Alex Bowman Still Recovering from Fractured Vertebra; No Timeline for Cup Return

The Hendrick Motorsports driver doesn't have an estimated time for his return, but will see a doctor on Wednesday for a status report.


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After a fantastic start to the season, Alex Bowman has been relegated to the sidelines for the last three NASCAR Cup Series events, after suffering a fractured T-3 vertebra in a sprint car accident at 34 Speedway on April 25.

Now, as the beginning of the three-to-four week window given for Bowman's return approaches, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series winner says he still isn't sure when he'll be approved to return to racing, and whether or not that will include Sunday's NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro.

"I don't have a time for an estimated return," Bowman said at Darlington Raceway on Sunday. "I have an appointment this week to get some more x-rays to see how it's healing and we'll go from there. I'm obviously mobile. Obviously, a lot of people have had that flat landing in a sprint car and have been hurt much worse than I was. I’ll heal up and come back when I can.”

All things taken into consideration, the physical recovery process is going well for Bowman, who got the opportunity to workout in the gym this week, a positive for the 30-year-old driver, who says that "not working out for a couple of weeks is like the worst thing in the world" for him.

Mentally, though, there still exists a twinge of disappointment, as Bowman continues to take the stance that he had nobody to blame but himself, as a result of the injury happening while racing outside of NASCAR.

“It sucks really bad, but it’s pretty self-inflicted. It was my choice to go sprint car racing and I know what I was signing up for. Yeah, it really sucks being outside of the race car, but everybody at Hendrick Motorsports has been super supportive, as well as everybody at Ally.”

Speaking to the media at Darlington, Bowman recalls the experience of having to make a phone call to members of his Hendrick Motorsports team about the injury he sustained while racing his sprint car that night.

"I talked to about everybody while I was laying in the hospital in Iowa," Bowman said. "I thought I was fixing to get yelled at, but I think the sympathy of the pain that I was in helped out. Everybody has been super supportive, so just appreciative of that because they had every opportunity to be pretty mad at me. Glad they weren’t and glad they’ve been nothing but supportive. You never want to make that call and let your team down like that. But at that point, there was nothing I could do. It had happened, it’s done. Just have to move forward from it.”

Photo Credit: Andrew Coppley, HHP, Courtesy of Chevrolet Racing

Though the accident happened nearly three weeks ago, Bowman says he's still currently experiencing some pain, however only in certain strenuous situations.

“I would say the most painful thing for me is laughing, coughing, sneezing, or trying to sleep. Like, laying down hurts pretty bad,” said Bowman. “Standing up and walking around isn’t so bad. I’ve been able to walk the whole time, so that’s been nice. I’ve kind of kept myself busy.”

As far as his ability to get back into the car, Bowman says that sitting down for a long period of time wouldn't be the issue, citing he believes that he could run in the simulator, right now, if he had to.

However, it was be different types of activities like doing up his seatbelts, or impact-related things like the crew dropping the jack on a pit stop, or heaven forbid being involved in a crash, that would really cause him the most pain, right now.

As far as being able to get himself back into the No. 48, Bowman says that sitting down for a long period of time wouldn't be the issue, citing that he believes he could run the simulator, right now, if he was required to.

However, it would be different activities while in the car, like doing up his seatbelts, or impact-related activities like the crew dropping the jack on pit stop, or heaven forbid getting into a crash, that would really cause him pain, right now.

Those circumstances likely aren't ideal for a driver like Bowman, who will likely make anywhere from eight to 10 pit stops in every NASCAR Cup Series event this year, the Tucson, Arizona-native says that he won't truly know more about his situation until he visits the doctor on Wednesday.

Despite missing three races and accruing a 60-point penalty post-Richmond, Bowman remains 17th in NASCAR Cup Series points, only five points outside of the post-season cutoff heading into the series' next points race, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

That in itself is a decent accomplishment, which provides Bowman with some confidence that him having to be sidelined for a handful of NASCAR Cup Series events this year, hasn't completely totalled the team's season, leaving them within range of making the Playoffs.

"I don't think so. We're still in the Playoffs, right now in points where he sit," Bowman said prior to Sunday's 400-mile race. "You look at what Kyle Busch has done and what other guys have done post-injury. It sucks, right? It’s not where I want to be, especially with the season that we were having. But I know we can be as strong as we were before I got hurt when I come back.”

For the time being, though, Bowman will have to remain on the sidelines to make sure that he fully heals before returning to the NASCAR Cup Series, thus to avoid a third multi-race absence over the course of 12 months time.

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