DOVER, Del. – Alex Bowman is home resting and in good spirits following an injury that will keep him sidelined for three-to-four weeks, Hendrick Motorsports team president and general manager Jeff Andrews told media members on Saturday morning at Dover Motor Speedway.
Bowman suffered a fractured vertebra in a sprint car event on Tuesday evening at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa.
"We miss him here this weekend," Andrews said. "We want him to get well and get back here soon.
"… He’s having the best year of his career in the Cup Series and this is a temporary setback. We look for him to come back strong."
In the first 10 races of the season, Bowman has had three top-five finishes, six top-10s, a series-best 10.30 average finish and ranks ninth in points. The 30-year-old driver has a win at Dover as he headlined the team’s historic top-four finishing positions sweep in the 2021 race.
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While this is the second injury suffered this season to one of the team’s drivers (Chase Elliott missed six races following a fractured tibia in a snowboarding accident), it is the first extracurricular racing accident the organization has had with one of its drivers being sidelined. Andrews noted that while simulator work is beneficial, drivers feel it is not the same as being behind the wheel of a race car. The continued reps racing in different series across the country helps them stay sharp.
"For our perspective, we have to evaluate it, we have to look at it and we have to understand what the right balance is," Andrews said of the extracurricular racing done by drivers. "We certainly don’t want to tell them no to something that we feel like would help them here on Sundays. As a company, we will continue to look at it, continue to talk to our guys and make sure that we are making the right decisions together."
Hendrick Motorsports has applied to NASCAR for a medical waiver that will allow Bowman to remain eligible for the 2023 playoffs. The seven-time race winner in the Cup Series has qualified for the postseason in all five of his seasons to date at Hendrick Motorsports. While Bowman is out, Josh Berry will drive the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for crew chief Blake Harris.
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"This year, we have done a good job of just reacting with whatever has been thrown at us," Harris said. "This will just be another thing that we look back on and we’ll react accordingly. We’ve got full support of Alex. We want him to get well. As soon as he’s healthy and ready to come back, we’ll plug him back in and we’ll keep digging.
"We show up every week with the plan to win races. We were going to have to win races to get into the playoffs. If we were leading points, we were planning on winning races. When he gets back, we’ll have to win races and we’ll get ourselves in good position to make a run at the title. I don’t see that we look at it as anything different than just another bump in the road here that we’ve got to get across. We’ll go do the best that we can here for Josh, the 48 team and Hendrick Motorsports the next few weeks. When Alex is back and ready, we’ll be ready too."
Berry made five Cup Series starts for Hendrick Motorsports when Elliott was out. The 32-year-old driver from Hendersonville, Tennessee earned a career-best runner-up finish at Richmond Raceway on April 2, and also tallied a top-10 result at Phoenix Raceway. Driving for Hendrick Motorsports affiliate JR Motorsports, he is a five-time race winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. One of those victories came at Dover in 2022.
"Obviously, it is difficult situation to step in again," Berry said. "I hate that for Alex. Alex has been a friend to me over the last couple of years. You never want to see anybody injured like that."
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Berry hopes that he can do for the 48 camp what he was able to do for the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts team earlier in the season. Having gotten familiar with the Next Gen car while filling in for Elliott should help speed up the transition this go-round.
"The way I look at it is, ultimately, this is Alex’s race team. My job in this situation is to just try and keep these guys going, prepared and happy. Just ready to rock and roll whenever Alex gets back. That was the mentality we took with the 9 and they came back (when Elliott returned) and hit the ground running. That shows a little bit of me in that moment of keeping the morale and everything up high.
"These guys are off to a great start to the season and they are going to be championship contenders throughout the year. My job is not to come in here and win every race. My job is to adapt, do the best I can and keep everything pulling in the right direction. I feel like we were able to do that with the 9. We had some good results along the way and hopefully we are able to do that with the 48."