As Dale Jr.’s successor, Alex Bowman feels pressure from a different source

AVONDALE, AZ - MARCH 10: Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway on March 10, 2018 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

You might think Alex Bowman would chafe under the weight of the pressure that accompanies stepping into the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet vacated by Dale Earnhardt Jr. after last season.

You’d be wrong.

What motivates Bowman to a greater degree is the history of Hendrick Motorsports, where winning races and titles has become the expectation over the past three decades.

“I think, honestly, there’s not a lot of pressure in the fact that it’s Dale’s old car, it’s the No. 88 car,” Bowman said. “The pressure for me comes from the fact that it’s a Hendrick Motorsports car. Hendrick Motorsports is known for winning races and winning championships, and that’s what I’m expected to do.

“I think most of my pressure comes from myself and the fact that I just want to win races and prove that I can do it. For me, there are a lot of No. 88 fans, obviously, and my job is to give them something to cheer for. I don’t feel like we’ve done a very good job of that this year. We’ve had hints of brilliance and hints of being able to run up front, but we haven’t consistently given them something to really cheer for every weekend.

“We know we need to get better, and I think that will come with wins, but there’s not a lot of pressure from the Dale side of things. It’s just pressure because I want to win.”

Thirteen races into the season, Hendrick is still looking for its first win, but the speed of the Hendrick cars has improved recently. Bowman comes to Sunday’s Pocono 400 (at 2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) fresh from his fourth top 10 of the season (ninth in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte).

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.