Alex Bowman to drive Earnhardt Jr.’s 88 car for Hendrick Motorsports in 2018
CONCORD, N.C. — Hendrick Motorsports has named Alex Bowman the full-time driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Cup Series with a 19-race majority sponsorship from Nationwide beginning in 2018, according to a news release.
Bowman, 24, piloted the No. 88 Chevrolet SS in 10 of the final 18 Cup races last season in place of injured driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. The Tucson, Arizona, native debuted July 17, 2016, at New Hampshire and went on to earn three top-10 finishes with the team including a sixth-place result at Phoenix, where he won the pole position and led a race-high 194 laps.
“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 joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2014 as a corporate partner and in 2015 became majority sponsor of the No. 88 Chevrolet with driver Earnhardt, who will retire from full-time racing at the end of 2017. Nationwide’s 19 primary races with Bowman and the team in 2018 will include the season-opening Daytona 500.
“We are thrilled to continue our relationship with Hendrick Motorsports and welcome Alex to the No. 88 Nationwide team,” said Terrance Williams, chief marketing officer at Nationwide. “Rick Hendrick and the No. 88 team have been exceptional partners for the last three years, and we look forward to our joint commitment and engagement with the NASCAR community, both on and off the track.”
Hendrick Motorsports signed Bowman on Oct. 6, 2016, following his first four races driving for Earnhardt and working with No. 88 crew chief Greg Ives. In 2017, he has been an integral part of the simulation and on-track testing programs for the 12-time NASCAR Cup Series champions and manufacturer Chevrolet.
“Alex impressed the heck out of us last year with his talent, poise and professionalism,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “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.