For most drivers in their 20s, replacing Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 car would be an overwhelming task. For Alex Bowman, though, taking over the Hendrick Motorsports vehicle is just another star legacy to follow.
Bowman is going from fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s former No. 88 to Johnson’s longtime digs when the former steps away from the Cup Series in 2021. Hendrick Motorsports announced the move Tuesday.
Bowman is having his best season to date this year, but would need to take another significant step forward to live up to the lofty standards of the No. 48 for even a short stretch. Still, he’s not intimidated by the move.
“It’s tough to take over from the most popular of all time, and then three years later to follow that up with arguably the greatest of all time,” Bowman told NASCAR.com. “But it means a lot to me that everybody at Hendrick Motorsports has faith in me, and Ally has faith in me to do a good job and make the 48 car proud.”
Bowman broke through in 2018 with a 16th-place Cup Series finish. He came in 12th last year.
This season, he’s primed to advance to the NASCAR playoffs Round of 8 for the first time in his career. His car has been under-the-radar in recent months, rarely making serious runs at race wins but nonetheless stacking up points. There’s a widespread belief he can push further in the coming years to be more assertive and, at times, dominant on the track.
Johnson, meanwhile, is retiring from the Cup Series following an uncharacteristic downturn since the start of the 2017 campaign. He last won a title in 2016.
While Bowman’s two career Cup Series race victories are pennies compared with Johnson’s whopping seven championships, Hendrick Motorsports believes in his ability to keep improving.
“Every season, Alex gets better,” said team owner Rick Hendrick. “Not only do we see it in the statistics, but his confidence and leadership have truly blossomed. Today he’s a proven winner and playoff contender, and his best years are ahead.
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