Bowman out at least 3 NASCAR races with fractured vertebra

Alex Bowman (48) leaves pit lane during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Richmond Raceway on Sunday, April 2, 2023, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Mike Caudill)
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Alex Bowman suffered a fractured vertebra in a sprint car crash and Hendrick Motorsports said Wednesday the NASCAR star will miss at least the next three Cup races.

Bowman will be replaced by Josh Berry, who filled in for Chase Elliott for five races as Elliott recovered from a broken leg. Berry will be in the No. 48 Chevrolet starting this weekend at Dover International Speedway in Delaware.

Bowman suffered a compression fracture in an accident Tuesday evening — which was his 30th birthday — while competing in a sprint car event at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa. The event was part of a racing series created by his Hendrick teammate Kyle Larson.

“First, I want to let everyone know I'm feeling ok. My focus is now on healing and resting,” Bowman wrote on social media. “Being out of the car is never an update any driver wants to make.”

Bowman was treated in Iowa on Tuesday evening and evaluated again Wednesday in Charlotte. He missed five races last season with a concussion.

“We’re relieved Alex is home, in good spirits and getting world-class treatment,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “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."

Hendrick Motorsports will request a medical waiver to allow Bowman to remain eligible for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Bowman has six top-10 finishes through 10 races this season. He was a season-best third at Las Vegas and on the road course at Circuit of the Americas.

Berry drives for Hendrick-affiliated JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series and has five career wins at NASCAR's second level. He had a career-best finish of second in the Cup Series while filling in for Elliott at Richmond earlier this month.

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AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports