Alex Bowman’s first ride in the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet couldn’t have gone any better.
The 24-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver won the pole for the Daytona 500 on Sunday with a lap mph of 195.644. Denny Hamlin finished second after turning a lap at 195.092, and the rest of the field will be determined by Thursday’s Can-Am Duels.
Sunday marked Bowman’s debut in the famous No. 88, which until last season was driven by the recently retired Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won the Daytona pole seven times in his career.
Watch Bowman’s winning lap in the video below:
Go get ’em, kid.
Earnhardt was quite impressed by Bowman and the No. 88 team’s performance.
After winning the pole, Bowman spoke about a dream he once thought would never come true.
“I think it’s still a little surreal,” Bowman said, via ESPN. “It’s a dream come true just to drive for Hendrick Motorsports. I never would have thought it would happen after the path my career took.”
After racing full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2014 and 2015 for BK Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing, respectively, Bowman struggled just to find rides in NASCAR Xfinity Races in 2016. But a concussion forced Earnhardt to miss the second half the season, which gave Bowman a 10-race audition for HMS owner Rick Hendrick.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports