In 2018 Alex Bowman will be taking over the #88 Chevy in place of retiring Dale Earnhardt Jr. He should be a very familiar face in this ride because in 2016 he drove this car for 10 races. During that time he showed some flashes of brilliance, but also had a lot of problems along the way.
This upcoming season Alex Bowman has a lot of upside, but he needs to avoid trouble on the track. He’ll have a great car underneath and if he can drive like the two-plus year veteran that he is, good things can happen. In 2018 I would look for Alex Bowman to compete for a Playoff spot, perhaps challenge for a win and come home with a good amount of top tens.
In terms of evaluating Alex Bowman’s fantasy values I would urge you to completely avoid studying his 2015 and 2014 season’s when he was in an uncompetitive situation.
Strengths – In 2018 I would look for Alex Bowman to be at his best at intermediate tracks, shorter flat tracks and big flat tracks.
Weaknesses – Trouble never seems to be too far away, and that makes me nervous about Alex Bowman. Over his ten races in 2016 he finished 26th or worse 4 times. In 2018 I would be the most nervous about picking Bowman at road courses, Martinsville, Bristol and at plate tracks.
Track Type Fantasy Value Key = Elite > High > Medium-High > Medium > Low
Intermediate Track Fantasy Value – High
Don’t underestimate Alex Bowman at intermediate tracks. I think he’ll have a “High” talent level on this track type, but it will be a “low high.” He’ll probably typically be low to mid-teens good, but he’ll show some flashes and come home with some top tens. In 2016 on this track type in the #88 he had some really good performances and almost always competed for a top ten, even though many of his results don’t show it. His incident free average finish was 11.5.
The main key for success for Bowman on this track type will be avoiding trouble.
Flat Track Fantasy Value – High
In 2018 I think Alex Bowman should be good at both the big and smaller flat tracks.
In 2016 at shorter flat tracks behind the wheel of the #88 he looked really good. At Phoenix that season he had one of the best cars and was a serious contender to win. In that race he finished 6th, earned the best driver rating and led 194 laps. In both New Hampshire races that season he also showed some promise. He finished 14th in September (2016), and was a top ten contender in July until he had problems (finished a misleading 26th).
At big flat tracks I expect Bowman to run well. Hendrick cars are always strong on this sub-track type and I don’t see why that won’t be the case with Bowman. He’ll have tons of horse power under his hood and at these venues that’s half the battle.
Short Track Fantasy Value – Medium-High
I have trust issues with young guys who are unproven at short tracks. Bowman’s done nothing to inspire confidence and it’s more than likely not a lot of good will come from picking him. In 2016 when he drove the #88 the team opted to put Jeff Gordon behind the wheel on this track type. In terms of evaluating his fantasy value on this track type I would go into the weekend viewing him as a mid to high-teens driver and then hope for the best, with lots of attrition to others. From an allocation perspective on this track type I wouldn’t pick him.
Restrictor Plate Track Fantasy Value – Medium
Just like many drivers at restrictor plate tracks I expect Bowman to get some good finishes, but also get involved in a few wrecks. Over his 8 combined starts in NASCAR’s top series on this track type he has a 27th place average finish. Over those races he has two results in the teens, three results in the twenties, and three results of 33rd or worse. On this track type it’s basically a roll of the dice if you pick him.
Road Course Track Fantasy Value – Medium
Alex Bowman doesn’t strike me as a road course racer. He doesn’t have a lot of experience on track type and in NASCAR’s top series all of his results are 29th or worse. He wasn’t in a competitive situation so you really can’t read into it too much. On this track type I think it’s best to just view him as a high-teens driver.