AVONDALE, AZ — Alex Bowman made it a point to return to the seat of his No. 48 Chevrolet this weekend. He could have just sat it out. Why make a cross country trip for the season finale when you’ve already missed the previous 5 weeks? What’s the gain here?
For Bowman’s case, a lot.
First off, he grew up 125-miles south east of here in Tucson. It meant a lot to get back behind the wheel at his defacto home track.
Secondly, Sunday’s Season Finale 500 (3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN) also serves as his crew chief’s final race at his job. He’s moving off the pit box for 2023. Bowman, who’s had his most success with Greg Ives, didn’t want to go out without one more race with him.
“I think having a goal to come back this year kept me working really hard and really accountable for what I was doing,” Bowman said on Saturday afternoon from the Phoenix Raceway media center. “You know, I think if we would have said, we’re going to take the rest of the year off, it would have been way easier to sit on my butt and not work as hard so I think that was good.
“For me and obviously, you know, a lot of motivation to come back with Greg (Ives) so you know, definitely a lot of different emotions. We’re obviously caught up and trying to just try to enjoy it and you know, really happy for him and the next step in his career.”
Bowman said he is for sure feeling the nerves of coming back but isn’t second guessing doing so either. He just doesn’t ever want to go through that experience ever again.
“I think just how bad those couple of weeks were to go through like it was not fun kind of living that like, I don’t want to go through that again,” he says. “It sucked. You know, anybody that has been through similar things can relate it. It’s not a fun injury to go through and to know that you know, if things go the wrong way that can stick with you forever. It’s scary. So yeah, I mean, just trying to trust the right people and lean on the right doctors and make the right decisions. And nobody had any hesitation about me coming back.”
As far as the process, Bowman says that after the Texas crash, he was feeling the effects. Then he felt completely normal for a couple of days after. Then Wednesday game. The headaches settled in. So did the pain. It wasn’t fun. He says that it was that night, he realized something was definitely wrong. Initially, he felt like that was weird to be feeling it, to not feeling, it feeling it again two days later.
“Wednesday night, I realized that something was definitely wrong,” Bowman said. “Which was weird because Tuesday I felt completely fine. Right. And again, that’s part of concussions. I think everybody gets their symptoms differently and kind of later on SEC symptoms are, I guess way more normal than I would have thought. When I told the doctors what I was going through, they weren’t surprised by any means that I felt really fine on Tuesday. So yeah, I mean, by Thursday morning, we were pretty clear that I wasn’t going to drive the race car that weekend. I think they were working on plans while before I saw the doctors, so you know, while unfortunate that’s it’s part of what we go through.”
Did that feeling on Wednesday scare him? I asked him if it played mind games with himself because was he truly feeling what he was feeling or was he going to end up fine again?
“Yeah, I mean, I was in constant communication with quite a few people on our team between Jeff and Mr. H and Greg and everybody so yeah, there were definitely mind games like and that nervousness,” he said. “Am I making the right decision? Is this really what’s going on? But I think that Saturday and Sunday were really bad. Like that Wednesday was bad. But then Thursday and Friday weren’t as bad as Wednesday and then Saturday and Sunday were really bad. And that was when I was like, man like there’s no way I can be driving a race car right now. So yeah, it was a is a bummer but yeah, definitely was, was really starting.”
Bowman says that the first couple of weeks after this to where the headaches and the high pain were bad and not fun at all. He tried to keep himself busy and just go through the days and know that it’s going to be a wave of emotions and feelings but that’s all part of the process.
In the meantime, his competitors were reaching out and checking in on him. NASCAR on the other hand, wasn’t.
“Yeah, Kurt and Dale and honestly, the whole Cup garage was really supportive,” he told Jerry Jordan of Kickin The Tires during the scrum. “You know, Kevin Harvick reached out quite a bit and a bunch of guys reached out so just appreciate all their support. It means a lot. I’m a quiet guy I keep to myself. So to have all those guys reaching out, was really cool and definitely appreciate it.”
He says it took NASCAR four weeks in to reach out, but it was Steve Phelps to do so, so he was appreciative of that. Nevertheless, Bowman says you can control what you can control and this weekend is all about getting back comfortable inside of his No. 48 Chevrolet.