Hendrick Motorsports tabs Alex Bowman to take over for Dale Jr. in 2018

After filling in for the injured Earnhardt in 2016, Bowman will take over in a full-time role in the No. 88 car next season

Aaron Doster—USA TODAY Sports
Aug 28

Alex Bowman’s patience finally paid off on Thursday as Hendrick Motorsports announced he will replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 ride next season.Bowman, 24, took over on a part-time basis for Earnhardt last season as he suffered from concussion symptoms that sidelined him for half the season. With Junior retiring from the sport following this season, Bowman clearly did enough in his shot with Hendrick to take over for the No. 88 team.
Question answered. pic.twitter.com/BME7yvcLOC— Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) July 20, 2017
“Ever since I was a kid, racing is all I’ve wanted to do,” Bowman said in a release. “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 with the No. 88 team. “To be part of Hendrick Motorsports and for Mr. (Rick) Hendrick to have this confidence in me, it’s just amazing.”The announcement also cleared up another crucial question for Hendrick for next season: Who would sponsor the car? With Bowman in the seat, Nationwide will continue to partner on a majority basis for 19 races with Axalta increasing its sponsorship to 15 events for next season.”We are thrilled to continue our relationship with Hendrick Motorsports and welcome Alex to the No. 88 Nationwide team,” Terrance Williams, chief marketing officer at Nationwide, said. “Rick Hendrick and the No. 88 team have been exceptional partners for the last three years, and we look forward to our joint commitment and engagement with the NASCAR community, both on and off the track.”
Retweet to welcome @AlexBRacing to the No. 88 @Nationwide Chevy SS in 2018. #NW88Alex pic.twitter.com/CjZFiONRHw— Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) July 20, 2017
Last year, Bowman replaced Earnhardt for 10 races while he dealt with concussion symptoms. Bowman struggled at the start, but found his groove during the Chase with three top-10 results and five top-15 finishes while racing in eight of the final 10 events of the season.Earnhardt, for one, doesn’t lack confidence in Bowman’s abilities behind the wheel.”Alex has done a great job, I’m really happy to see him get an opportunity like this,” Earnhardt said. “… It’s given him more opportunities to show what he can do. I’ve worked with Alex for about four or five years through JR Motorsports on and off with our Xfinity program, so I believe in him.”I’m happy to see him seeing some results on the racetrack. He belongs out there full-time and his phone’s ringing.”Ready to go win some races. Thanks to everybody for all the support. Never thought this day would come. Driving the 88 in 2018! pic.twitter.com/NxDEm2v4CG— Alex Bowman (@AlexBRacing) July 20, 2017
Prior to his stint with Hendrick in a part-time role, Bowman drove two full-time seasons at the Monster Energy Cup Series level with BK Racing (2014) and Tommy Baldwin Racing (2015). He was cut from TBR in a move made the week prior to the Daytona 500 last year, leaving him without a ride for the entire year.Dealt with those tough circumstances at just 22 years old, Bowman bounced back in a huge way with his showing in the No. 88 car. Now, just over a year removed from his first Cup start with Hendrick, the boss man is confident that Bowman can step into the daunting seat of Earnhardt.”Alex impressed the heck out of us last year with his talent, poise and professionalism,” Hendrick said. “He stepped up in a very demanding situation and showed that he can run with the best and compete for wins.”