NASCAR: Hendrick Motorsports announce driver lineup change

Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR - Auto Club Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR - Auto Club Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Alex Bowman is set to move from the #88 Chevrolet to the #48 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.

In a move that has been speculated since Hendrick Motorsports signed him to a one-year contract extension back in mid-May, Alex Bowman is set to move from the #88 Chevrolet to the #48 Chevrolet for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Nowhere in that confirmation did it specifically confirm that Bowman would be back behind the wheel of the #88 Chevrolet.

Now we know he won’t, although he is still set to compete with crew chief Greg Ives.

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Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson announced last November that the 2020 season would be his 19th and final season behind the wheel of the #48 Chevrolet.

The #48 team already has a full-time primary sponsorship agreement with Ally Financial that runs through the 2023 season, so it made sense for the team to move Bowman, who is in need of sponsors, to move to the #48 Chevrolet as Hendrick Motorsports seek to add a fourth driver for next year.

Chase Elliott, the driver of the #9 Chevrolet, and William Byron, the driver of the #24 Chevrolet, are both already under contract through the 2022 season.

Hendrick Motorsports have not yet officially announced Johnson’s actual replacement, who will presumably drive the #88 Chevrolet that Bowman currently drives unless they renumber that car, which isn’t out of the question.

Here is what team owner Rick Hendrick had to say about moving Bowman to the #48 Chevrolet in a team release.

"“We have tremendous faith in this team. 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.”"

Here is what Bowman had to add.

"“I’ve worked my entire life to be in a situation like this. 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.“I can’t put my respect for Jimmie into words. 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.”"

Here is what Andrea Brimmer, chief marketing and public relations officer for Ally, had to say about Bowman taking over the legacy of the #48 Chevrolet.

"“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. 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.”"

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Bowman sits in seventh place in the playoff picture heading into the third and final race of the round of 12 of the four-round, 10-race playoffs at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, where he finished in second last year.

Through 31 of 36 races this season, he has one win, with that coming in early March at Auto Club Speedway, and three additional top five finishes. He has led a career-high 394 laps.