Column By: ALEX NIETEN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – MOORESVILLE, NC – Andrew Bowman has found himself on an interesting journey. A journey that’s led from Sprint Cars to NASCAR.
After five consecutive World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car titles with Kasey Kahne Racing, TRICON Garage has brought Bowman aboard Tanner Gray’s NASCAR Truck Series team for the 2024 season.
The starting line for Bowman’s journey was painted in a small western Ohio town named Elida. Born into a racing family, and surrounded by Sprint Car racing, his path to a motorsports career was forged early on.
“I started when my dad took my brother and I to the shop where he was working on Sprint Cars since basically my brother and I were born,” Bowman recalled. “Going there and learning growing up. The guy that he was working for – Mark Long – decided to retire from Sprint Car racing and sell his stuff to his cousin – Darren Long. That was in ’99, I believe. From there on, we just went to the shop every single night learning the ins and outs of Sprint Cars.”
Throughout his youth, Bowman soaked up knowledge and experience working with his father. Once Darren Long retired, Bowman and his brother – Trey – went out on their own working with Shawn Dancer. Eventually, Bowman graduated college and came to a fork in the road.
“By that time, I’m graduating college, which has nothing to do with racing at all,” Bowman explained. “So, I got a message from, I believe my brother, saying he saw on Twitter that Joe Trenca from New York was hiring. So, at that point I’m wondering do I go ahead and make my decision to go Sprint Car racing as a career? So, I did. I got hired by the Mucci Motorsports #98 with Joe Trenca behind the wheel.”
It wasn’t long before Bowman was introduced to Justin Adams with Kasey Kahne Racing, who brought him aboard to join Brad Sweet’s #49 team as a Tire Specialist for the 2018 season. Since then, a magical run followed. The team won nine races that year and finished second in points before going on a run of five straight championships with The Greatest Show on Dirt. Bowman has been a part of 65 World of Outlaws Feature victories with KKR.
“It’s kind of like a dream come true, but sometimes I still feel like I’m living in a dream,” Bowman said of the run. “I just remember at the 2018 World Finals when Donny (Schatz) had his 200-plus point lead. Going into it, I remember being really mad that it wasn’t us. I wanted to work harder to achieve that, which we did.”
Now, Bowman is set to take on a new challenge by joining TRICON. The move was primarily motivated by his desire to focus more on family. Transitioning to the NASCAR Truck Series allows him to remain in racing while having more time at home.
“When I found out my girlfriend was pregnant, I still wanted to Sprint Car race, but I knew at some point I’d probably need to come off the road full-time to tend to my kid,” Bowman said. “And at that point, George Loux from KKR spoke to me and basically said if I ever want to come off the road, he could help me get into the NASCAR world. So, I’d say probably sometime between California and World Finals I got ahold of him and he vouched for me. Right away he told me to come to the shop and talk to one of the crew chiefs and I did. One thing led to another and they hired me a couple days later.”
The Trucks will tackle a 23-race schedule next year, making Bowman’s travel much less extensive. He’ll be an at-track Tire Specialist, similar to his role with KKR, while also helping in the Mooresville, NC-based shop. After a life spent in Sprint Car racing, Bowman is looking forward to learning more with a new opportunity.
“I’ll be a mechanic as well as a Tire Specialist at the racetrack,” Bowman said. “So, I’ll be at the shop and part of the track crew. I’ll be able to fly in and fly right back out and still have a home life… I’m looking forward to learning how the Trucks work. I don’t know anything on the asphalt side of racing. I’ve always been on the dirt side of everything, so I’m interested to see how those type of race cars react on racetracks or in different situations.”
While Bowman is excited for the next chapter, it also brings a bittersweet side. He’s spent his entire life in the Sprint Car pit area, and over the last several years has been at Sprint Car races nearly every weekend. There was a family atmosphere to it, he said, one aspect he’ll miss.
“I feel like everybody in the Sprint Car world is one giant family,” Bowman said. “I just feel like in the dirt world the teams are basically family. Everybody loves each other and everything. I think that’s going to be the most difficult for me.”
But even though it won’t be the focal point of his life anymore, Bowman still intends to take in some Sprint Car races when time permits. He may not work in the dirt side of the racing world anymore, but he’ll always be a part of the Sprint Car family.
“Oh yeah, I’m going to try to get to some World of Outlaws events as time allows me,” Bowman said.
Bowman’s NASCAR season will begin a week after the World of Outlaws kick off the 2024 campaign at Volusia Speedway Park’s Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals (Feb. 7-10).