Earlier this racing season NASCAR’s most popular driver – Dale Earnhardt Jr – announced that he would be retiring from full time driving in the Monster Energy Cup Series at the end of the 2017 racing season.
By Tomás Del Coro from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA – Earnhardt Jr 88, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58159834
Junior made the announcement after missing half of the season last year due to concussion issues. The announcement immediately began race fans and broadcasters speculating on who would take over the wheel of 88 car.
Tech. Sgt. Mike R. Smith, National Guard Bureau
On July 20, car owner Hendrick Motorsports announced the driver who would be taking over next season. Current car sponsors Nationwide and Axalta will stay on to continue sponsoring the car.
By Sarah Stierch – Own work, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41292596
Bowman drove the 88 for several races last season when Earnhardt was unable to drive. Bowman has also worked for Earnhardt as one of the drivers for Jr Motosports.
Via a team statement Bowman said, “ever since I was a kid, racing is all I’ve wanted to do. 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.”
Bowman continued, “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.”
The 24 year old Bowman has been working for Hendrick Motorsports as a simulation and test driver. He has previously driven for BK Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing.
In his 10 races as a substitute driver with Hendrick Motorsports in 2016, Bowman earned a pole at Phoenix International Speedway where he finished in sixth place – one of three top 10 finishes.
By Mike Kalasnik – Flickr: Rick Hendrick, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15720024
Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick spoke on Bowman saying, “Alex impressed the heck out of us last year with his talent, poise and professionalism. 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.”
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