Alex Bowman announced Thursday afternoon that he will not race this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway after undergoing medical evaluation for concussion-like symptoms stemming from a crash last week at Texas Motor Speedway. According to a Hendrick Motorsports statement, Bowman was evaluated by physicians Thursday in Charlotte, N.C.
Bowman was running eighth midway through last weekend's race at Texas Motor Speedway when he blew a right rear tire through Turns 3 and 4, hitting the outside wall with the rear end of his car. Although the contact looked relatively minor and Bowman was able to complete the race with a damaged car, he would later say that the impact was the "hardest I've crashed anything in my entire life."
"I'm disappointed but know my health is the number one priority," Bowman said in a statement. "I am committed to follow all medical guidance to ensure I can return to competition as soon as possible."
Noah Gragson will step into the No. 48 Chevrolet as the substitute driver for Bowman. Gragson had already been entered in Sunday's YellaWood 500 at Talladega, where he was originally slated to drive the No. 62 for Beard Motorsports. Justin Allgaier will drive the No. 62 in Gragson's place.
Bowman's injury is a potential mortal blow to his championship hopes, as he had advanced to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs and was set to enter Talladega 26 points below the playoff cut line. If Bowman is able to return by next weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, he will likely have to win in order to advance to the Round of 8.
The incident also continues an alarming trend with the Next Gen car, which has been criticized by competitors for being too rigid in crashes and causing drivers to absorb too much of the force from an impact. Bowman is the second driver this season to be sidelined by a concussion, with the other being Kurt Busch,after suffering a concussion in a crash at Pocono.
Bowman's absence will end a streak of 174 consecutive starts dating back to the beginning of his full-time tenure at Hendrick Motorsports in 2018. The only other race Bowman has missed as a full-time driver was the 2015 Daytona 500, where he failed to qualify while driving for Tommy Baldwin Racing.