The news site of Glacier Peak High school

The Edge

The news site of Glacier Peak High school

The Edge

The news site of Glacier Peak High school

The Edge

Kevin Hamlin brings Snohomish Roots to the NASCAR Cup Series: A Followup

Back in 2021, I had the opportunity to see Kevin while he was in town at the Snohomish Valley Golf Center.

Four years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Hendrick Motorsports spotter and Snohomish High School graduate Kevin Hamlin. Hamlin’s #88 team had just concluded the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season, one that was severely abridged by COVID-19.  

Four years later, things have returned to normal for Hamlin and everyone in motorsports, but normalcy isn’t without new challenges. NASCAR has seen a growth in popularity, with expansion on the season schedule taking them to all corners of the country and racing on all types of tracks. From a race inside the Los Angeles Coliseum, to one on the streets of Chicago, the Cup Series has been taking daring risks. These risks, however, force drivers and spotters alike to make quick adjustments, especially with practice time each weekend being cut down. “The lack of practice is a big change for everyone. Back in the day we had a couple of 50 minute sessions, now it’s one 20 minute session that goes by very fast, so it leaves little time to get reaccustomed to the track, the speeds, the angles your viewing your driver at, the paint schemes – some cars change weekly – so your personal calibration time as I kind of call it needs to be very fast now,” Hamlin said.  

After the 2020 season, a change in numbers at Hendrick put Hamlin and his driver, Alex Bowman, in the famed #48. In their first year in the car, Bowman had a career year, posting four wins including a historic 1-2-3-4 finish for Hendrick at Dover Motor Speedway. “HMS was just hitting on all cylinders that season. We did a really good job of closing out races and things worked out for us. The cars were different then than they are now, but we were just fast and lucky at times too,” Hamlin said.  

Bowman followed up the ‘21 campaign with an early win in 2022, closing out a victory at Las Vegas that irked fellow driver Kyle Busch. After Bowman came from nowhere to steal the show, Busch claimed in a postrace interview that Bowman “backed into wins,” or was lucky to be in the right place at the time. How did the 48 team handle the aftermath? “We laughed about it. I’d rather lead a couple feet of a race and win as opposed to leading all day and finishing second. Kyle is passionate about the sport, he and Alex talked about it and we were really fast all race, we just hadn’t led so we snuck up on everyone,” Hamlin said.  

2022 also brought a drastic change to the Cup Series for the first time in nine seasons, as the Generation 7, or “Next Gen” car was introduced. Designed to implement new technology to the car, along with lowering costs for teams, the Next Gen has provided spotters and drivers alike new challenges on raceday. “It’s so hard to pass now that when you have a little sliver of an opportunity to take another driver’s line away, or clear your guy aggressively, we all tend to do that now. The Gen 6 car with the low horsepower was like spotting a plate race at a mile and half, so that was kind of crazy, but different cars have different aero tendencies, different ups and downs, different tactics to make the car work so figuring all of that out with what works for your team quickly is pretty important,” Hamlin said. For reference, this is what the Next Gen car looks like, compared to the Generation 6 from 2021.  

2023 was a year to forget for Hamlin and the team, as Bowman was sidelined for a large amount of the season due to a back injury sustained while racing in the famed Chili Bowl in Tulsa, OK. Bowman was replaced by backup driver Josh Berry during his time out of the car, which changed the raceday routine for Hamlin as a spotter. “[working with a different driver] was hard. Josh Berry filled in when Alex was hurt, and [he was] great, but it’s difficult not having your driver in the car, it’s just not the same. I would just call a race like how I call a race and since [he was a] part time guy [he] seemed like [he] adapted to me and didn’t have me change much,” Hamlin said. Bowman would go on to return after missing four regular season races, and the NASCAR All-Star race.  

That brings the team to 2024. Through 14 races, Bowman and the 48 team have yet to win, but have shown signs of speed and competitiveness throughout the season as they work to snap a 75-race winless streak. Bowman has recently put together five straight top 10’s, and eight over his last 10 races. “We’re running really well right now, it’s just tough cause all of our teammates have won, and we haven’t yet. Alex is very motivated, and he works very hard behind the scenes which people don’t see. He’s in the sim at least two days a week, reviews data, re-watches races and goes over a pretty thick report before each race before we have our meetings,” Hamlin said. Heading into the summer and fall months, the 48 team will run at tracks that Bowman has found success at before like Martinsville, Richmond, and the previously mentioned Las Vegas. 

Off the track, Hamlin is a father and a Snohomish local. When asked about his favorite memories during his time as a Panther, Hamlin said two things really stuck out to him about his high school experience. “Friday night football games and open campus lunches. The games in town, the entire school hanging out on D Ave and going to Alfy’s was so fun. It was such a different time then it is now, no cell phones so you’d hope to run into your buddies at this spot or that spot at some point,” Hamlin said. Though communication is a little easier for today’s students, and Alfy’s Pizza has been replaced by the likes of El Parisio and Hops N’ Drops, the 90’s high school experience isn’t too different from the one we’ve gotten. 

With the class of 24 about to graduate and forge their own path, Hamlin offered some advice to the outgoing seniors. “Mistakes are going to happen, learn from them. It’s okay to mess up, to have a bad day, to have a bad experience. I did a lot of things wrong as a driver when I first got my “big shot,” and driving didn’t work out for me. I can be hard on my drivers when I’m spotting now cause I’ve made those mistakes, I’ve seen them happen and I can see what the outcome of said mistake is going to be so I try to guide them down a different path then what I took. I recently saw a graphic online that hit home for me for advice and bad experiences. I’d tell my kids to live by this because it’s true,” Hamlin said.  

Hamlin mentioned this graphic as one that stuck out to him and offered it as important advice for the graduating seniors.


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