Alex Bowman to Sit out Next Three NASCAR Cup Series contests

Noah Gragson will wheel the No. 48 Chevy the next three races
Noah Gragson will wheel the No. 48 Chevy the next three races

NASCAR’s latest Cup Series race car, its 7th generation of NextGen stock cars, has experienced compatibility issues with Goodyear tires and new wheels. It’s also been causing issues with drivers’ health. Introduced at the start of the 2022 season, a year later than planned due to the COVID pandemic, the NextGen cars were intended to resemble the Chevrolets, Fords and Toyotas upon which they’re based, use center-locking lug nuts on a new wheel design, have an independent rear suspension and sequential transmission on a modular, steel space frame.

The new car is demonstrably stiffer, which has made it difficult to tune, by comparison to the previous Cup Series vehicle that had been in use for a long time, from 2013 through last season. From the start, there were issues with the car, but until Kurt Busch had his July accident in Pocono qualifying, the complaints about the car were centered on wheels/tires and other ancillary issues. When Busch, driving for 23Xi Racing in the No. 45 Toyota Camry, was diagnosed with concussion symptoms, he was forced to sit out the next race. And the next… and the next.

Kurt Busch remains sidelined after his Pocono qualifying crash

Busch hasn’t been back in the 45 Toyota since July. His teammate, Bubba Wallace started using the number in order to get more owners’ points during the playoffs, as Busch had qualified for the playoffs with that car number. There hasn’t been much talk about his condition since it was announced in late August that he wouldn’t be participating in the playoffs, despite qualifying for the initial field of 16, one that’s been whittled down to eight after last weekend’s ROVAL contest at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Alex Bowman sustained concussion at Texas Motor Speedway in September

Busch isn’t the only one suffering concussion symptoms following a NextGen crash. Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman suffered similar issues after crashing at Texas three weeks ago, on September 25th. Bowman was sidelined immediately after the Texas crash in his No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Hendrick Motorsports signed Xfinity standout racer Noah Gragson to take over the No. 48 for Bowman as he recovered, thinking the driver would be back for the Round of Eight that begins this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. That’s not going to happen.

Hendrick Motorsports announced on October 12th that Bowman will sit out the next three NASCAR Cup Series races as he recovers. Bowman was evaluated earlier in the day at University of Pittsburgh (PA) Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion program by Dr. Michael “Mickey” Collins, who is the clinic director. 

“We have a tremendous amount of respect for the entire staff at UPMC,” said Jeff Andrews, president and general manager at Hendrick Motorsports. “Our priority continues to be Alex’s recovery and long-term health, and we will follow the plan that Dr. Collins and his team recommend. We’re not looking past the next three races and will evaluate plans or the season finale as the event approaches.” NASCAR’s Cup Series holds its final race at Phoenix Raceway, November 6th.

Bowman tweeted that’s he’d hoped to be back in the car this weekend. “I am continuing to focus my efforts on getting my health back to 100 percent, so that I can return racing as soon as possible,” he said. “I know that Noah will continue to do a great job representing the No. 48 and I’ll be cheering him and the entire Ally Racing team on every lap.” He thanked everyone for their support: “It means so much to me.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series points leader Noah Gragson is driving the No. 48 Cup Series Chevy the next three races (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Gragson, 24, continues to substitute for Bowman at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 16th, and will race October 23rd at Homestead-Miami Speedway and on the short Martinsville Speedway oval on October 30th. The Las Vegas native filled in for Bowman at Talladega Superspeedway on October 2nd and last weekend on the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL. Gragson competes full-time in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, driving the No. 9 Camaro for JR Motorsports. He is the series leader, with 3056 points to A.J. Allmendinger’s second-place 3044 points.

About Anne Proffit 1034 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

2 Comments on Alex Bowman to Sit out Next Three NASCAR Cup Series contests

  1. Wasn’t there a problem a while back with nascar modifieds. They were too stiff a chassis. Drivers getting hurt and killed. They had to be changed.

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