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Alex Bowman will replace Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 at Hendrick Motorsports in 2021

Nick Bromberg
·4-min read

Hendrick Motorsports’ replacement for Jimmie Johnson already drives for the team.

HMS announced Tuesday that Bowman would move from the No. 88 car to the No. 48 car after the 2020 season and Johnson’s retirement from NASCAR. Bowman will continue to be paired with crew chief Greg Ives and the No. 48 will continue to be sponsored by Ally Financial.

“We have tremendous faith in this team,” Rick Hendrick said in a statement. “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.”

Bowman could advance to the third round of the NASCAR playoffs on Sunday at the Charlotte Roval. He enters the race 22 points ahead of the elimination cutoff and is sixth in the standings. The top eight drivers in the points standings advance to the third round of the playoffs.

The 27-year-old replaced Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 car after the 2017 season. Bowman has won two races in his time in the No. 88 and has 34 top-10 finishes in 103 races in that span. He earned his first career win at Chicago in 2019 and won at Auto Club Speedway in 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic halted the season for weeks.

Bowman was 16th in the standings in his first full season with Hendrick Motorsports and ended up 12th in 2019.

“I’ve worked my entire life to be in a situation like this,” Bowman said. “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.”

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE - SEPTEMBER 19: Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Axalta Chevrolet, stands on the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on September 19, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Alex Bowman will move from the No. 88 to the No. 48 in 2021. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Hendrick still needs another driver

Bowman’s move from the No. 88 car to the No. 48 car means that Hendrick Motorsports still has only three drivers for four cars. Will Kyle Larson be that fourth driver and join Bowman, William Byron and Chase Elliott?

Larson has been out of NASCAR since he was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing in April when he said a racial slur during a virtual race that was broadcast on NASCAR’s website. He’s been mentioned by numerous outlets as a possibility to drive for Hendrick in 2021 even though Chevrolet terminated its personal services deal with Larson after his firing.

Ally Financial was previously GMAC (General Motors Acceptance Corporation), a longtime sponsor of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s one of just two companies that sponsors a car for a full season in NASCAR. Bowman’s No. 88 has been sponsored by multiple companies in 2020.

Johnson has five more races at Hendrick

The seven-time champion has struggled in his final season racing full-time in NASCAR. He missed the playoffs for a second-straight season and is currently 17th in the standings with just four top-five finishes and nine top 10s.

A winless season for Johnson will mean his final NASCAR win came in June of 2017. Johnson’s winless streak is currently at 125 races and could stretch to 130 if he doesn’t get his 84th victory in the final five races of 2020.

While Johnson is retiring from racing full-time in NASCAR at the end of the season he’s not stopping racing entirely. He’s already agreed to a two-year deal with Chip Ganassi Racing’s IndyCar team to run road and street courses.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports

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