Alex Bowman grateful for opportunity to drive

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 88 Axalta/University of Michigan Chevrolet, stands in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 26, 2016 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Getty Images)

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 88 Axalta/University of Michigan Chevrolet, stands in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 26, 2016 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Though he would prefer to be in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car under other circumstances, Alex Bowman hopes to make the most of his second chance to drive the No. 88 Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is still awaiting medical clearance after suffering concussion-like symptoms that have kept him out of the car.

Bowman subbed for Earnhardt at New Hampshire in July, running in the top 10 for much of the race, before a crash relegated him to 26th. Jeff Gordon took over the seat for the next four races, but a scheduling conflict kept Gordon out of the car at Michigan and gave Bowman his second shot.

“Honestly, for me being as close of friends as I am with Dale, I have just been hoping he gets to feeling better more than anything,” Bowman said Friday at Michigan. “Obviously, I’m more than happy to fill in whenever I can. New Hampshire was a lot of fun. Obviously, we ran a lot better than we finished. I hated that the race team didn’t get the finish they deserved.

“Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and Chevy and everybody—they have been so welcoming and easy to work with. It’s just been fun. Off the truck today we were really fast (14th in opening practice) and didn’t really get the qualifying run speed that we really wanted. But I feel like we have a good shot at it this weekend. It’s just so much fun to be able to come to a (Sprint) Cup race and be able to say that. I’m just really enjoying it and trying to make the most out of it.”

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