Alex Bowman has been cleared to return to racing this weekend for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway after missing four events with a fractured vertebra.
Bowman was injured April 25 while competing in a sprint car race in Hendrick Motorsports' teammate Kyle Larson's new racing series in West Burlington, Iowa. He was NASCAR's Cup Series points leader at the time of his injury and has dropped to 17th in the standings while sidelined.
NASCAR has granted Bowman a waiver to participate in the playoffs should he qualify. He is five points out of the 16th and final qualifying position with 13 races remaining in the regular season.
"It's a boost for all of us to have Alex return to the No. 48 car this weekend at our home track," Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, said in a Wednesday statement. "He's still 17th in points, which says a lot about how well the team performed at the start of the year. Alex has worked hard to rehab the injury and come back strong, and I look for him to continue having a championship-caliber season."
Bowman on Tuesday drove a Cup car for 170 laps during a NASCAR-approved medical evaluation test at North Wilkesboro Speedway in western North Carolina.
Josh Berry subbed for Bowman in all three points races Bowman missed, with a best result of 10th at Dover on April 30. He also competed in Sunday's non-points NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro, finishing 15th after winning the All-Star Open.
Berry, 32, drives full-time for Hendrick Motorsports affiliate JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
"Josh is an absolute pro," said Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports. "His talent and hard work allowed the team to continue operating at a high level while Alex recovered. We can't say enough about the great job he did under some challenging circumstances. We're grateful to Josh and our partners at JRM for their support."