Alex Bowman takes over Hendrick No. 48 in 2021

RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 22: Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's for Pros Chevrolet, talk with owner Rick Hendrick on the grid prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway on September 22, 2018 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

One of the Silly Season pieces fell into place Tuesday. Hendrick Motorsports announced that Alex Bowman will take over the No. 48 in 2021 for the retiring Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson announced late last year that 2020 will be his last as a fulltime driver in the NASCAR Cup series. Bowman, a 27-year old native of Tucson, Arizona, made his NASCAR Cup debut in 2014 and moved to Hendrick in 2016 taking over the No. 88 after Dale Earnhardt Jr. retired. He has two wins.

“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.

“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.”

Bowman will continue to be teamed with crew chief Greg Ives, who won five Cup Series championships while serving as the No. 48 team’s engineer from 2006-2012. Ives, 41, was part of 42 wins, 113 top-five finishes and 21 pole positions with the team before beginning a successful career as a crew chief that has included the 2014 NASCAR Xfinity Series title and five Cup-level race wins. Together, he and Bowman have secured three straight playoff berths and delivered a victory in each of the last two seasons.

Bowman and Ives remain in the hunt for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series championship after advancing to the playoffs Round of 12. Following the season, which concludes Nov. 8, the duo will transition to the No. 48 team from the No. 88 entry they have campaigned together since 2018.

“We have tremendous faith in this team,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “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.”

The team said a driver and crew chief for the No. 88 will be announced at a later date.

Greg Engle