CONCORD, N.C. — One of the biggest dominoes in the 2017 NASCAR Silly Season fell Thursday morning as Alex Bowman was named the driver of the 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for 2018.
Bowman will take over for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is retiring at the end of the 2017 season.
“Ever since I was a kid, racing is all I’ve wanted to do,” Bowman said in a press release from Hendrick Motorsports. “I’ve had so many people believe in me along the way. My family has sacrificed a lot and has always been behind me. I would never have this chance without the support of Dale and everyone involved in 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 filled in for Earnhardt Jr. in 10 of the final 18 races last season after Earnhardt suffered a concussion in a crash at Michigan International Speedway. He earned three top-10 finishes, with a best finish of sixth at Phoenix, where he also won the pole and led 194 laps.
Nationwide Insurance will be the primary sponsor on the car for 19 races next season, including the Daytona 500. Axalta will sponsor the car for 15 Monster Energy Cup events.
“Alex impressed the heck out of 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.”