Alex Bowman: "I’m not here to try to be Dale Earnhardt Jr."

Alex Bowman is getting the opportunity of a lifetime, but it was one born from some unfortunate circumstances.

Alex Bowman: "I’m not here to try to be Dale Earnhardt Jr."
Alex Bowman
Alex Bowman, JR Motorsports Chevrolet
Alex Bowman, JR Motorsports Chevrolet
Doug Duchardt, Hendrick Motorsports general manager
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Alex Bowman, Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet

Bowman has a lot to thank Dale Jr. for. After being pushed out of his Cup ride just before the start of the 2016 season, he found a new home at JR Motorsports, running a partial schedule.

“I think I can really thank Dale, Jr. for saving my career two years ago pretty much, with those two Xfinity races at Charlotte and Phoenix, and then for the opportunity to run nine races this year with him.

"He has been a good friend to me. He has been somebody that I can lean on all the time. Obviously, I hate to see him not feeling well. That was my first thought but, he has done a lot for my career and I couldn’t be any more thankful than I am. I owe him a lot. It’s just been an honor to get the phone call to fill in for him.”

Now, he's gotten the call to drive the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet himself in what he calls a "crazy 12 hours." Although the 23-year-old was recruited to assist the team, it's an audition of sorts as he tries to break back into the premier NASCAR division.

"My job is just to plug in to the No. 88 race team and do. I’m not here to try to be Dale Earnhardt, Jr. I’m my own person, but I just need to plug in and give them the best feedback I can. Just be a part of their program in a similar way that Dale would be. I just have to do my job. Obviously, I would like to impress people, but I’m not going to do anything crazy. I’m just here to plug into their race team.”

Looking towards the future

When asked by Motorsport.com on SiriusXM NASCAR about the search for young talent as the veteran drivers start stepping away, Hendrick Motorsports general manager Doug Durchardt had this to say:

"We're going to have those conversations. We understand the situation. Jimmie Johnson is over 40 and so is Matt Kenseth. But if you look at the level of performance of them and the level of fitness of Jimmie Johnson, I'd put him up against anyone in the garage area.

"I don't know if age is necessarily a factor in performance, but at some point, it's going to come to an end. So we have some time to plan for this, but obviously not ready to talk about all that yet."

If Earnhardt is not able to race at Indianapolis, it won't be Bowman behind the wheel. The team confirmed that they will put the recently retired Jeff Gordon in the car in a surprise announcement. But regardless, Bowman could still potentially play a larger role in the future of one of the sport's most successful teams.

"I think for Alex, he's very level-headed and it's an opportunity for him to show himself," Duchardt added. "It's not an easy thing. You have to manage your emotions, and you're excitement and your adrenaline ... And just try to do the very best you can."

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Hendrick Motorsports sets no timetable for Dale Jr.'s return

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