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Rick Hendrick: "We don't want (the drivers) hurt"

NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick said he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make safety improvements to the Next Gen car as soon as possible.

Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Valvoline and Rick Hendrick

Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Valvoline and Rick Hendrick

Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images

One of Hendrick’s NASCAR Cup Series drivers, Alex Bowman, became the second series driver this season to miss a race after suffering concussion-like symptoms following a rear-impact accident last weekend at Texas.

Kurt Busch has remained sidelined since a similar wreck in July during qualifying at Pocono Raceway.

Asked if as an owner he would be comfortable having to spend more for safety changes to the car, Hendrick said, “Absolutely. I mean, for sure. Our drivers are so important, we don’t want them hurt.

“So, if it meant buying all new (rear) clips Monday morning, I’d do it. I’d be happy to do it. We want them safe. Be it like Alex, Kurt Busch, that’s hard. So I’m all for whatever it takes.

“I think the teams could fix it. If NASCAR wants to do it, I think everybody working together, we could do it in a hurry, test it, have it on the cars ASAP.”

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Hendrick said he didn’t have any idea of Bowman’s possible concussion issue until after the driver visited doctors on Thursday.

“After the race, he said he didn’t feel good. Then Monday morning he didn’t feel well. They started working with him Tuesday,” Hendrick said. “Wednesday was good. He felt much better. Then Thursday he backed up, he didn’t feel good, so he went to see the doctor.

“I think hopefully he’ll be back next week. I think he will. He’s feeling good today and did yesterday. I guess he’ll go back and get evaluated here mid-week.”

'It's not about the playoffs'

Bowman was already the lowest driver in points remaining in the playoffs coming into this weekend and he added zero points by not competing Sunday at Talladega.

However, NASCAR has granted Bowman a waiver for missing the race and should he return and win next weekend at the Charlotte Roval he could still automatically advance to the semifinal round of the playoffs.

“These guys are stars. You spend a lot of money, like, bringing them along over the years. Then to have them hurt, you have sponsors and everything involved, they’re in the playoffs, they get knocked out of the playoffs,” Hendrick said.

“It’s not about the playoffs, it's about safety, having a guy that wants to be able to race again. We have done really well in the last 10, 15 years with safety in so many ways: the seats, the headrest, everything.

“This car, from the rear impact, it’s just like you’re sitting on a piece of steel. … We need to fix it as soon as we can.”

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