After missing the last 5 races due to a head injury, Alex Bowman will return to his seat in the No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Cup Series season finale at the Phoenix Raceway. The Arizona native was medically cleared to compete.
Bowman, 29, suffered a concussion Sept. 25 at Texas Motor Speedway. The Tucson, Arizona, native was cleared Thursday following a full evaluation by Dr. Michael “Micky” Collins, clinical director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program.
“We’re thrilled Alex is 100% and will have the opportunity to race at his home track,” said Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports. “Throughout this process, he’s been incredibly diligent about following the advice of his doctors and prioritizing his health. All of us look forward to welcoming Alex back and seeing him finish 2022 with his No. 48 teammates.”
Noah Gragson has filled in for Bowman for the last four Cup Series races and will drive the No. 48 Chevrolet again this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. In the substitute role, he has posted a best finish of 11th, which came Oct. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“Due to the timing (of the medical clearance), everyone agreed it was best to stick with our plan for Martinsville and allow the team to fully prepare for Alex’s return next weekend,” Andrews said. “On behalf of everyone at Hendrick Motorsports, we’re grateful to Noah for stepping in and doing a terrific job under difficult circumstances. He’s a big talent and has been a complete professional.”
As far as why he’d come back for just one race and elect not to just sit out the remainder of the season and be even better when the 2023 season begins next February, it’s all mental. It’s about pushing yourself to see how you feel inside of a race car and mentally telling yourself that you’re okay and that you can do this.
Plus, Bowman is from Tuscon which is south of Phoenix.