With Dale Earnhardt Jr. retiring at the end of the 2017 season, Hendrick Motorsports must decide who will replace him in the No. 88 Chevrolet SS. The decision could be a difficult one for team owner Rick Hendrick to make — unless he listens to the fans.
A recent poll conducted by FOXSports.com found that 49 percent of fans believe Alex Bowman should replace Earnhardt in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Bowman is used to filling in for the soon-to-be retired driver, as he competed in 10 races last season while Earnhardt was recovering from concussion symptoms.
Other potential selections appearing on the poll were Ryan Blaney, who received 17 percent of the vote and currently races for Wood Brothers Racing, and William Byron, who received 7 percent of the vote and currently races for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series.
Bowman, though, seems like the logical choice.
In relief of Earnhardt, Bowman logged a sixth-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway in November, and had an average finish of 19.7 in 10 races, according to FOX Sports. Including his time with BK Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing prior to joining Hendrick in 2016, Bowman has competed in 81 races on the Cup level.
Personally, we think the void Earnhardt will leave at Hendrick is inconsequential compared to the one he’ll leave in NASCAR. Replacing the sport’s 14-time Most Popular Driver award winner won’t be easy, but NASCAR might have the young talent necessary to pull it off.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images