NASCAR America: Alex Bowman filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at New Hampshire

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Alex Bowman will be racing in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 car this weekend at New Hampshire with Earnhardt sitting out of the race because of concussion-like symptoms. It will be the first Sprint Cup race of the year for Bowman, who races part-time in the Xfinity Series for Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports.

“It’s an opportunity,” said NASCAR on NBC analyst Jeff Burton. “You don’t want to sound like you’re insensitive, but the bottom line is in this sport a lot of people get opportunities for a lot of different reasons, and he’s got to look at it that way.”

Bowman last started in a Sprint Cup race in the 2015 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“There’s a lot of believers in Alex that he can get it done at this level,” Burton said. “What he’s got to do is not push too hard. He can’t try to be Dale Jr, he can’t be Jimmie Johnson. He has to be himself.”

Bowman’s best finish in his four Xfinity races this season is fourth at Dover. In four Sprint Cup starts at NHMS, Bowman’s best finish was 28th in 2014 with BK Racing.