Dale Earnhardt Jr. answered a bevy of fan questions Saturday night after the Monster Energy All-Star Race in what is a now-weekly tradition, including a handful of inquiries on if Alex Bowman will drive the No. 88 Chevrolet next year.
Bowman, 24, served as a substitute driver for 10 races last year when Earnhardt was sidelined with a concussion. The 14-time Most Popular Driver will retire from full-time racing following the 2017 season, opening a primo seat with Hendrick Motorsports.
“Alex Bowman to the 88 next year — is that what you guys want?” Earnhardt Jr. asked the fans who were following his Periscope live stream. “That would be pretty awesome to see Alex in that car. That’s the plan, I hope. … Yeah, Alex in the 88. That sounds good to me. That kid earned it last year. He ran good.”
Earnhardt Jr. has previously said he’d like to give input into the driver who replaces him, but also noted that ultimately was team owner Rick Hendrick’s decision.
Junior’s words on Bowman were his strongest yet as the team’s search for a replacement.
One driver Junior Nation shouldn’t expect to see in the car next year, though? Earnhardt’s neighbor Ryan Blaney.
“Blaney is working for (Roger) Penske,” Earnhardt said. “He’s not going anywhere. Penske’s not going to let Blaney go anywhere, and neither would I.”