Former NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott is expected to miss several weeks of competition after undergoing successful surgery for a fractured leg Friday night.
Elliott injured his left leg in a snowboarding accident in Colorado Friday and underwent a three-hour surgery Friday evening. Hendrick Motorsports President Jeff Andrews said Saturday morning that Elliott is recovering well and that he is expected to be released from the hospital Saturday.
Xfinity Series driver Josh Berry will fill in for Elliott in Sunday’s Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and is expected to continue to substitute for Elliott while he is recovering.
“I expect it (Elliott’s absence) to be several weeks, but beyond that I don’t have a timeline,” Andrews said. “I can’t reiterate enough for Mr. (Rick) Hendrick and Hendrick Motorsports that the most important thing is Chase’s health and well being. We’re going to race a long time together and win a lot of races. We’ll have a seat ready for him when he’s healthy and ready to get back in a race car.”
Andrews said Hendrick Motorsports has applied to NASCAR for a waiver that would allow Elliott to participate in the Cup Series playoffs if he qualifies.
MORE: Las Vegas Cup race: Start time, weather, TV info
Sunday’s race will mark the third Cup start for Berry. He ran two races for Spire Motorsports in 2021. A regular in the Xfinity Series, Berry drives for JR Motorsports. He scored three Xfinity wins in 2022 and finished fourth in series points. He has won twice at LVMS.
Berry, who hasn’t driven a Next Gen Cup car, said his success at Las Vegas should speed his process of adapting.
“A lot happened really fast,” Berry said. “The fact that I’ve won here twice in Xfinity definitely makes it a lot easier. I’ll be learning a new car in an hour or so (in practice). Success at the track definitely gives me more confidence in what I’m doing.”
Berry, who finished fifth in Saturday’s Xfinity race at LVMS, said he appreciates the opportunity to race a Cup car but regrets the circumstances.
“This is Chase’s ride and his opportunity,” Berry said. “I’m just thankful that Mr. H and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports thought of me to fill in for him at this moment. Without a doubt, it’s a great challenge for me, but a great opportunity to grow and learn as a driver and work around a lot of smart people. I’ll take it one lap at a time, one day at a time.
“It’s been a wild couple of days. You never know what will happen when you wake up.”
Kyle Busch said Saturday he had reached out to Elliott to offer advice and assistance. Busch missed races after suffering a broken leg near the start of the 2015 season and went on to win the championship. He said he expects Elliott to be out at least a month.
Alex Bowman, Elliott’s teammate, missed several races last season. “It’s a really uncomfortable situation,” he said. “You almost feel like forgotten because obviously everything keeps going, except for you. That’s kind of what it was like for me. I watched every race with the exception of one. I went to an NFL game. Just something my doctor wanted me to do. Other than that, I watched every week. And yeah, it’s not fun.”
Andrews said he didn’t anticipate a Hendrick Motorsports policy change regarding non-racing activities drivers are allowed to participate in. “These guys have to go out and live a life outside of the race track,” he said. “Certainly, what Chase was doing wasn’t anything abnormal for him. He’s an experienced snowboarder, been doing it most of his life. It was an accident.”