Alex Bowman through the years
By Chase Wilhelm | Tuesday, December 15, 2020
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Over the course of his NASCAR Cup Series career, Alex Bowman has worked his way from running for a smaller team to winning in the prestigious No. 88 for Hendrick Motorsports. See the journey Bowman has taken, a long and winding road that has added a pair of visits to Victory Lane, including his first win in 2019 at Chicagoland Speedway.
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In 2011, Bowman became part of the original NASCAR Next class. Other current NASCAR Cup Series competitors who joined him in the same class include Daniel Suarez, Bubba Wallace and Matt DiBenedetto.
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A four-win ARCA Menards Series season in 2012 paved the way for his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series start in September at Chicagoland Speedway, piloting the No. 30 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet to a 17th-place finish.
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Bowman competed in 32 Xfinity Series races with Robby Benton Racing in 2013, earning two top fives, six top 10s and two pole awards to finish 11th in the final standings.
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Bowman made his first career NASCAR Cup Series start in the 2014 Daytona 500, the start of a full season slate for BK Racing. Bowman finished 23rd in his Cup debut.
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A 13th-place finish in July at Daytona International Speedway was tops for Bowman during his rookie Cup season. He also was not afraid to let his personality show.
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Bowman moved to Tommy Baldwin Racing for the 2015 season, competing in 35 races and recording a best finish of 16th in the spring race at Talladega.
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More winds of change came for Bowman during the 2016 season. After departing Tommy Baldwin Racing, with his career in the crosshairs, Bowman logged nine Xfinity Series starts for JR Motorsports, earning three top-five and seven top-10 finishes. A pole at Michigan and a season-best third-place result at Dover were highlights and showed Bowman still knew how to wheel a race car.
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With the lingering effects of a concussion sidelining Dale Earnhardt Jr. for nearly half of the 2016 season, it was Bowman who got the call up to sub for him, sharing the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet with four-time champion Jeff Gordon.
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Bowman's first race as Earnhardt's substitute driver was at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July 2016. Bowman finished 26th but showed solid speed throughout the race.
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Bowman competed in 10 races while filling in for Earnhardt, accruing three top-10 finishes. More importantly, he gained the respect of many throughout the Hendrick organization.
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Bowman earned the Busch Pole Award for the season's penultimate race at Phoenix Raceway. The then-23-year-old driver led 194 of the 324 laps, announcing himself to the world. An incident with Matt Kenseth while leading late in the event pushed Bowman back to a sixth-place finish.
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Dale Earnhardt Jr. would return for a farewell tour in 2017, but gave up the seat to Bowman for the Advance Auto Parts Clash season-opening exhibition race at Daytona, following his Phoenix pole as a substitute. It also was announced later in the year that Bowman would take over the No. 88 car full time beginning in 2018.
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Waiting for his full-time ride to open up, Bowman spent the 2017 season acting as Hendrick Motorsports' simulator and test driver, along with two Xfinity Series starts. Bowman won his first NASCAR national series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October of that year.
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Bowman came out swinging in his first full-time season with Hendrick Motorsports, putting the No. 88 Chevrolet on the pole for the Daytona 500.
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A third career full-time Cup season -- but first with Hendrick -- saw Bowman make the playoffs in 2018, earning three top-five and 11 top-10 finishes en route to ending the year 16th in the final standings.
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Why the long face? Well, Bowman showed plenty of speed once the 2019 season kicked into gear, but fell just short of Victory Lane. Consecutive races at Talladega, Dover and Kansas all yielded second-place finishes.
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And finally, a checkered flag. Alex Bowman saw his late-race lead disappear in the final 10 laps at Chicagoland, but he rallied to pass Kyle Larson moments later and win his first career NASCAR Cup Series race. Fittingly, he led 88 laps to do so.
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2019 was a solid year for Bowman. With one win, seven top fives, and 12 top 10s he qualified for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Bowman finished the season 12th overall.
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A dominant win in the third race of the 2020 season at Auto Club Speedway locked Bowman into the playoffs. He would ink an extension to stay at Hendrick two months later.
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Hendrick Motorsports announced on October 6 that Bowman would shift to the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet in 2021, replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson.
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Bowman reached the Round of 8 in the 2020 NASCAR Playoffs -- the furthest he's gone in the postseason. The 2020 season saw Bowman post career bests in top 10s (15), laps led (440) and standings finish (sixth).