Race Weekend Central

Alex Bowman to Drive the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 in 2018

The pieces to the puzzle of the NASCAR Silly Season have started to come together.

Alex Bowman has been declared as the driver that will replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet following Earnhardt’s retirement at the conclusion of this season.

The announcement was made Thursday morning (July 20) following a number of teases on the HMS Twitter page.

Greg Ives will remain as the crew chief for the No. 88, a post he has held since 2015.

“Ever since I was a kid, racing is all I’ve wanted to do,” Bowman said in a team release. “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.”

Bowman is no stranger to the No. 88 or Hendrick. He has spent the past two seasons working as an HMS test driver and drove the No. 88 for 10 races last season while Earnhardt was out for concussion symptoms. He competed in the Clash at Daytona International Speedway earlier this season after earning his way in with a pole in his 2016 relief campaign.

The 24-year-old has had Earnhardt’s endorsement; it was only a question of if the No. 88 sponsors would go along with it.

Sure enough, current sponsor Nationwide will sponsor Bowman’s No. 88 in 19 races as a primary sponsor in 2018, while Axalta ups its amount to 15.

“Alex impressed the heck out of us last year with his talent, poise and professionalism,” Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, added. “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.”

The Tucson, Ariz., native is no rookie. He has 81 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts to his credit, including two full seasons driving for BK Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing in 2014 and 2015.

Bowman will strap into the No. 88 for the first time at the 2018 Daytona 500.

About the author

Michael Massie is a writer for Frontstretch. Massie, a Richmond, Va. native, has been a NASCAR superfan since childhood, when he frequented races at Richmond International Raceway. Massie is a lover of short track racing and travels around to the ones in his region. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies.

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Sol Shine

Glad to see this, he showed his stuff last year and earned this shot.

Bill B

Glad to see that Hendrick was able to give Bowman a proper chance and reward for his service to the company.

And another piece of the Silly Season puzzle is put in place.

That was the only “sure” open ride so far. All the other top tiered openings are speculation at this point (5, 10, 41, 21, 77 etc.). Not looking good for Kenseth. I’d say the highest probability ride now shifts to the 10 or 5 (unless the 77 becomes an option).


I think Kenseth will end up in the 10 – it would really add a level of good to SHR. Would love to see RPM fund a second team for Wallace, and i agree – great to see Bowman get a great chance.

Bill B

Well if there is any justice in the universe then that will be the case. Trading a driver who doesn’t deserve the ride they have for one that deserves a top tier ride.


Should’ve be driving it in 2017.


Great move by Hendrick, shows he rewards effort and loyalty. Now Put Matt in the 5 for 2 yrs while you groom Byron.


Alex needs seat time now or the 88 will.be in the same position that it’s in now.


Why would Rick pay Kase y cash to buy out his contract for one year to put high dollar Matt in that ride for one year till Byron comes up. Stupidest thing I have ever heard. The sponsors want Byron and that’s who they will get, when it’s time. Matt has no sponsor money, so no good or mediocre ride for him. Heck, no goodbye, retirement year for Matt. Instead, just like Biffle, pffft and he is gone.


Rick does not want Matt, period.

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