Alex Bowman signs one-year contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports

Hendrick Motorsports will return three of its four drivers in 2021.

Alex Bowman announced Saturday that he had re-signed with the team for the upcoming season. Bowman was set to be a free agent at the end of the 2020 season.

Bowman has been in the No. 88 car for Hendrick since Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement at the end of 2017. Bowman won the first race of his career in July at Chicago, and followed that up with his second win in March at Auto Club Speedway before the NASCAR season went on a 10-week hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic. The NASCAR Cup Series season restarts Sunday at Darlington Raceway.

That win at ACS in the third race of 2020 means that Bowman will make the playoffs for a third straight season. Bowman was 16th in the standings in 2018 and finished 12th in 2019.

His one-year contract extension means that Hendrick has Bowman, William Byron and Chase Elliott back for next season. Hendrick still needs to find a replacement for Jimmie Johnson as the seven-time champion is retiring at the end of the 2020 season.

And the market of replacements is, ostensibly, thinner with Kyle Larson’s departure from the Cup Series. Larson, who was fired from his ride at Chip Ganassi Racing for using the N-word during a virtual race during the hiatus, was set to be the most coveted free agent in NASCAR ahead of the 2021 season.

Larson was frequently mentioned as a possible successor to Johnson at Hendrick. But as CGR fired Larson and Chevrolet ended its personal services deal with the driver, it’s hard to envision Larson driving a Hendrick car in 2021.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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