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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Bowman's return to full-time Monster Energy Cup Series racing was a bit of a mixed bag last season. The highs were definitely offset by the lows. The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet had some big shoes to fill in the way of the retired Dale Earnhardt Jr. Bowman labored to no wins, three Top-5 and 11 Top-10 finishes. He would be the first driver eliminated from the Chase and wind up 16th in the final driver standings of 2018. Bowman will once again be paired with crew chief, Greg Ives, and the two will look to move the bar higher in 2019. A part of their problems last season was the slow start and slow adaptation to the new Chevy Camaro. Now that one full season is behind them, that can no longer be an excuse. Bowman now needs to show the flashes of brilliance he had at Pocono, Dover, Talladega and the Charlotte Roval were no fluke. We don't believe they were. This driver and team are poised to have a much better 2019 season.
With the retirement of Dale Earnhardt Jr. it will be a new day at Hendrick Motorsports. In the void of the iconic driver a new face will be in the popular No. 88 Chevrolet this season. Bowman steps up from Hendrick's test driver role and into real racing and competition. He spent much of last year testing, but did manage a couple Xfinity Series starts with a surprising victory at Charlotte. Bowman impressed in his relief starts for Earnhardt in 2016. He bagged three Top-10 finishes in just 10 starts and showed good utility and talent racing in relief. Now that the No. 88 car belongs to him, he'll be paired with crew chief Greg Ives. The same dynamite sponsorship package that Earnhardt enjoyed will return and support Bowman. It's a situation set up for success. His 81 starts of experience will begin to pay dividends, and we would not be surprised to see Bowman break the 12 Top-10 finish plateau.
The young JR Motorsports driver made great use of his part-time schedule in NASCAR's top division last season. Bowman made 10 starts in relief of medically-sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Chevrolet. In those efforts he claimed his first-career pole position (Phoenix), his first Top-10 finishes (Chicago, Kansas and Phoenix) and actually dropped jaws wide open with his dominating 194-laps led from the pole performance at Phoenix late last season. Bowman also made some part-time starts for JR Motorsports' Xfinity Series team, claiming seven Top-10 finishes in just nine starts. While the only Monster Energy Cup Series plans to this point is for Bowman to race one of the Hendrick cars in the season-opening Clash at Daytona exhibition race, there are no current plans for him to compete at NASCAR's top level. Although he is a young face to watch closely as a door could open any day for this talented youngster.
This team was one of the more successful multi-driver lineups in the Xfinity Series last year. Harvick grabbed two wins for the team, and the other drivers all combined to nab 19 Top-10 finishes in the No. 88 Chevrolet last season. The lineup and starts should remain much the same in 2016, but gone is Ben Rhodes and Josh Berry, and in are Bowman and Elliott. The strong only get stronger in this sense. With this driver lineup of experience and youthful skill, we expect more wins in the upcoming season and more Top 10’s. Earnhardt failed to reach victory lane in his four starts last year, and that should certainly change this year. Bowman should make 9 starts for this team this season.
Signed with RAB Racing in January 2013 to drive the No. 99 Toyota and race for the Rookie of the Year in the Nationwide Series. Bowman was the 2012 Rookie of the Year in the ARCA Series after four victories and a fourth-place finish in the standings of that series.
More Fantasy News
On Outside Pole at Charlotte
Bowman will start from the outside pole in the Alsco 500k at Charlotte Motor Speedway Wednesday night.
Runner-up Finish at Darlington
Bowman finished second in the Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway Sunday afternoon.
Extended through 2021
On Outside Pole at Darlington
Bowman will start Sunday's The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway from the outside pole. NASCAR held a random draw Thursday evening to set the grid for Sunday's race.