Concussions have now taken two drivers out of NASCAR Cup Series title contention.
Alex Bowman will miss Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Roval because of the concussion he sustained during the Texas race on Sep. 25. Bowman, who is one of the 12 drivers in the second round of the playoffs, missed last weekend’s race at Talladega. He could have advanced to the third round of the playoffs if he was able to participate at Charlotte and won the race.
“With my health continuing to be my number one priority, I will not return to racing this weekend at the NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway,” Bowman said. “I am continuing to make strides in my recovery to make sure I can return to competition at 100%.”
Xfinity Series driver Noah Gragson will replace Bowman in the No. 48 car again.
“Alex’s health is our first priority,” Hendrick Motorsports president Jeff Andrews said in a statement. “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 is one of three full-time Cup Series drivers slated to miss Sunday’s race due to injuries suffered in crashes. Kurt Busch suffered a concussion during a crash in qualifying at Pocono over the summer and has been out ever since. Busch, who won at Kansas in May, was in line to be a part of the playoffs had he been able to return for the postseason.
Cody Ware will also miss Sunday’s race because of lower-leg injuries suffered in a vicious wreck at Texas. Ware was cleared and able to participate in the Talladega race but is out for the Roval because of the shifting and braking required around the hybrid oval and road course track.
The driver absences come as NASCAR has faced more and more scrutiny from within about the safety of its new Cup Series car. Both Bowman and Busch backed into the wall in relatively innocuous-seeming crashes. The sanctioning body is set to test a new rear for the car that could better absorb and dissipate impact, though that rear clip wouldn’t be implemented in 2023. Drivers have noted all season long how hard crash impacts have felt and said the car was much more rigid than its predecessor.