NASCAR Cup Series driver and current playoff contender Alex Bowman will miss this weekend's racing at Talladega after suffering from what are being called concussion-like symptoms. Bowman will be replaced in the event by full-time Xfinity Series and part-time Cup Series driver Noah Gragson.
Bowman joins Kurt Busch in missing the race due to lingering concussion-like symptoms. Busch, who was injured in a seemingly-innocuous crash during qualifying at Pocono, has not raced since July and continues to recover from his symptoms. If Bowman was concussed in last Sunday's race at Texas, it would have likely occurred during his stage 1 crash caused by a blown tire. Bowman ran the remainder of the race's distance after the crash, finishing just five laps behind the leaders.
Drivers have been voicing their concerns about the safety of the Next Gen car since July of last year. While the series denied specific rumors that the car was struggling in crash testing at the time, new concerns voiced by drivers like Joey Logano after Busch's long recovery have raised worries that the car may still be lagging behind previous generations of stock car in driver safety. The worry is particularly strong this weekend, as the series heads to Talladega Superspeedway for another pack race and, by extent, a much higher chance of field-sweeping wrecks.
By missing the next round of the playoffs, Alex Bowman's championship position is suddenly dire. He already sits 12th in a round where everyone from ninth and back will be eliminated from contention, so missing Talladega will effectively mean that he will need to recover in time to race at the Charlotte roval and win that round if he plans to advance to the next round of the playoffs. His No. 48 team will be able to score points in the separate owner's championship, where he can compete alongside Bubba Wallace in Kurt Busch's No. 45 entry for what would potentially be a split title if either car could win without their driver advancing in the playoffs.
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