Alex Bowman fractures vertebra in sprint car crash; out 3-4 weeks – NASCAR on NBC Sports

Alex Bowman is expected to miss the next three to four weeks after fracturing a vertebra in a sprint car crash Tuesday night, Hendrick Motorsports announced Wednesday.
Josh Berry will drive the No. 48 for Bowman while he recovers. Berry drove five races for Chase Elliott when Elliott was out after fracturing his left tibia in a snowboarding accident. Berry finished second at Richmond in the No. 9 car.
The Cup Series races at Dover, Kansas and Darlington the next three weeks. The All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway is four weeks away and would be a question of if Bowman would compete in that event. Bowman has six top-10 finishes in 10 races this season.
“We’re relieved Alex is home, in good spirits and getting world-class treatment,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, in a statement from the team. “Giving him ample time and the foremost resources to heal is our top priority. He’s having a tremendous season, and the No. 48 is at the top of its game. We know what Josh is capable of in the race car and that Blake (Harris, crew chief) and the team will continue operating at a high level until Alex is ready to return. He has our full, unequivocal support.”
Alex Bowman was injured during a High Limit Sprint Car Series event at 34 Raceway, a 3/8 mile semi-banked clay track, in West Burlington, Iowa. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson is among the founders of the High Limit Sprint Car Series.
Bowman made contact with Conner Morrell and both flipped multiple times.
Bowman stated on social media: “First, I want to let everyone know I’m feeling ok. My focus is now on healing and resting. Being out of the car is never an update any driver wants to make. I’m thankful to Josh Berry and Hendrick Motorsports for stepping up to the plate and I know the entire Ally Racing team will give it their all these next few weeks.
“I’ll be doing everything I can at home to help the team and ensure my recovery is as quick as possible to get back in the 48 car soon.”
Bowman has a background in sprint and midget car racing on dirt. In an interview with NBC Sports earlier this month, he explained why he races sprint cars and why he’s racing in the High Limit Series.
“For me, it’s like a way to train outside my comfort zone because a big track in a sprint car, I’m super uncomfortable,” he said.
Asked what he meant, he said: “I just, man, trying to figure it out against the (World of) Outlaws and all the best guys and it’s hard. We don’t go to easy races. I didn’t make it easy on myself. I’m the guy that made the schedule and I made it as hard as possible. … I think I underestimated how hard it would be probably.
“But I think that continues to fuel me. I want to get better at it. I want to just be able to go places and be competitive. We’re decent here and there. I feel like we can be competitive at short tracks (in a sprint car) right now. Some of them, I feel we’re a bit hit and miss, but for the most part, when we go to small (tracks for sprint cars) we’re pretty decent.
“The big places, I’d like to figure out and get better at. I just want to be able to go to any sprint car race and be competitive. It would be cool to win a 410 (sprint car) race somewhere.”
Asked about how racing a sprint car helps with racing a Cup car, Bowman noted that it helps with his race craft.
“I think it has its pluses and minuses, honestly,” Bowman told NBC Sports earlier this month. “I think anytime you’re in a race car is good. Obviously, I’m learning a lot. Every night is a learning experience in those cars, like big time.”
Bowman called sprint car racing his “golf game,” noting that it allows him to work on racing but get away from the pressures associated with NASCAR’s premier level.
“The bright spots and the learning process, all of that are really good,” Bowman told NBC Sports.
🚨 @Alex_Bowman and Conner Morrell go for big rides at @34Raceway! Both drivers out of their cars under their own power @HighLimitRacing
— FloRacing (@FloRacing) April 26, 2023

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR has opened an investigation into how a derogatory message was broadcast on the radio channel of Bubba Wallace’s race team during last weekend’s All-Star Race.
Wallace, NASCAR’s only Black driver in the Cup series, had just finished Sunday’s race at North Wilkesboro Speedway when a person not on the 23XI Racing team said over the radio, “Go back to where you came from” and then added another non-racial expletive.
NASCAR spokesman Mike Forde said Wednesday the series immediately had its security and racing electronic teams look into the hack. He said Wallace did not hear the remark.
Forde said NASCAR is trying to determine who cracked Wallace’s radio communications and how it was done, as well the best method toward preventing it from happening in the future.
Forde said the investigation was ongoing and would have happened no matter the nature of the comment.
“We certainly take that seriously, no doubt about that,” he said. “But we can’t have fans interfering with team radio and potential competition implications.”
Wallace’s 23XI Racing team did not immediately return a request for comment.
NASCAR had already said earlier this week there were no plans to penalize Wallace after he appeared to make an obscene gesture on camera before a live interview with Fox Sports.
On May 16, 1992, a revolution of sorts began in NASCAR circles. It would impact every driver, every team, every television executive linked to the sport, much of the fan base and, not incidentally, people who worked in the lighting industry.
On that night – billed by Charlotte Motor Speedway as “One Hot Night” – NASCAR racers competed for the first time on a modern asphalt superspeedway under artificial lighting. It was a landmark moment, a spectacle and a roaring success.
The race was the Winston, then NASCAR’s version of its All-Star Race. Charlotte Motor Speedway had hosted the event for years, but rumors were afoot that other tracks were angling to snare what then was one of the most popular races of the season, and track president Humpy Wheeler, one of the most innovative promoters in racing history, figured he needed a new approach to keep the race.
Why not light the track and run the race at night? That thought ran through Wheeler’s mind. It seemed a bit ridiculous. Races had been held for decades under lights, of course, but those were on short tracks with slower speeds. Light a 1.5-mile track where speeds routinely reached 180 miles per hour? Hamper drivers by putting lights in their fields of vision? Take the risk of a power or light failure throwing the track into darkness in the middle of a high-speed race?
The answer, as it was so often when Wheeler faced an unusual challenge, was YES.
“We had to go to Winston-Salem (North Carolina) every year and present to RJ Reynolds (the Winston’s sponsor) a plan for how we would do things,” Wheeler said. “They didn’t like what we talked about first. Then I said, ‘Let’s run the race on Saturday night under the lights.’ I thought everybody in the room was going to faint. They all thought it would be impossible to light a superspeedway like Charlotte. They said, ‘How will you do it?’ I said, ‘We will do it,’ not having any idea how.
“I called Bill France Jr. (then NASCAR president) and told him about it. Of course, he went ape—-. ‘Why – how are you going to do that? Why do you want to do that?’ he said. I had talked to him so often I could read him like a book. I could tell he didn’t think much of the idea.”
After getting the go-ahead from RJR, Wheeler contacted Musco Lighting, an Iowa-based company that specialized in lighting college and high school athletic fields. A Musco official visited the speedway and came up with ideas that didn’t involve installing big light poles around the track or installing lights that would create vision issues for drivers. The key element was a reflector system that “bounced” light onto the track.
The $1.7 million project involved 1,700 mirrors and 1,200 light fixtures. It was ready by late April, and NASCAR scheduled a night test with Cup cars to see if the system would work adequately.
“There was a little bit of nervousness there because this had never been done before,” Wheeler said. “One of the things we had to do is turn the lights out at some point during practice to see if the auxiliary lighting would work. I asked some of the leading drivers about that, and they looked like, ‘Hey, did I just fall off a turnip truck?’
Kenny Schrader said he’d do it. He was running on the track by himself not knowing when the lights would go out. Then – bang – they went out. All he was supposed to do was bring the car down pit road, but he stayed out three more laps. He said 90% of the short tracks he ran on didn’t have lights that good.”
NASCAR officials and the drivers participating in the test (Earnhardt said, “Hey, let’s go”) said the lighting system worked well, and the first night-time Winston was set.
The crowd that night was massive, and the race produced a classic NASCAR finish. Dale Earnhardt, Kyle Petty and Davey Allison were racing for the lead in the third turn on the last lap. Earnhardt lost control and slid up the track, leaving the decision to Petty and Allison. They raced side-by-side down the frontstretch and crashed near the finish line, with Allison edging Petty for the win. Allison crashed into the wall and was transported to a local hospital for examination. He missed the victory lane celebration.
“It was a heck of a crowd and a great night,” Wheeler said. “It worked out great except for the fact the winner had to go to the hospital.”
Fans lingered in the main grandstand long after the race had ended. The Winston was the talk of the sport for months.
Wheeler’s lights had brightened NASCAR skies.
“I will never forget the first one of those races,” said team owner Richard Childress. “It was Saturday night racing except on a mile-and-a-half track. I told Dale (Earnhardt), ‘Just bring the steering wheel back.’ It was a big moment that gave everybody a whole different view.”
The Charlotte lights opened the door for the Coca-Cola 600, one of the season’s featured races, to move to nighttime. Sunday’s 600 will start after 6 p.m. and finish deep into the evening. That move presented interested drivers with the possibility of driving in the Indianapolis 500 earlier in the day and flying to Charlotte to run in the 600, a doubleheader Cup driver Kyle Larson has scheduled for next year.
If Charlotte could install lighting, it could be done at almost any track, and soon speedway officials were lining up to price lights and doctor with race-day schedules that for decades had included only afternoon racing.
Racing under the lights generally made things cooler for drivers, and television executives drooled at the possibility of primetime racing. The long-held practice of starting most races at around 1 p.m. ET quickly disappeared. Now it would be possible to start races in late afternoon and finish them at night, putting a new spin on competition approaches and giving tracks a bigger window when dealing with bad weather. And juicing television ratings.
“The weather was the key element that got other tracks to do it,” Wheeler said. “It gave everybody a great up on the weather. You could keep running into the night and not have to worry about calling a race because of darkness. For a promoter, that’s a huge thing.”
Now most tracks that host Cup races have lights. The only tracks without permanent lighting are at Dover, Indianapolis, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pocono, Sonoma, Talladega, Circuit of the Americas and Watkins Glen.
Watching the Winston that May 1992 night from a suite high above the track was recent high school graduate Marcus Smith, son of track owner Bruton Smith. It became a life-changing event for Marcus.
“I grew up around NASCAR, but I wasn’t necessarily a huge NASCAR fan,” Smith said. “It was just sort of what we did as a family. But that night is when I really became a fan. The lights came on, and the cars were lighted like never before. The excitement of that last lap was an absolute spectacle and something that grabbed my mind and heart.
“Kyle took the air off Earnhardt’s spoiler and he started to slide. You could hear the whole place kind of gasp. Then Kyle and Davey go for it, and Davey won. Then you wondered if Davey was OK. It was an amazing sequence in such a short period of time.
“That’s when I got the bug, and I never looked back.”
Any ideas that Smith had had about possibly becoming a doctor or a preacher or an automotive executive receded into the background.
Smith now is Speedway Motorsports chairman.
NASCAR teams may employ safety modifications to the their cars starting this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR announced Wednesday.
The modifications are a result of NASCAR’s investigation into the damage to Kyle Larson‘s car after it was hit by Ryan Preece‘s car in last month’s Talladega race. The severe impact moved the right side door bars on Larson’s car.
NASCAR is allowing teams to add six right side door bar gussets to prevent the door bars from buckling in such an impact. NASCAR is providing the gussets to teams at no charge.
NASCAR states that the front clip V-brace must be removed from the assembly.
Teams were provided this information in a May 12 memo from NASCAR. The memo stated that additional chassis updates are under consideration. NASCAR is conducting two days or crash testing Wednesday and Thursday at a facility in Ohio.
Here is a look at where the gussets will be located on the right side door bar:
Alex Bowman will return to the No. 48 Cup car for this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports announced Wednesday.
Bowman suffered a fractured vertebra in an April 25 sprint car crash in Iowa. He missed Cup events at Dover, Kansas, Darlington and the All-Star Race North Wilkesboro.
He drove a Cup car 170 laps Tuesday during a NASCAR-approved medical evaluation test at North Wilkesboro.
NASCAR granted Bowman a waiver to be playoff eligible. He fell from 10th in the standings to 17th after missing the points races at Dover, Kansas and Darlington.
“It’s a boost for all of us to have Alex return to the No. 48 car this weekend at our home track,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, in a statement. “He’s still 17th in points, which says a lot about how well the team performed at the start of the year. Alex has worked hard to rehab the injury and come back strong, and I look for him to continue having a championship-caliber season.”