowman told NASCAR.com following the announcement. “I think just the excitement, his personality and how good he was in a race car. He was pretty unbelievable.”
After the scheme failed to make it on the car for the 2018 running of the crown-jewel throwback event, Bowman’s intense push to make it happen finally paid off.
“I begged for it,” Bowman said. “I begged for it last year and we didn’t do it, but I’m glad we could make it happen. It’s something I really wanted to do. If I was going to pick a throwback scheme, it’s exactly what I would pick.”
— Axalta Racing (@AxaltaRacing) June 7, 2019
Axalta, the primary sponsorship featured on Bowman’s No. 88 machine for Darlington, also played a big part in bring Bowman’s dream to life.
“Obviously, they’ve got a lot of paint schemes they could throw back to and it’s cool for them to be flexible and willing to let me do something different,” said Bowman.
With the throwback paint revealed, it now begs the question of whether or not Bowman will make an effort to mirror Richmond’s personal look with the iconic mustache and long mane. Based on team owner Rick Hendrick’s reaction to a previous encounter with Bowman’s effort to sport facial hair, he’s decided to let the paint scheme have all the glory.
“If I grew a mustache out … I tried for the All-Star (Race) and it didn’t work out so well and I got made fun of a lot, Bowman said. “Mr. H (Rick Hendrick) walked up to me and just stared at me for a second before he would talk to me, so I think that was shave the damn mustache off your face, so I did. Yeah, that probably won’t happen.”
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As the team continues to bring strong cars to the track consistently, Bowman is hopeful he’ll be able to turn his Darlington luck around. In 2018, Bowman qualified fourth, but he only managed a 23rd-place result after troubles from earning the infamous ‘Darlington stripe.’
“It’s just hit and miss,” Bowman said. “That place is really tough. Really tough to kind of correlate practice with what you’re going to have in the race just because you race at night and practice during the day. It’s so hot and slick. It’s a tough place for me so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
As far as Monday’s race at Michigan (5 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is concerned, Bowman noted that the team elected to bring a nearly-identical car to what they unloaded at Kansas Speedway in May where he earned his third of three-consecutive second-place finishes.
“I’m really confident coming here, just with how strong we were at Kansas and how similar the two race tracks are,” Bowman said. “I think we could be really good here with it. This is one I’ve had circled here for a while and I’m looking forward to it.”