NASCAR: Chase Elliott out approximately 6 weeks after fracturing left tibia
Elliott will be replaced by Josh Berry at oval tracks while he's out of the car
Chase Elliott is expected to miss approximately six races as he recovers from the fractured tibia he suffered while snowboarding Friday.
Hendrick Motorsports announced Tuesday that Elliott would be out of his No. 9 Cup Series car for an estimated six weeks after he underwent surgery for the left leg fracture. Elliott was injured while snowboarding in Colorado ahead of Sunday’s race at Las Vegas.
Elliott was replaced at Vegas by Xfinity Series driver Josh Berry and Berry will continue to be Elliott’s primary substitute driver. The team said Tuesday that Berry would drive all oval races Elliott misses while IMSA driver Jordan Taylor would pilot Elliott’s car at the Circuit of the Americas on March 26.
“We’re focused on getting Chase back to 100%, so we’ll take however much time is necessary and make sure he has the best resources available,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said in a statement. “Josh was impressive this weekend under difficult circumstances, and we look forward to having him drive the oval tracks until Chase is able to return. Jordan is a world-class road racer and has recently been working with our Garage 56 team preparing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He’ll be able to step in and do a great job at COTA.”
Berry, 32, had never driven this type of Cup Series car until he stepped into Elliott’s car on Saturday. He finished 29th at Las Vegas. If Elliott is out exactly six weeks from the date of his injury, Berry will drive at Phoenix, Atlanta, Richmond and Bristol. The April 16 race at Martinsville would be just past the six-week mark from Elliott’s surgery and the April 23 race is at Talladega.
Elliott, the 2020 Cup Series champion and NASCAR’s most popular driver, had not missed a Cup Series start since he started driving full-time in 2016 at the age of 20.
Elliott will likely be able to get a waiver to qualify for the NASCAR Cup Series playoff eligibility once he returns to the car. NASCAR rules stipulate a driver has to attempt to qualify for every race to be eligible for the playoffs, but the sanctioning body reserves the right to grant a driver a waiver if he misses races due to an injury.
If and when Elliott gets that waiver, he’ll need to win a regular season race to get into the playoffs and doesn’t have to worry about being in the top 30 in points at the end of the regular season. NASCAR got rid of the top-30 rule ahead of the 2023 season.