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CONCORD, N.C. ? Alex Bowman doesn't expect to contend for wins. He only hopes to improve.
Measuring gains made on the track can be tricky when the driver is a rookie and the team is still building its foundation.
"Take the bad luck away and let us finish where we were running when we broke ? and we're 29th or 30th in points," Bowman, 21, said Tuesday during a Sunoco Rookie of the Year press conference at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
While those numbers aren't eye-catching, they're not unusual for a driver in Bowman's situation. Every trip out onto the track is a learning experience for the native son of Tucson, Arizona. One of seven Sprint Cup Series rookies in this year's class, Bowman is 34th in points.
His No. 23 BK Racing team, headed up by crew chief Dave Winston, is one of three fielded by the organization. Teammates are Ryan Truex and late addition Cole Whitt, who made the move to BK when Swan Racing ceased operations earlier this year.
"A lot of ups and downs," sums up Bowman's first 11 Cup races races, which include a career-best finish of 22nd at Fontana this season. "We really struggled with our mile-and-a-half program earlier in the year. I feel like we got it a lot better at Kansas (last week), then I sped on pit road and ruined our day," he said.
"If we can get these rookie mistakes out of the way and finish where we run, I feel like we'll have a lot better days."
A bad pit stop cost the team track position at Auto Club Speedway, crashes at Martinsville and Talladega spoiled those efforts "and we had a solid run going at Bristol and had the battery fall out of the race car," he said.
"We're doing everything ourselves ? building our own cars, building our own motors. We have a lot of support from TRD (Toyota Racing Development), but when you're building your own motors, it makes it hard to go to a place like Kansas where you're running wide open all day.
"The short tracks, you can get the car driving right and go from there. That's what we did at Bristol ? started 33rd and were moving up and the battery fell out. That's part of it, but places like that we go to twice a year, so I'm looking forward to going back."
A former ARCA race winner, Bowman is one of 23 drivers that will be attempting to qualify for Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race at CMS by advancing from Friday night's Sprint Showdown. The winner and runner-up from the 40-lap qualifier will earn berths in Saturday's race, as well as one driver selected via fan vote.
"We're getting better," he said. "My crew chief, Dave, is a rookie too, so we're both making our own mistakes. But we're learning from them."
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