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CONCORD, N.C. -- Thursday morning brought huge news for the No. 88 team -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been medically cleared to resume NASCAR competition after making a full recovery from a concussion.

While his 2017 debut will come at the Feb. 26 Daytona 500, a driver who served as a fill-in for the No. 88 team in 10 races last season got some big news as well.

Alex Bowman will race the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS in the Feb. 18 season-opening, non-points The Clash at Daytona International Speedway. He qualified for the event as a pole position winner from the previous season, punching his ticket with a pole at Phoenix International Raceway in November.

“Alex did such a great job in the car this year, and I felt like he deserved another opportunity,” Earnhardt said. “When I spoke with Rick and the team about him driving The Clash, everyone agreed that he more than earned it, and Nationwide was 100-percent on board. I’m really grateful to him and Jeff for what they did for our team, and I’m glad Alex is getting another run with us.”

Bowman said "it means a lot" for Earnhardt to offer him the chance to race in The Clash, and he's "thankful for the opportunity" that Earnhardt and Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick have provided.

"I definitely have to thank Mr. H and Dale for allowing me to run The Clash, but also I have to thank Nationwide for all their support," he said.

Hear more from Bowman about the opportunity and his entire 2016 season in the video above.