Bowman Named as Earnhardt’s Successor

Alex Bowman will take over as the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet from the retiring Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, the team announced in a press release this morning.

The team didn’t disclose the length of his deal.

“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.”

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company also signed a one-year extension to remain the primary sponsor for 19 races. In addition, Axalta Coating Systems will remain on-board and as a primary sponsor for 15 races, up from 13.

Since the moment Earnhardt announced back in April that he was retiring at the conclusion of this season, Bowman has been at the top of the list of drivers to replace him in the No. 88. The speculation is understandable given that Bowman drove as a substitute driver place of Earnhardt, who was sidelined the second half of the 2016 season with a concussion. Bowman earned three top-10 finishes in his 10-race substitute role, compared to two top-10’s in eight races by Jeff Gordon.

His breakthrough race came last November at Phoenix when he started on pole and led a race-high of 194 laps, on his way to a sixth-place finish.

He most recently raced the No. 88 in the unofficial season kickoff Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway, by virtue of his aforementioned Phoenix pole, to a third-place finish.

“Alex impressed the heck out of us last year with his talent, poise and professionalism,” said team owner Rick Hendrick. “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 (Ives) and the team loved working with Alex, and that dynamic will get even better with more time together.”

This deal puts to rest speculation of the No. 88 being taken over by drivers such as JR Motorsports rookie driver and HMS development driver William Byron, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski to name a few.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

Tucker White
Tucker White
I've followed NASCAR for well over 20 years of my life, both as a fan and now as a member of the media. As of 2024, I'm on my ninth season as a traveling NASCAR beat writer. For all its flaws and dumb moments, NASCAR at its best produces some of the best action you'll ever see in the sport of auto racing. Case in point: Kyle Larson's threading the needle pass at Darlington Raceway on May 9, 2021. On used-up tires, racing on a worn surface and an aero package that put his car on the razor's edge of control, Larson demonstrated why he's a generational talent. Those are the stories I want to capture and break down. In addition to NASCAR, I also follow IndyCar and Formula 1. As a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I'm a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan (especially in regards to Tennessee football). If covering NASCAR doesn't kill me, down the road, watching Tennessee football will. I'm also a diehard fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I lived long enough to see them win a World Series for the first time since 1995 (when I was just a year old). I've also sworn my fan allegiance to the Nashville Predators, though that's not paid out as much as the Braves. Furthermore, as a massive sports dork, I follow the NFL on a weekly basis. Though it's more out of an obligation than genuine passion (for sports dorks, following the NFL is basically an unwritten rule). Outside of sports, I'm a major cinema buff and a weeb. My favorite film is "Blazing Saddles" and my favorite anime is "Black Lagoon."

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