Confirmed: Alex Bowman to take over No. 88 from Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Alex Bowman has won the Hendrick Motorsports ride lottery -- and the winning number is 88.

Confirmed: Alex Bowman to take over No. 88 from Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Polesitter Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet with crew chief Greg Ives
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

The team announced on Thursday that the 24-year-old Tucson, Arizona native will take over driving duties for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2018. 

“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 with the No. 88 team. To be part of Hendrick Motorsports and for Mr. Hendrick to have this confidence in me, it’s just amazing.

“The No. 88 team is such a great group of people. I know we can pick up where we left off last year, and I truly believe we can win races and contend for a championship. I’m excited to build on the relationship with Nationwide and all of our partners. It means the world that they have faith in me, and I’m thankful to have them on my side. Now I just want to go win.”

Bowman auditioned for Hendrick last year when Earnhardt was sidelined with a concussion. He competed in 10 races and earned three top—10 finishes including the pole at Phoenix Raceway where he led a race-high 194 laps before finishing a career-best sixth.

Nationwide will be the primary sponsor for Bowman in 19 races on the No. 88 Chevy. The Axalta livery will take over for 15 races. 

“Alex impressed the heck out of us last year with his talent, poise, and professionalism,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “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.

“Our relationship with Nationwide is unbelievable. They have a true passion for NASCAR and our fans, and to have them extend with us is gratifying for our whole team. It’s also a credit to the way Alex carried himself last season and built lasting relationships. We’re fortunate to work with partners like Nationwide and Axalta that have built impactful, enduring programs around the countless opportunities our sport provides.”

Bowman comes from an open-wheel background. His career began at seven behind the wheel of quarter-midgets. He graduated to USAC sprint cars before moving into stock cars at 17. After dabbling in the Pro Cup Series in 2010, he advanced to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2011 and won rookie honors. That same season, Bowman ran two ARCA races and won both — at Madison (Wisc) International Speedway and Kansas Speedway.

Bowman signed with Team Penske for the following season, won four ARCA races and led 20-percent of all laps en route to the Rookie-of-the-Year title. His first Xfinity start came in 2012 before running the full season the following year. In 2014, Bowman made his Cup debut in Daytona 500. Over the next two seasons, he made 71 Cup starts.

His relationship started with Earnhardt when Bowman piloted the No. 00 Chevy for JR Motorsports in 2015. He finished 11th in his truck debut. In 2016, Bowman ran nine Xfinity Series races with JRM. He posted one pole, three top fives and seven top 10s.

Earnhardt announced his retirement from full-time Cup racing on April 25. The two-time Xfinity Series champion has raced in Cup for 18 seasons. For the last 14 years, Earnhardt has been named NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver. He’s amassed 26 wins, 14 poles, 149 top fives and 256 top 10s. In 2008, he moved to Hendrick Motorsports to drive the No. 88 Chevy. Earnhardt, who missed 18 races last year due to a concussion, returned in 2017 for one last season. He is currently 21st in the standings.

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