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NASCAR Cup: Alex Bowman inherits No. 88

Alex Bowman (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

Alex Bowman (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Hendrick Motorsports officially has named Alex Bowman the next driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, via a press release Thursday. Bowman will assume the No. 88 seat upon the retirement of Dale Earnhardt Jr. after the end of the 2017 Cup Series season.

“Ever since I was a kid, racing is all I’ve wanted to do,” Bowman said. “I’ve had so many people believe in me along the way. My family has sacrificed a lot and always been behind me. I would never have this chance without the support of Dale and everyone involved in the No. 88 team. To be part of Hendrick Motorsports and for Mr. Hendrick to have this confidence in me, it’s just amazing.”

Bowman, along with Jeff Gordon, filled in behind the wheel of the No. 88 in the second half of the 2016 season while Earnhardt was sidelined by a concussion. Bowman drove the car in 10 races and posted three top-10s, including a best finish of sixth at Phoenix International Raceway. Bowman started on the pole and led a race-high 194 points in the Phoenix race.

“Alex impressed the heck out of us last year with his talent, poise and professionalism,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said. “He stepped up in a very demanding situation and showed that he can run with the best and compete for wins. His ability to stay focused through it all, and the way he’s handled himself since then, has shown a lot of character. Greg and the team loved working with Alex, and that dynamic will get even better with more time together.”

Although Earnhardt was cleared to return to competition in time for the Clash exhibition race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February, he voluntarily gave up the No. 88 seat to Bowman for the race, impressed by Bowman’s pole and performance in his absence.

According to the Thursday announcement, Bowman officially signed on with Hendrick last October. To this point in 2017, Bowman has, primarily, served the role as simulator operator for HMS.

Nationwide Insurance, already a major sponsor on the car, will be primary sponsor for Bowman and the No. 88 for 19 races next year, including the season-opening Daytona 500. Axalta, also already a major sponsor on the car, will be primary sponsor on the car for 15 races in 2018.

Bowman raced two years in the Cup Series before joining Hendrick Motorsports last year, running for BK Racing in 2014 and Tommy Baldwin Racing in 2015. He was expected to remain with TBR for 2016 but was replaced by Regan Smith there during the offseason between the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Bowman has 81-career starts in the series. He failed to finish in the top-10 while driving for BK Racing and TBR.

Bowman already had a working relationship with Earnhardt, prior to joining HMS, as a driver for the Earnhardt-Hendrick co-owned JR Motorsports NASCAR Xfinity Series team. Eleven of his career Xfinity Series starts came from behind the wheel of a JRM entry.  Seven of those races resulted in top-10 finishes, and three of those were top-fives. In all, Bowman has 50-career Xfinity starts, resulting in five top-fives and 13 top-10s.

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (Facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (Facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on July 20, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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