Hendrick Motorsports officially announced Alex Bowman will replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 car next season, and the 24-year-old’s rise to the Cup Series started in 2014.

Bowman got to know Earnhardt in 2014 when the two were paired together after qualifying next to each other, and Bowman said the two “started a friendship there.”

Bowman said he “wouldn’t be here” without Earnhardt’s support.

“It’s been really cool to have his support,” Bowman said. “He’s been a great friend and another person that without his help I wouldn’t be here.”

Related: Hendrick Motorsports officially announces Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s replacement

According to Hendrick Motorsports, Earnhardt convinced Bowman not to take a full-time gig before the 2017 season. Earnhardt’s advice and Bowman’s patience paid off as Bowman landed the 88 car less than a year later.

Bowman said he recognizes the pressure involved in taking over for Earnhardt, and he said, “It means a lot” for him to take over for him next season.

“Obviously I’m not Dale Jr.,” Bowman said. “I’m not going to fill Dale Jr.’s shoes by any means. I just want to be my own person and do my own thing. I’m not going to even try to be Dale Earnhardt Jr. He’s his own person and I’m my own person.

“But to drive a car that he drove and to take that over, hopefully maintain a lot of support from JR Nation – they’ve been great and super supportive every time I’ve driven the car – it’s going to be really neat.”

Having Earnhardt’s support should make the transition much smoother for Bowman and Earnhardt’s passionate fan base.

(h/t Henrdick Motorsports)

Alex Bowman “wouldn’t be here” without the help of a NASCAR legend Jerry Markland/Getty Images
Cole Frederick About the author:
Cole Frederick is from a small town in Alabama, and he graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in journalism. He loves all sports - especially football and basketball - and quotes The Office frequently.
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