CONCORD, N.C. — Alex Bowman was officially named as Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s replacement on Thursday morning, becoming the new full-time pilot of the No. 88 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for 2018.
Bowman will carry sponsorship from Nationwide Insurance for 19 races, including the season-opening Daytona 500.
The 24-year-old native of Tucson, Arizona piloted the No. 88 Chevrolet SS in 10 of the final 18 Cup races last season in place of Earnhardt, who was out of the seat due to a concussion.
Bowman debuted with the team in July at New Hampshire and went on to earn three top-10 finishes, highlighted by a sixth-place result at Phoenix after winning the pole and leading 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, one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the United States, joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2014 as a corporate partner and in 2015 became majority sponsor of the No. 88 Chevrolet with Earnhardt.
“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.”
In addition to Nationwide’s one-year extension, Axalta Coating Systems — a leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings — will increase its number of races featured as the primary sponsor of the No. 88 team by two for next season for a total of 15 Cup events with Bowman.
Axalta has been a Hendrick Motorsports corporate partner since 1992 and a sponsor of the No. 88 Chevrolet since 2016.
Despite not being on track in a Cup car this season, Bowman has been an integral part of the simulation and on-track testing programs for both Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet.
“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 and the team loved working with Alex, and that dynamic will get even better with more time together.”
“Our relationship with Nationwide is unbelievable. They have a true passion for NASCAR and our fans, and to have them extend with us is gratifying for our whole team. It’s also a credit to the way Alex carried himself last season and built lasting relationships. We’re fortunate to work with partners like Nationwide and Axalta that have built impactful, enduring programs around the countless opportunities our sport provides.”
CREDIT: Hendrick Motorsports