Chase Elliott suffered a leg injury in a snowboarding accident on March 3, which forced him to miss the NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. One day later, Hendrick Motorsports set a tentative timeline for his recovery.
Hendrick Motorsports President and GM Jeff Andrews, crew chief Alan Gustafson, and replacement driver Josh Berry met with media members at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before Cup Series practice and qualifying. They spent several minutes addressing the situation while also explaining that the surgery was to repair a fractured tibia and that the procedure took three hours.
“He’s doing well, that surgery was to replace a fractured tibia,” Andrews said. “And that’s really the extent that we know. There is no timeline at this point in time. We would expect this obviously to be several weeks, but beyond that, I don’t have a timeline to offer for you and we’ll obviously work with Chase and his doctors in the future to help determine that.
“For Mr. Hendrick and Hendrick Motorsports, the most important thing is Chase’s health and his well-being. We’ll work with him on that timeline. We are going to race a long time together with Chase Elliott and we are going to win a lot more races together. Certainly, this is a little bit of a setback and Chase is very disappointed. We’ll have a seat ready for him when he is healthy and ready to get back in a race car.”
As another point of clarity, Andrews addressed the Hendrick Motorsports policy surrounding drivers that do other activities outside of the race car. He explained that Elliott is an experienced snowboarder and he indicated that this likely won’t change anything.
“Our stance on it’s just that it was an accident,” Andrews continued. “Our guys have to go out and live their life, obviously. We let these — Alex [Bowman] and Kyle [Larson] both drive sprint cars, Chase has been in a Midget at various times last year, so I don’t anticipate a policy change at Hendrick Motorsports based around this.”
Hendrick Motorsports Shared More Details About Finding a Replacement Driver
Hendrick Motorsports announced on March 3 that Josh Berry would take over the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro for the Las Vegas Motor Speedway race. The team did not provide any further details about whether Berry will make starts in future race weekends.
Andrews did answer questions about the process. He provided a direct answer about how HMS determined that Berry would be a solid option to replace Elliott. As it turns out, it boiled down to an existing relationship with JR Motorsports, as well as some similarities between the two drivers.
“Really the decision was made a lot about Josh’s driving style and, of course, the fit in the car,” Andrews said. “Trying to find someone close to Chase, his size, given the timing and what we had to work with here and getting him fitted into the car last night.”
“The interiors are super intricate and everybody’s got a different body type,” Gustafson added. “So we went through a lot of the processes. Josh’s bucket is the same as Alex’s, different from Chase’s. We went through trying to kind of get those to work out and had some issues with that.
“Yeah, I mean, I can probably sit here for two hours and explain to you all the details that would be really boring for you, but it’s not an easy thing to do. And certainly, I think we got Josh into a safe situation, which is first and foremost, our concern with the interior and secondly, a fairly comfortable situation.”
Another Champion Provided Support
There were many reactions to Elliott suffering the leg injury on March 3. Several people wanted to know how long he would be out of action. Kyle Busch, for comparison, simply reached out to show his support.
The two-time Cup Series champion revealed this after winning the Craftsman Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that he had reached out to Elliott via text to let him know that he could provide information about the recovery process and the professionals that will help with his recovery.
“I — being through injury a couple times — kind of like to hear about how different people go through their rehab, what their processes are,” Busch said. “I talked to [Daniel] Hemric last week, matter of fact, with his knee, and just kind of told him about the stuff that I did because, remarkably, I made it back in 11 weeks, right?
“I don’t think Chase’s injury will be that long,” Busch continued. “My foot is actually what kept me out of the car the longest, not my leg. But I do believe Chase is going to be out for at least a month. No question.”