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Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Replacement Hasn't Competed In NASCAR Full Time Since 2015

Photo credit: Jason Hanna/Getty Images
Photo credit: Jason Hanna/Getty Images

No matter how many weird rituals or blood sacrifices Junior Nation has done to prevent the retirement of NASCAR’s favorite son Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the end of the season, it’s happening. And as of Wednesday, his replacement is officially lined up: 24-year-old Alex Bowman will drive the No. 88 car in 2018.

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You might not know much about Bowman, considering that his last full-time season in the top-level Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series was 2015. Bowman, a driver who’s competed mostly for underfunded teams during his Cup career, raced 35 of 36 races that year after failing to qualify for the Daytona 500. He’s made one start across all of NASCAR’s top-three series this year, according to Racing Reference, which was a Camping World Truck Series race in Atlanta.

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But 2018 won’t be his first time in the No. 88 car. Bowman shared the seat with semi-retired NASCAR substitute Jeff Gordon while Earnhardt was out with a concussion in 2016, competing in 10 races with both a best finish of sixth and a pole position at Phoenix International Raceway.

The only thing that’ll really look different on the car in 2017 will be the name across the windshield, since Earnhardt’s current Cup sponsors, Nationwide and Axalta, are hanging around for 2018. The announcement about Bowman taking over the car didn’t mention anything further than 2018, which sounds like the deal Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas had at Mercedes after 2016 champion Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement—but hey, that isn’t going too badly for him.

Anyway, here’s race team Hendrick Motorsports’ announcement about it all:

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Best of luck to him. Wake me up when we learn how to time travel and I can keep reliving the Junior era for the rest of my days.

Staff writer, Jalopnik

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DISCUSSION

jeffreyconover
Le Monstre

The Jr. Era sucked, get over it. He is comparable to a more successful version of Kyle Petty in the sense that their father was an icon, while they come in with the best cars and team and mustered a fraction of their fathers. He had 26 wins, and bested a 3rd place finish in the points. The reason there is so many Jr. Fans is thanks to Sr. Dying in the most Earnhardt way possible, then he had a a feel good win at the next Daytona.

I had a friend that was a huge Earnhardt Sr. Fan, as soon as he died, he switched to the Jr. Bandwagon and acted like he was there since day 1.