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