Jeff Gordon: Alex Bowman ‘proved himself last year’ when substituting for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Jeff Gordon believes Alex Bowman more than “proved himself last year” when he substituted for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 10 races as Earnhardt recovered from a concussion.
Gordon, an equity owner Hendrick Motorsports and an analyst for Fox Sports, voiced his approval of the selection of Bowman to succeed Earnhardt in the No. 88 Chevrolet next season while appearing on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Gordon and Bowman combined to drive the final 18 races of 2016 while Earnhardt recovered.
“I was certainly somewhat involved in those discussion, but I think Alex proved himself last year when he got in the car,” Gordon said. “It was tough for me to jump in there and fill those shoes of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and all the hype and media around that. So for a young man like Alex to get in there and do the job and then all the work he’s done in the simulator, he’s paid his dues.”
In his 10 starts last year, Bowman earned three top 10s, including a career-best finish of sixth at Phoenix after he started from the pole and led 194 laps.
The pole earned him a spot in the Advance Auto Parts Clash in February, where he finished third.
“He’s worked hard, he and his family have sacrificed a lot to get to where he is today,” Gordon said. “If you look at his driving background, it’s impressive. I think what he did last year was amazing. Really the fans and the sponsors and Dale Jr. and the whole team, they’ve all spoken because of the job that he did and the way he handled himself in the car last year.
“I don’t think there’s any surprise that he’s getting this opportunity.”