The safety of the new NASCAR Next Gen cars continues to come under fire after another driver – Alex Bowman – announced this week that he would miss Sunday’s race at Talladega with a concussion. It’s also an issue Denny Hamlin apparently saw coming months ago.
More on that in a bit.
Let’s start with Bowman, who is the second NASCAR driver in three months to miss time with a concussion.
Former Cup champion Kurt Busch has been out since July after a hard crash at Pocono sidelined him for the rest of the regular season.
“After undergoing medical evaluation due to concussion-like symptoms, I will not be driving the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet in Talladega,” Bowman said. “I’m disappointed but know my health is the number one priority.”
Bowman hit the hard Sunday at Texas, but was able to finish the race 29th – five laps down to winner Tyler Reddick.
After the race, Bowman said it was the “hardest I’ve crashed anything in my life.”
Alex Bowman: "I don't understand how this thing is still rolling. That's the hardest I've crashed anything in my entire life."
Kevin Hamlin: "You just hit in the worst spot on these cars, bud."
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) September 25, 2022
NASCAR drivers Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. critical of safety of new car
Bowman was one of several drivers to experience tires issues at Texas, and is just the latest driver to put NASCAR under a microscope for the new Next Gen cars.
Kevin Harvick has been critical of the sport for weeks now after his car mysteriously caught fire in the middle of a race, while Martin Truex Jr. called out NASCAR for ‘bullsh*t’ parts after Texas.
Truex Jr., if you couldn’t tell, was one of those drivers who ended up on a tow-truck with a blown tire.
Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson have also spoken up in recent weeks, with Elliott – NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver – chiming in on Twitter.
With the experience and knowledge gained since 1948 and the technology we have in 2022… we should never take steps backwards in any area with a new design.
— Chase Elliott (@chaseelliott) September 26, 2022
The two most outspoken about the new car have been Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin – two elder statesman in the sport who don’t sugarcoat anything.
Harvick torched the sport last month after nearly getting fried at Darlington.
“I’m sure it’s just crappy parts on the race car like we’ve seen so many times,” he said after the incident. “They haven’t fixed anything. It’s kind of like the safety stuff. We just let it keep going and keep going. The car started burning and as it burned the flames started coming through the dash.”
Denny Hamlin warned NASCAR about new car before season
Hamlin, meanwhile, apparently warned NASCAR Execs before this year that there were major flaws with the new car’s design.
Completely unacceptable that those in charge have let things get to this point. I remember it like it was yesterday @dennyhamlin in the presentation of the new car to the drivers pleading that the car was to stiff. Data didn’t agree. TIME TO LISTEN TO THE DRIVERS CRASHING THEM! https://t.co/Q9urnlbaWa
— Kevin Harvick (@KevinHarvick) September 30, 2022
While Bowman has so far held back, don’t be surprised if more continues to come out – especially if missing Sunday’s race ultimately eliminates him from the postseason.
Bowman is currently in last place in the 12-driver playoff field, 26 points below the cutline, and will likely face a must-win situation next weekend at the Charlotte Roval if he is able to return in time.
According to a NASCAR spokesperson, Hendrick Motorsports’ request for a postseason waiver enabling Bowman to remain eligible for the Round of 8 has been granted.