Bow­man to drive the No. 88

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

INDIANAPOLIS — Dale Earn­hardt Jr. got the re­place­ment he wanted. Alex Bow­man got his dream job.

Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports an­nounced Thurs­day that the 24year-old Bow­man will re­place one of the se­ries’ big­gest stars in the No. 88 car next sea­son af­ter Earn­hardt re­tires.

Bow­man has big shoes to fill. Earn­hardt was named NASCAR’s most pop­u­lar driver each of the last 14 sea­sons, and fans of his late fa­ther of­ten tracked Ju­nior’s re­sults fol­low­ing Dale Earn­hardt’s fa­tal crash in the 2001 sea­son opener at Day­tona.

Bow­man al­ready has some ex­pe­ri­ence in this job. When the 42year-old Earn­hardt missed 18 races be­cause of a con­cus­sion last sea­son, Bow­man started 10 of them in the No. 88, win­ning the first Cup pole of his ca­reer and fin­ish­ing in the top 10 three times.

That was enough to get Earn­hardt’s at­ten­tion and even­tu­ally an en­dorse­ment in May. “Alex Bow­man to the 88 next year — is that what you guys want?” Ju­nior asked dur­ing a livestream on Periscope fol­low­ing the se­ries’ All-Star race. “That would be pretty awe­some to see Alex in that car. That’s the plan, I hope. . Yeah, Alex in the 88. That sounds good to me. That kid earned it last year. He ran good.”

Bow­man per­formed well enough to get sev­eral full-time of­fers to drive in the Cup se­ries this year. In­stead, he stayed pa­tient. Bow­man said he turned down each of­fer as he con­tin­ued search­ing for the right sit­u­a­tion.

TERRY RENNA, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Alex Bow­man will re­place one of the se­ries’ big­gest stars in the No. 88 car next sea­son af­ter Dale Earn­hardt Jr. re­tires.

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