After months of speculation and rumors swirling about Matt Kenseth taking over the No. 88 for Hendrick Motorsports for the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series, the racing team has finally announced a replacement following Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s retirement.
In April, Dale Jr. shocked the NASCAR community with his retirement announcement and almost immediately, a wildfire of gossip and gab over who would be seated behind the wheel of the No. 88 once the new season had begun.
With Kenseth on his way out of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 this year, industry experts were eyeing him as one of the most suitable replacements – especially given his track record, but with the official announcement coming down the pipe today, many were caught off guard by who the team chose for Dale Jr.’s replacement.
Posting the official statement today, Hendrick Motorsports confirmed that Alex Bowman would be stepping up to take the wheel from Dale Jr. in the 2018 season!
This shouldn’t surprise many folks as Bowman had done quite a good job when he took over for Dale Jr. during his absence for the second half of 2016’s season following his concussion diagnosis.
As the team writes in their statement, “One year after his impressive debut with Hendrick Motorsports, the team has named Alex Bowman full-time driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Cup Series with a 19-race majority sponsorship from Nationwide beginning in 2018.”
Bowman himself spoke out following the announcement, saying, “Ready to go win some races. Thanks to everybody for all the support. Never thought this day would come.”
Even Dale Jr. himself applauded the decision and congratulated the young driver on earning his spot behind the wheel of a car in the top NASCAR division.
“He worked so hard for this opportunity,” Dale Jr. wrote on Twitter. “A huge thanks to [Nationwide 88] fans for supporting Alex. 2018 is going to be exciting.”
Watch the team’s video announcement below and let us know what you think about this decision for Dale Jr.’s replacement in the comments.