NASCAR Cup: Alex Bowman in No. 88 at Michigan, if needed
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
By AMANDA VINCENT
Hendrick Motorsports confirmed Friday evening that if Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains sidelined for the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, scheduled for Aug. 28, Alex Bowman, not Jeff Gordon, will be behind the wheel of the No. 88 HMS Chevrolet.
Earnhardt continues to recover from symptoms of a concussion doctors believe he sustained in a crash, also at MIS, on June 12. Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway will be the fifth-consecutive race missed by Earnhardt because of his most recent concussion. His status for the Michigan race remains unknown.
Gordon has a prior commitment that would prevent him from being at MIS for all Sprint Cup on-track activity. He is expected to be in attendance on race day, but Hendrick Motorsports opted to go with Bowman for Michigan, since Bowman is available for all practices, qualifying and the race.
Bowman filled-in for Earnhardt at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon in July before handing over substitute duties to Gordon. He finished 26th after starting 20th in Loudon.
Bowman, the 2014 Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year, also has competed part-time in the Xfinity Series this year, sharing driving duties of the No. 88 entry, co-owned by Earnhardt, in that series. He raced full-time in the Sprint Cup Series for two years, but lost his Cup ride with Tommy Baldwin Racing during the off-season when that race team opted to go with Regan Smith for 2016.
The Bristol race will be Gordon’s fourth in the No. 88 as Earnhardt’s fill-in. So far, Gordon’s best finish was 13th at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, his first race in the car. He retired from full-time Sprint Cup Series competition at the end of the 2015 season.