CONCORD, N.C. – Alex Bowman acknowledges there is going to be some pain, but he was ready to get back in the saddle of the No. 48 Ally Racing Chevrolet. Following a test on Tuesday at North Wilkesboro Speedway, he was cleared to return from a fractured vertebra for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 

"Honestly, as much as it was for me to get my head wrapped around what it was actually going to feel like, I feel like that was a part of getting cleared – having a doctor there and kind of going through that," Bowman said during a media availability on Saturday at Charlotte. "Glad we were able to do that. Would have liked track time today to kind of know what I signed myself up for tomorrow, but it was definitely good to be able to do that. 

"I ran a lot of laps in the simulator, which hopefully gives me an idea of what my race car is going to be like. I think it was really good for me, mentally."

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During the NASCAR-approved medical evaluation test, Bowman completed 170 laps. He also experienced the sensation of when the jack drops, which was something the 30-year-old described as his biggest fear, and he affirmed it didn’t hurt.  

Prior to missing four weeks, Bowman was enjoying his best start to a season. In the first 10 races of 2023, the Tucson, Arizona, native had three top-five finishes, six top-10s and a series-best 10.30 average finish. Entering Sunday’s race, Bowman is 17th in the standings, just five points outside the provisional playoff cutline. He has received a waiver that keeps him eligible to qualify for the playoffs.

"For us, we just have to do what we were doing," Bowman said. "We had the best average finish out of anybody at the time I got hurt. We had a massive points penalty, missed three points races and we’re still on the cutoff line. So, if we can just go back to how we were running, I know we can do it. Obviously, we want to go win races and I think that comes with how we were performing. Just have to go kick some butt."

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Now, Bowman’s first event back is also the sport’s longest mileage event of the season. With practice and qualifying washed out, he will take to the grid from the 31st position. The back of the pack starting position doesn’t faze his confidence in being able to get to the front in the crown-jewel event. 

"I have one of the best crew chiefs on pit road, the best race team on pit road, and a top-five pit crew on pit road – there’s no reason why we can’t accomplish it," Bowman said of his No. 48 Ally Racing team. "If I can drive the race car at the level that I think I’m capable of doing and we have a good car when we take off, there’s no reason we can’t win from 31st. 

"I want to make all the laps and I want to have a good, solid top-10 day coming back from breaking my back. There’s no reason that with our race team and our capabilities that we can’t win from anywhere we start every week."

See Bowman back in action in the Coca-Cola 600 on Monday, May 29, at 3 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).