Dale Jr.'s advice for his protege Alex Bowman: "Drop the chip"

As Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s tenure as a fulltime Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver draws to a close, he was asked what advice he’s given his replacement next season in Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 88 Chevrolet, Alex Bowman.

Dale Jr.'s advice for his protege Alex Bowman: "Drop the chip"
Race winner Alex Bowman, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Alex Bowman, Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

The most important, Earnhardt said, was for Bowman to realize that he has “made it” and focus on enjoying the opportunity that has been presented to him.

“The one thing that I told Alex about is that he raced with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder the last several years. He invested in himself and I think we all in this room know about his story and how hard he worked to get this opportunity,” Earnhardt said Friday at Phoenix Raceway. 

“I told him that now he has this opportunity, now is the time to drop that chip and let people get to know you. Let the people know the good guy Alex, the nice guy Alex. Not that he has shown this edgy chip on his shoulder but now is the time for him to stop feeling that its him against the world and he is trying to get his foot in the door. 

“Now his foot is in the door, he is ready, here is his chance.”

Jumping into a high-profile situation

Earnhardt said Bowman has never been in as high-profile a situation as he will find himself next season, both with a top-tier Cup series organization and big NASCAR sponsor in Nationwide Insurance.

“I think he is going to handle it well. There is no more goofing around. He has a great personality and he can hang on to that,” Earnhardt said. “He can continue to hang on to his personality and engage with the fans, but he can drop the chip and get to work.”

Asked about Earnhardt’s comments, Bowman said when he began his racing career, everything seemed to come easy for him, but when he entered NASCAR’s top divisions, “everything just kind of got really hard and didn’t go like I thought it would.”

Bowman on his journey up the NASCAR ranks

Bowman, 24, said for a while he found himself constantly feeling the need to try to prove himself.

“I think for a long time, whether it was in the Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series or my first couple of years in the Cup series, if we weren’t running well, I was pretty miserable and I didn’t have a lot of fun with it,” he said.

“I just really felt like, especially my first year in the (Xfinity) Series, I felt like I needed to win races or I was failing and I didn’t have any fun at all. So, last year when I filled in for Dale (in the No. 88), I had a blast.

“My goal every week was to have the most fun I possibly could and enjoy it because I didn’t know if I would ever get another opportunity like that. So, I think I’m just going to carry that over to next year.”

Bowman is competing in this weekend’s Xfinity Series race at Phoenix for Chip Ganassi Racing. He won at Charlotte in October in his only other start in the series this season.

 

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