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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – As Alex Bowman rose through the ranks in his racing career, he could never get too comfortable.

“Since I started stock car racing, I’ve never stayed in the same place for more than a year until I came to Hendrick Motorsports in 2016,” Bowman said.

Now, he has that security.

This week, Hendrick Motorsports announced a contract extension with Bowman through the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season.

“To continue here in this relationship means a lot to me and I think it means a lot to the team as well,” Bowman said. “Just having that security and knowing that we’re all in it for the next couple years and hopefully a long time after that, it means a lot to have them show a lot of faith in me like that. I’m just really enjoying it, trying to make the most of it, and right now we’re pretty focused on trying to make the playoffs.”

In addition, Nationwide extended its relationship with Hendrick Motorsports with a new two-year agreement that will see it increase its sponsorship of Bowman and the No. 88 team to 20 races per season beginning in 2019.

“We’re excited to stay committed to (Hendrick Motorsports owner) Mr. (Rick) Hendrick and the entire 88 team to continue to see Alex grow and develop into the driver that we know he is,” said Jim McCoy, Nationwide’s associate vice president of sports marketing. “Alex continues to develop into a great young driver but also does a lot for us as an organization off the track as well.”

One of those off-track initiatives is support of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. This week, Bowman made his third visit to the hospital, and he will pilot a special No. 88 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen.

On the car, 5-year-old Nationwide patient champion Bricen Thall’s name will be featured, and Thall and his family are at Watkins Glen as special guests of Nationwide and the No. 88 team.

“I’ve never seen a little kid smile so much,” Bowman said. “It’s cool to be a part of putting that smile on his face.”

“Seeing his smile, honestly, this weekend, has been pretty impactful.”

Driving the special scheme, the driver hopes to continue pushing toward a postseason berth. Coming off a carer-best finish, he currently sits 16th in the playoff standings, 56 points ahead of the 17th-place competitor, which would be the first driver to miss the playoffs.

“I feel like we’ve made a ton of progress – I think last week was a good testament to that,” Bowman said. “We’re only going to get better from here.”

And to have Nationwide along for the ride gives him even more confidence.

“To get to keep working with Nationwide, it’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “There are so many different aspects of the relationship that are very real to me and that I really enjoy. It’s always cool to have a partner you really enjoy working with.”