Alex Bowman takes first checkered flag of NASCAR career at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Upon Dale Earnhardt Jr‘s announcement that he would be retiring after suffering multiple setbacks from concussions, Hendrick Motor Sports had an announcement of their own to make. Tucson’s own and Ironwood Ridge alum Alex Bowman had filled in for Earnhardt for a good portion of last season and performed well enough to convince to the decision makers at Hendrick to make Bowman the man to officially replace Earnhardt and pilot the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 2018 season, starting at the Daytona 500. The announcement caused quite a stir and Bowman has had his fair share of critics.

Until Daytona however, the 24 year-old Bowman has been logging plenty of time on the track. On Saturday night, Bowman won the Drive for the Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In his first of two Xfinity Series races, Bowman piloted the No. 42 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet to victory after having secured the lead with about 30 laps to go in the race and held to the finish. Bowman’s first NASCAR win came in his 51st start.

Graphic via Fox NASCAR Twitter

““I’ve heard plenty of people say that I had never won any of the three NASCAR touring series races. I’ve had plenty of them slip away for various reasons, dominated plenty of them. We’ve led a bunch in a lot of them. It’s definitely very reassuring. Hopefully, it puts some of the people who talking to rest. We’re going into 2018 to win a lot races in that No. 88 car,” Bowman said. He hadn’t won a race of any kind since 2012.

Bowman’s first victory came on the heels of a milestone unveiling for him, in which he saw his name on the door of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet for the first time. Bowman will be taking the helm of the iconic Camaro that has undergone a paint scheme redesign.

The No. 88 Nationwide Cheverolet was made iconic by Earnhardt Jr and has undergone an paint scheme redesign for Alex Bowman. Photo via Twitter @AlexBRacing

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