The search for Dale Earnhardt Jr’s replacement was over long before it could ever begin–and the honour of becoming the new #88 is being handed to Alex Bowman.
There were many fan-favourites and speculation that ran about the moment that Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced his decision to retire from racing come 2018. Despite the game of “Guess Who?” that many fervent NASCAR fans were playing, the cards have all landed in front of Alex Bowman. 24-year-old Tucson native will be officially stepping in for Dale after his highly successful stint with Hendricks Motorsport as Earnhardt Jr’s impromptu replacement following the concussion sustained by the older driver last year.
Just responded to 565 texts, thank you all for the support, means the world to me! Been a crazy day!
— Alex Bowman (@AlexBRacing) July 21, 2017
Bowman has already proven that he is not one to squander an opportunity to show what he’s made of. In the ten races that he made as replacement driver for Earnhardt, he managed to finish in the top ten on three different occasions – as well as leading the race at the Phoenix Raceway for 194 laps before finishing sixth. If that’s not an indicator of high future potential and incredible performance, nothing is.
Understandably, Bowman has been over the moon regarding the news, and has wasted no time profusely thanking all those that made such an achievement possible:
“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.” – Alex Bowman
Despite his young age, the young Bowman has been making all the right moves to impress the folks that need impressing. Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick was quick to pile on the compliments for the incoming #88, highlighting the young driver’s enthusiasm for results and stalwart dedication to performance:
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.” – Rick Hendrick
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) July 20, 2017
There is no doubt that Earnhardt Jr. takes solace in knowing that his legacy will be passed on to a most deserving candidate. Not to imitate, of course, but to carry the weight and reputation that the #88 carries into an even brighter future.