Arizona native Alex Bowman returns for season finale

AVONDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 04: Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on November 04, 2022 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman is back behind the wheel of the No. 48 Chevrolet this week after missing five NASCAR Cup Series races while recovering from concussion-type symptoms.

Bowman, a native of nearby Tucson, Arizona was adamant that he wanted to return to competition this year rather than wait until the start of the 2023 season. He was injured in an accident during the Texas Motor Speedway race on Sept. 25 – and following doctors’ orders, sat out the next five races.

Bowman had been ranked 10th heading into Texas – qualifying for the Playoffs with a victory at Las Vegas in March. Noah Gragson filled in for Bowman with a best showing of 11th at Las Vegas in October.

“There’s a lot of really smart people at HMS that evaluated everything and tried to make everything the best it can be,” said Bowman, who qualified 24th for Sunday’s race.

“I think having a goal to come back this year kept me working really hard and really accountable for what I was doing. I think if we would had said, ‘We’re going to take the rest of the year off,’ it would have been way easier to just sit back on my butt and not work as hard.”

And while Sunday represents a true “homecoming” of sorts – both in his native Arizona and in the car – it is a farewell to his crew chief Greg Ives, who will step away from the demanding travel schedule at the end of the season and instead work for Hendrick Motorsports based out of the shop.

“Obviously, a lot of motivation to come back with Greg,” Bowman said. “Definitely a lot of different emotions. We’re obviously caught up trying to run the best we can. Just trying to enjoy it. I’m really happy for him and the next step in his career. Just happy to be back with him (this weekend).”