Alex Bowman completed his first full-time season with Hendrick Motorsports in 2018 and made the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs for the first time in his career.
Bowman, who replaced Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Chevrolet, finished the year out with three top fives, 11 top 10s and ranked 16th in the final standings. This year marked Bowman’s first full season since 2015, when he competed with Tommy Baldwin Racing, and it started off by him winning the pole for the Daytona 500.
"We had a lot of ups and downs and it was cool to come off the couch and be part of the playoffs," Bowman said. "We improved a lot and I feel like we learned a lot. Now I’m looking forward to next season."
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During the regular season Bowman had an average finish of 16.0, while this is a solid number it changed during the playoffs into an average finish of 19.5. His best finish of the season happened at Pocono where he came home in third place. The second-best finish of the year was during crunch time at the Roval where he came home in third place and solidified his spot going into the Round of 12.
Despite finding this type of success at the right time, Bowman felt like things didn’t go as planned towards the final stretch of the season.
"I feel like we struggled to put together races towards the ladder half of the year" said Bowman. "We really struggled in the last seven races of the season"
While debuting full-time for his new team, this season presented another challenge not only with just Hendrick but the competition as well. This season Chevrolet rolled out the Camaro ZL1, which brought the element of having a new car to work with this season. In a season of domination by Ford and Toyota (32 wins combined) Chevy only scored four wins this season, including his teammate Chase Elliott scoring three.
Heading into a new season will also bring another challenge for the No. 88 team and competition a like with the brand-new rules package being in place.
"The package for next year is going to change everything," Bowman said. "Hopefully this benefits us going into next season. A lot of what we learned this year is out the window and you have to start over a bit. "
Following the close of this 2018 season, the offseason begins for drivers as most will find their way to vacation spots or just spending time with their families. For the case of an Alex Bowman he’ll be spending a lot of time bouncing around away from home and some trips to the race track that started this past weekend with the Gateway Dirt Nationals in St. Louis and then Du Quoin, Illinois in two weeks.
"I’m going on vacation with some buddies in Jackson Hole over New Year’s," Bowman said. "Following that we’ll head up to Tulsa for the Chili Bowl. I’ll bounce around all over the place, I won’t be home very much, but I’m going to enjoy it as much as I can."