Alex Bowman will drive the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 next season, taking over for seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, who will contest a part-time IndyCar Series schedule in 2021.
Take over, but not replace.
“I can’t put my respect for Jimmie into words,” Bowman said in a press release. “To me, the No. 48 team’s legacy is about winning, but also how you go about your business. It’s leadership, confidence, work ethic, being a professional and holding yourself to a higher standard. No one will ever be Jimmie, and he’s given us a championship blueprint to follow.”
This is the second time in his six-year Cup career that Bowman has been selected to inherit a legendary car number. He took over for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 at Hendrick Motorsports in 2018 and next the No. 48 with continued sponsorship from Ally Financial.
Bowman will continue forward with his current crew chief, Greg Ives, who previously served as an engineer with Johnson and the No. 48 during their run of five straight championships from 2006-10.
“I’ve worked my entire life to be in a situation like this,” Bowman said. “The opportunity to drive a legendary car like the ‘48’ with incredible support from Ally, it truly can’t get any better. I’m excited to build on my relationship with Greg, who is a championship-caliber crew chief and knows first-hand what the No. 48 is all about. The pieces are in place, and I’m grateful to Mr. Hendrick and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports and Ally. We’re ready to do it right. “
Hendrick Motorsports says it will address its plans for the No. 88 in the next few weeks, but there is a growing expectation that Kyle Larson is the leading candidate.
Johnson has endorsed the decision and it was given approval from Ally, who wanted a championship caliber driver in the No. 88 moving forward. Bowman is poised to advance into the Round of 8 this weekend if he successfully navigates the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval event.
“Alex is absolutely the right driver to carry on the legacy of the No. 48 – and he deserves a sponsor as committed as he is,” said Andrea Brimmer, chief marketing and public relations officer for Ally. “He’s young, hungry to win and ready to give it all he has. We’re eager to make the most of his energy and dedication to build more momentum for racing, find new ways to disrupt the sport and help broaden NASCAR’s reach even further.”
Sponsorship is the key component to this deal, as Hendrick Motorsports has struggled to provide the No. 88 team consistent funding. The team has been supported by five different primary sponsorships in 2020.
Bowman has won in each of the past two seasons and team owner Rick Hendrick expects Ives to continue unlocking their potential over the next several seasons in the 48.
Long considered a blue-collar underdog, Bowman spent his first two full-time seasons with the underfunded Tommy Baldwin Racing and BK Racing organizations. Without a ride in 2016, Bowman took a R&D job with Hendrick that included driving part-time in the Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports.
When Earnhardt retired after the 2018 season, Bowman was the unanimous choice to drive the No. 88 by everyone within the organization, a testament to the driver’s resolve and faith in the team.
“We have tremendous faith in this team,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “Every season, Alex gets better. 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. Greg has won championships and races, and he brings the No. 48 pedigree that’s invaluable. When you add in the amazing enthusiasm and support from Ally, it’s quite a combination.
“Their partnership makes it all possible, and we look forward to celebrating many successes together in the future.”
I’ve had 19 mind blowing seasons in the 48, now it’s your turn @alexbowman88. I know I’m leaving her in great hands brother. #DoItRight pic.twitter.com/Rv4YFWbJhT
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