I would never have this chance without the support of Dale and everyone involved with the No. 88 team.
As a former victor of the non-points event, Earnhardt was already eligible to race in the Clash, but having earned his way into the race and no longer needing an exemption seemingly encouraged him to consider the opportunity - even if he was set to retire at the end of the current season.
Bowman originally filled in for Earnhardt during the 2016 season when the veteran was recovering from a concussion, while the 24-year-old Bowman drove 10 races.
Earnhardt had publicly endorsed Bowman as his replacement, although Hendrick has spent the last few months seeing who else was available - former champions Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski as well as championship contender Carl Edwards were all possibilities - before eventually opting for Bowman.
Greg Ives will remain as the crew chief for the No. 88, a post he has held since 2015.
"Alex impressed the heck out of us previous year with his talent, poise and professionalism", Hendrick said. "Greg and the team loved working with Alex, and that dynamic will get even better with more time together".
Going into this weekend's Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, Earnhardt is 21st in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, meaning he likely needs a win in one of the next seven races to make the playoff.
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Norges Bank acquired a new position in shares of UnitedHealth Group during the fourth quarter worth about $1,530,177,000. Finally, Xact Kapitalforvaltning AB raised its position in shares of UnitedHealth Group by 4.1% in the first quarter.
"To have [Nationwide] extend with us is gratifying for our whole team", Hendrick said.
"The No. 88 team is such a great group of people".
Sure enough, current sponsor Nationwide will sponsor Bowman's No. 88 in 19 races as a primary sponsor in 2018, while Axalta ups its amount to 15. "I know we can pick up where we left off a year ago, and I truly believe we can win races and contend for a championship".
Bowman is no stranger to the No. 88 or Hendrick.
"I'm excited to build on the relationship with Nationwide and all of our partners".
He has 81 career Cup starts, mostly for underfunded teams. "Now I just want to go win".
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