Alex Bowman has spent the last three weeks watching Josh Berry drive his No. 48 Ally Financial Chevrolet Camaro, after suffering a fractured vertebra in a sprint car accident on April 25th.
And, despite an initial assessment of three-to-four weeks before he can get back behind the wheel, the Tuscon, Arizona native is still unsure when he’ll be able to return to the NASCAR Cup Series.
“I don’t have a time for an estimated return,” Bowman said on Sunday. “I have a doctor’s 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.”
This weekend’s NASCAR All-Star Race continues to be one of the most anticipated events that the NASCAR Cup Series has seen in a long time, so is competing for the $1-million dollar prize still on the table for Bowman?
Sunday’s NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro is one of the most anticipated events that the NASCAR Cup Series has seen in quite a while, so is competing for the $1-million prize still on the table for the 30-year-old driver?
“It’s hard to answer that without seeing what the X-ray says this week,” Bowman explained. “Really, I’m not a doctor, so I don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, but I haven’t had an X-ray since the injury. So until we do that and see how it’s healing, I just don’t know.”
Bowman was originally scheduled to compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at North Wilkesboro Speedway for Spire Motorsports but will forgo that race as he recovers from injury, making way for Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson.
“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.”
“This week, I was able to get back into the gym a little bit, which was really good because not working out for a couple of weeks is like the worst thing in the world for me. They have these air bands that kind of pump up around your muscles so you can work out with really light weights and still get a good workout from it. I was doing curls with five-pound weights. Typically I do 10’s, so five’s was a good workout for me.”
Alongside the physical impact of Bowman’s injury, comes the mental gymnastics associated with not being in the racecar on a weekly basis, like he has been for much of his NASCAR career.
“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 racecar, but everybody at Hendrick Motorsports has been super supportive, as well as everybody at Ally.”
Although Bowman is confident that he could run in a simulator, right now, without any major issues, it is the impact-related activities that he believes would cause him pain in his current state, like the jack being dropped after a pit stop.
While the Tucson, Arizona-native doesn’t know a ton about his current situation, he will find out more when he goes to his appointment on Wednesday. From there, he says he will have a further understanding of where he is in the recovery process.
Though, despite missing three races – Dover, Kansas, and Darlington – Bowman remains in a solid position as far as the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs are concerned, only five points below the cutline in 17th.
“I don’t think so. We’re still in the Playoffs, right now in points where we sit,” Bowman explained when asked if he feels he’s thrown his season away. “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.”