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Editor’s note: This year, Alex Bowman will check in from time to time on to provide insight into the 2018 season from his own perspective. Below is his first entry.

Five years ago – even three years ago – I never would have imagined I’d end up where I am right now. But here I am, the driver of the No. 88 Chevy Camaro ZL1, about to head to Daytona International Speedway.

The way my career path panned out, I didn’t really think Hendrick Motorsports was going to come calling. But it’s an absolute dream come true to be at Hendrick Motorsports. It’s going to be really surreal until we unload in Daytona. But I’m ready to go.

In fact, my family might be even more excited than I am. They’re so supportive. I think they’re pumped to go to the racetrack to cheer for us running up front, and that’s exactly what we plan on doing.

My dad and my grandmother will be down in Daytona, and I know they’ll be pumped up.

The 500 is a pretty special race. It’s crazy to walk out on the driver intro stage and see all the people – it’s just huge. I’ve made the 500 once, I’ve missed it once. Going down there locked in is obviously going to be a very different type of week for me, so I’m relieved about that.

Before you get going green there, it’s almost overwhelming. There’s so many people and it’s just such a big deal. I think it’s probably going to hit me once we get going and strap in. It’s hard to predict exactly what it’s going to feel like when I climb behind the wheel, but I think it’s going to be really special, for sure.

And I’m glad I get to do it with a No. 88 team that I’m already familiar with. Obviously, we have some new faces, but I think we can pick up right where we left off from those 10 races in 2016 and contend for wins out of the box. I’m even more confident of that thanks to the Xfinity win at Charlotte last year.

Honestly, I was pretty worried about being rusty going into this year, so to go to Charlotte not having raced for so long and go win was really special. I kind of surprised myself a little bit. I thought I’d be quite a bit rustier than I was, so that gave me a lot of peace of mind coming into 2018.

From the moment I found out I’d be driving the No. 88 Chevy until now when I’m finally about to get behind the wheel, it’s felt like forever. Like, legitimately forever. I’m just glad that we’re almost there and about ready to go.

I’m honored and grateful for the opportunity in front of me, and I’m glad to have you all along for the ride with me.

I’m just ready to get to the racetrack and get to racing.