Alex Bowman is the latest NASCAR Cup Series driver to be sidelined with concussion-like symptoms, and he will now miss his second consecutive race.
Hendrick Motorsports confirmed Tuesday that the driver would not compete at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL this weekend after being evaluated by physicians that afternoon. This comes after Bowman missed last Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.
“Alex’s health is our first priority,” Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports, said in the announcement. “We’re focused on supporting his recovery and seeing him back in his race car when the time is right. Alex has a long career ahead of him, so we will invest the necessary time and take our guidance from medical experts. We’re putting no pressure on him to return before he’s 100% ready.”
Bowman reiterated in a statement that his health remains “my number one priority.”
Bowman’s concussion symptoms stem from his Sept. 25 accident at Texas Motor Speedway. He triggered a caution on lap 98 after a tire blew and his vehicle backed into the wall at Texas. He could be heard over the radio saying, “I don’t understand how this thing is still rolling. That’s the hardest I’ve crashed anything in my entire life.”
His spotter, Kevin Hamlin, responded over the radio, “You just hit in the worst spot on these cars, bud.”
“After the race, he said he didn’t feel good. But it was Monday morning, I didn’t know anything because he stayed in the car,” team owner Rick Hendrick said recently, per the Associated Press. “Then Monday morning he didn’t feel well. They started working with him Tuesday. Wednesday was good. He felt much better. Then Thursday he backed up, he didn’t feel good, so he went to see the doctor.”
Noah Gragson will step in for Bowman again this weekend. Kurt Busch is the other Cup Series driver who has suffered concussion-like symptoms and has not returned since his July 23 wreck during qualifying at Pocono.
Several NASCAR drivers did not hold back, both on social media and during last weekend’s media appearances, in speaking about the safety of the Next Gen car. Kevin Harvick tweeted Sept. 29, the same day that Bowman announced he’d miss Talladega, “Completely unacceptable that those in charge have let things get to this point. I remember it like it was yesterday @dennyhamlin in the presentation of the new car to the drivers pleading that the car was to stiff. Data didn’t agree. TIME TO LISTEN TO THE DRIVERS CRASHING THEM!
Denny Hamlin tweeted the same night, “Pretty disappointing that our sanctioning body refuses to acknowledge or accept any responsibility for drivers getting hurt. It’s the same THEY said. WE knew better. It’s wrong these drivers continue to get taken advantage of by the system.”
Chase Elliott said ahead of Talladega, per The Athletic’s Jeff Gluck and Jordan Bianchi, “It just blows me away we can have something new in 2022 that offers all of this technology … and we allow it to go backward, especially with safety. It’s just super surprising to me we allowed that to happen. But we did — and now it’s just about, how do we go forward from here.”
NASCAR does plan to hold a crash test in Ohio and meet with the drivers while in Charlotte. But come this weekend’s playoff race, there is another driver who will not be competing—Cody Ware. He suffered a foot fracture after a hard collision with the wall, and he ended up in a boot and crutches. He was medically cleared to race and did compete at Talladega, but he won’t in Charlotte.
“We just were late to the party,” Hamlin said. “We brought up these concerns with NASCAR last winter … We threw up red flags over a year ago, and they just didn’t respond. They just kept pushing that this car’s got to be on the racetrack at all costs. At all costs.”
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