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      Alex Bowman striving to bring the No. 88 to victory lane in 2019

      © Phil Cavali Photography

      “It was important for my Hendrick Motorsports team to start off strong in Daytona last season,” Alex Bowman said. “We had the new Camaro ZL1 body and it was great putting that brand-new car on the front row for the Daytona 500. It definitely isn’t a bad way to start your first full-time season with Hendrick Motorsports”

      © Phil Cavali Photography

      It was a dream beginning for the Tucson, Arizona, native in his fresh No. 88 last season. A pole win in his first official event as a full-time driver with Hendrick meant he started at the front of the Daytona 500.

      Bowman made it four straight years that Hendrick Motorsports won the season-opening pole. Jeff Gordon took the No. 1 spot in his final full-time season in 2015 before Chase Elliott grabbed back-to-back Daytona 500 poles in 2016 and 2017.

      “Daytona is such a different track when it comes to qualifying,” Bowman said. “So it helps set up your momentum early on in the season, but you are playing different cards in qualifying throughout the remainder of the year.”

      That early momentum helped Bowman make it to the Cup Series playoffs for the first time in his career, where he advanced to the Round of 12. The 25-year-old put together three top-5 and 11 top-10 finishes in 2018, topping out with his third place at Pocono Raceway in July.

      So what is Bowman looking for after a successful first season with Hendrick? For one, he’s trying to lock up a playoff spot a little earlier in the year this time around with a trip to victory lane. 

      “I want to win. This No. 88 team deserves to be in victory lane and I think we will get there. We have to continue making gains each and every week in order to get to that point. We will build off of last season and take what we learned and apply it to this season.”