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      Gallery: The best photos from Alex Bowman’s Cup Series campaign

      © Phil Cavali Photography

      Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12
      Daytona 500 pole-winner
      Top-5s: 3
      Top-10s: 11
      Best finish: 3rd (Gander Outdoors 400 at Pocono Raceway)
      Laps led: 71

      Stepping in for Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver for the past 15 seasons, Alex Bowman had big shoes to fill in the No. 88.

      And the Tucson, Arizona, native didn’t waste any time doing so. In his first official run of the year, Bowman won the pole for the 60th running of the Daytona 500. The 25-year-old called it a “dream come true.”

      Bowman’s inaugural season as a full-time driver with Hendrick Motorsports also saw him reach the Cup Series playoffs for the first time, where he advanced to the Round of 12.

      Bowman, who had never recorded a top-five finish coming into the season, finished inside the top five in three races. He also registered 11 top-10s (he had three top-10 finishes entering 2018).

      Bowman will be back in the No. 88 next year, looking to defend that pole position when the season starts at Daytona.