NASCAR hints at potential playoff waiver for Chase Elliott
LAS VEGAS (BVM) – Surprising news of an injury to driver Chase Elliott halted much of Hendrick Motorsports’ plans for the No. 9 car in 2023. The 2020 Cup Series champion was injured in a snowboarding accident in Colorado and did not compete in the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this past weekend.
Elliott, who had surgery on a fractured bone in his left leg, has not announced a set timeline for his return back to the track. If Elliott were to be able to return, many around the sport have wondered if he would be granted a playoff waiver to gain eligibility.
“We’re still in the very early stages of this, and I can’t emphasize this enough, our focus as an industry is to make sure Chase gets healthy,” NASCAR senior vice president of competition Elton Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We’re looking at the process to date as we gather more information. (When) he’s medically cleared to come back, then I wouldn’t see any reason that he wouldn’t be granted a waiver. But we’ll go through that process and make sure we’re checking all the boxes.”
Drivers are required to start every race to be eligible for the playoffs and Elliott has received backing from many around NASCAR who have supported a future waiver.
“God bless the NASCAR fans,” Kyle Petty said of the situation on the NASCAR on NBC Podcast. “We praise Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson and all these guys that go out and race six nights a week in winged sprint cars and go-karts and midgets and whatever they want to race, but God forbid you can’t go snowboarding and get hurt. You just can’t do that, people. I don’t know where you all have been, but you just can’t do that.
“I look at it as, yes, he should get a waiver. … The point is, I don’t care how you are hurt or what happens, that’s what the medical waiver is for. The medical waiver is for an injury, an illness, a death in the family, whatever it may be. That’s what it’s for.”
In the past, Tony Stewart was subject to a waiver after missing the opening eight races of the 2016 season following a burst fracture of the L1 vertebra in an all-terrain accident. With similar off-track situations, Elliott remains in a solid position to receive NASCAR’s help.
“Very similar situation to Tony Stewart a few years back,” Sawyer said. “Tony was injured… in the preseason, and the waiver wasn’t granted until, I believe, April, and then he was cleared to come back racing at Richmond that year. So, we’ll go through the due diligence. We’ll work closely with our folks as well as the folks at Hendrick Motorsports to, again, get Chase back as quick as possible.”
With Elliott out this past weekend, driver Josh Berry manned the No. 9 Chevrolet at the Pennzoil 400, finishing 29th. The team has yet to announce a driver for the upcoming race at Phoenix to go along with its future plans.