Dale Jr. Download: Alex Bowman reveals how he learned of Nationwide’s contract extension

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There were some tense moments for Alex Bowman before he learned his primary sponsor, Nationwide Insurance, had agreed to a two-year extension with Hendrick Motorsports.

That news was announced last week in conjunction with Bowman’s one-year extension.

But for a few minutes, Bowman feared Nationwide might actually be leaving the team.

Bowman shared the story on this week’s Dale Jr. Download.

“I was in the shop with the guys for all our Tuesday meetings,” Bowman said. “I got a text from (PR rep) Kelsey (Tucker), that said, ‘Hey, can you come upstairs (for a meeting)?'” Bowman said. “I said, ‘What’s it about?’ She said, ‘Well, did you hear about Nationwide?’

“I was like, ‘Oh no. What did I do wrong?'”

Bowman called it the “most ominous text message ever.”

“My heart is pounding, right?” Bowman said. “I’m like, ‘Hopefully that’s good news and not bad news.'”

Tucker responded, “Yeah, they signed back up for two years.”

“I was like, ‘Thank you, baby Jesus,'” Bowman said. “That was a pretty frantic two-and-a-half minutes waiting for her to text me back.”

Watch the above video for more.

Hendrick Motorsports signs extensions with Alex Bowman, Nationwide through 2020

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Alex Bowman and Nationwide Insurance will be with Hendrick Motorsports through 2020, the team announced Thursday.

Bowman signed a one-year extension with the team, while Nationwide entered an two-year extension to sponsor the No. 88 Chevrolet in 20 races in 2019 and 2020.

The company is the primary sponsor for 19 races this season.

The news comes four days after Bowman, 25, placed third at Pocono Raceway for the best finish of his Cup career.

Bowman, who has 102 career starts, is in his first full season with Hendrick after replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88.

Nationwide joined Hendrick as a corporate sponsor in 2014 and was a primary sponsor of Earnhardt from 2015-17.

“Having this kind of support is incredible,” Bowman said a press release. “From Nationwide and our other partners to Mr. Hendrick, (crew chief) Greg (Ives) and all my teammates, I feel very fortunate to be in such an awesome position. We have an opportunity to have a lot of success together. To hear a sponsor like Nationwide and a team like Hendrick Motorsports say I’m their guy gives me a ton of confidence and motivation to go out there and deliver results.”

Bowman has been a member of the Hendrick organization since Oct. 2016 when he signed during his tenure as a substitute driver for Earnhardt, who missed the final 18 races of the season due to a concussion.

“We have such a strong partnership with Nationwide,” said Rick Hendrick in the press release. “From doing great things in the community with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to driving significant value back to their business, it’s truly impressive to see how they consistently make the maximum impact with their racing program. We appreciate the incredible relationship with their whole team and look forward to more great things in the coming years.

“Alex has the talent to win races and compete for championships. He and Greg are clicking, and we have a lot of confidence in what they will accomplish together. From our driver and team to our sponsors, we have an exciting No. 88 program that’s set for the foreseeable future.”

Through 21 races this season Bowman has two top fives and eight top 10s along with earning the pole for the Daytona 500.

He is 15th in the point standings with five races left in the regular season.

Does Dale Earnhardt Jr. want to be NASCAR’s version of Peyton Manning?

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Nationwide Insurance has kept former NFL great Peyton Manning busy during retirement with a series of humorous commercials that include the infamous “Nationwide is on your side” jingle.

During his opening remarks at Tuesday’s retirement announcement, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took time to recognize his family’s long-standing relationship with the company.

“Steve Rasmussen, Terrance Williams and Jim McCoy, all the folks at Nationwide, our partnership goes back a very long time,” Earnhardt said. “Maybe you guys heard it, but the Earnhardt family has been with Nationwide for more than 30 years.”

But then Earnhardt snuck in a suggestion that many people may not have caught immediately: once he retires from Cup after this season, he’d like to continue doing commercials for the company in a similar way that Manning has during his retirement.

“But what I’m proud of more is we’ve accomplished a lot in the last 10 years,” Earnhardt said. “I hope you guys are as proud as I am, and by the way, Jim, I know you’re here in the room. I’m just going to say what everyone else here in the room is thinking, your brilliant use of the retired Peyton Manning is to be commended, if not replicated.”

You could almost hear the wheels turning in Earnhardt’s head with some ideas for funny commercials.

Here’s some of Manning’s more memorable post-retirement commercials for Nationwide: