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Surprise move: Tommy Baldwin Racing cuts ties with driver Alex Bowman


during qualifying for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Andy Lyons

The 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season hasn’t even begun and already the first owner-driver split has occurred.

Tommy Baldwin Racing announced Thursday that it has parted ways with driver Alex Bowman.

“As NASCAR transitions to different business and competition models, teams have to make decisions accordingly,” team owner Tommy Baldwin Jr. said in a media release. “We appreciate what Alex contributed during 2015 and wish him the best in the future.”

Ironically, just a day earlier, Bowman tweeted his anticipation for the start of the new season:



Then, after Thursday’s news broke, Bowman tweeted this:



Bowman is signed to drive nine Xfinity Series races for JR Motorsports in 2016, being part of JRM’s “All-Star” car that will see himself, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott and Kasey Kahne share the driving duties throughout the upcoming season.

Bowman was TBR’s only driver last season in the Sprint Cup Series. He qualified for 35 of the 36 races (failed to qualify for the Daytona 500) and placed 33rd in the overall season standings.

Bowman’s best finish was 16th in the spring race at Talladega.

Ironically, it was just over a month ago that TBR announced in a presentation at the NASCAR Hall of Fame of a primary sponsorship agreement with Toy State/Nikko Toys that would be on Bowman’s No. 7 Chevrolet for 13 races in the upcoming season.

Bowman’s departure leaves the door open for several drivers still looking for a ride for 2016. Among potential candidates: David Ragan, Regan Smith, David Gilliland, Sam Hornish Jr., Travis Kvapil and Ryan Preece, who previously raced for TBR in the Xfinity Series in 2013 and 2014.

Follow @JerryBonkowski