Alex Bowman set to return to No. 48 Chevrolet for Phoenix finale

Alex Bowman will return to the No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports at Phoenix Raceway, the team announced Friday morning.

Bowman, a seven-time Cup Series winner, has been sidelined since suffering a concussion at Texas Motor Speedway on Sept. 25, missing each of the last four races. Bowman will miss Sunday’s Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway (2 p.m. ET, NBC, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) as Noah Gragson continues to fill in.

MORE: Martinsville schedule | Cup Series standings

Bowman was cleared to return following a full evaluation by Dr. Michael “Micky” Collins, clinical director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program, the team said in a release.

“We’re thrilled Alex is 100% and will have the opportunity to race at his home track,” Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports, said in a statement. “Throughout this process, he’s been incredibly diligent about following the advice of his doctors and prioritizing his health. All of us look forward to welcoming Alex back and seeing him finish 2022 with his No. 48 teammates.”

Bowman was a contender in this year’s NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs courtesy of his March win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. His crash in the Round of 12 opener saddled him on the proverbial bench and ultimately led to his elimination from championship contention.

Crew chief Greg Ives previously announced he will step away from his role at the end of the 2022 season but will continue to work for Hendrick Motorsports. Ives and Bowman will have a proper farewell to their tenure together, which dates back to 2016 when Bowman substituted for Earnhardt Jr. Their most impressive run that year came when Bowman won the pole at Phoenix and led 194 laps en route to a sixth-place finish.

“Greg and I started something there in 2016 that we never got to finish,” Bowman, an Arizona native, said in a video posted to his social media accounts. “Hopefully we can get the job done. To have one final race with Greg is going to be really special.”

Bowman voiced his gratitude for the patience shown by both his team and sponsors as he put his health at the forefront of his concerns, effectively placing his safety ahead of his championship hopes this season.

“It’s been a long road and a lot of work,” Bowman said. “But excited to be back to 100% and be able to get back in a race car. … We’re going to finish the season strong and hopefully get one last win for Greg.”