Photo: Luis Torres/Motorsports Tribune

Bowman Details Return to Cockpit After Concussion Recovery

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Since sustaining a concussion at Texas in late September, Alex Bowman has been on the sidelines, but make his return for his home race Sunday at Phoenix Raceway.

The Tuscon, Arizona native detailed the struggles he went through from the week following the crash to the announcement of his return a week ago. Bowman explained that while he felt fine up until mid-week following the Texas crash, his condition quickly went downhill, leading him to seek concussion treatment.

“Wednesday night, I realized that something was definitely wrong which was weird because Tuesday I felt completely fine,” Bowman said. “And again, that’s part of concussions. I think everybody gets their symptoms differently and kind of later onset symptoms are, I guess, way more normal than I would’ve thought. When I told the doctors what I was going through, they weren’t surprised by any means that I felt totally fine on Tuesday.

“By Thursday morning we were pretty clear that I wasn’t gonna drive the race car that weekend. I think they were working on plans well before I saw the doctors. While unfortunate, that’s part of what we go through.

He continued, noting that he wouldn’t want to see any other driver have to go through what he went through and expressed gratitude that he was able to recover in time to make it back to the cockpit this season.

“Those couple of weeks where the headaches and the eye pain and everything was bad. It was not fun,” Bowman said. “You know, I tried to keep myself busy and just kind of go through my days, but then you had to watch somebody else drive your race car and kind of going through all that, it just wasn’t much fun. You know, some days I felt okay and other days I felt really, really bad.

 That’s just part of concussions. It kind of comes and goes. As that got better, I was really thankful that it was getting better. That’s just part of driving race cars, you know, it’s not it’s not my first concussion by any means. And that’s life when you drive race cars.

Bowman added that during his recovery, there were times that he felt he was good to go and would be able to make a return to driving duties before Sunday, but his symptoms would creep back in and halt any progress he had made in a positive direction.

“There were days that I felt fine and that was probably two weeks in,” Bowman said. “I started to have days where the entire day I’d feel totally fine and I’d get some confidence and the next day I’d feel okay and I’d get some confidence and then I’d have a day that wiped me out. It was super frustrating to have those good days and then all of a sudden kind of get hit with a bad day.

“So appreciative that I’ve had probably two weeks of solid feeling really good. Because it was frustrating when you have a couple good days and then all of a sudden you feel bad again. It’s like you build some confidence and then get kind of get knocked back down a little bit.”

With others in the Cup Series having dealt with concussions in recent memory, including Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Bowman noted that he was able to lean on those guys and others in being able to work through the recovery process.

“Kurt and Dale and honestly the whole Cup garage was really supportive,” Bowman said. “You know, Kevin Harvick reached out quite a bit and a bunch of guys reached out. So, just appreciate all their support. It means a lot.

“I’m a quiet guy, I keep to myself, so to have all those guys reaching out was really cool and I definitely appreciate it.”

For Bowman, it was important for him to try and make it back to the No. 48 team this weekend, with it not only being his home state race, but also being the final race for crew chief Greg Ives, who will be moving on from his crew chief role at season’s end.

Since joining forces full-time in 2018, the two won seven races together, most recently at Las Vegas earlier this season.

“I feel like everybody’s had really high expectations on us every time we’ve come here since that race in 16 that we were really dominant at and we’ve struggled,” Bowman said of returning at Phoenix. “We’ve had good race cars and just races fall apart for whatever reason. And then we’ve had days that we were just awful and struggled. So, hopefully we can just execute a good solid day.

“You know, we had a good day in the spring before the last pit stop. We went out, we came in eighth or ninth and went out last. So that made things difficult and, and we didn’t end up with the finish we deserved.

“If we can get out of here with a solid top 10 and just kind of enjoy this last week with Greg, it’d be really good.”

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.