Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Be Replaced by Alex Bowman in No. 88 Car in 2018

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 20, 2017

Alex Bowman smiles to team members in his garage during a practice session for the Clash NASCAR auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
Terry Renna/Associated Press

Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday that Alex Bowman will replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. on a full-time basis in the No. 88 NASCAR Cup Series car during the 2018 season.

According to a press release (h/t ESPN.com's Bob Pockrass), Bowman commented on the opportunity to succeed NASCAR's most popular driver:

"Ever since I was a kid, racing is all I've wanted to do. 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. [Rick] Hendrick to have this confidence in me, it's just amazing."

Earnhardt is in the midst of his 19th and final Cup Series season, as he announced in April that he will retire at the conclusion of the 2017 campaign.

Bowman has experience replacing Earnhardt after filling in for him on 10 occasions last season when Junior was out due to concussion-like symptoms.

The 24-year-old Bowman has 81 career Cup Series races to his credit, and while he has finished inside the top 10 on only three occasions, they all came last year in the No. 88 car.

Bowman hasn't raced competitively this season with the exception of one Truck Series start, but he has been employed by Hendrick Motorsports driving simulators to aid in car setups, per Pockrass.

In 2018, Bowman will join Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Kasey Kahne in Hendrick's stable of Cup Series drivers.

Hendrick Motorsports has won seven of the past 11 Cup Series championships with Johnson securing all of them.