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Chase Elliott’s NASCAR Cup Series On Hold After Breaking Leg In Snowboarding Accident
Chase Elliott, NASCAR’s perennial fan favorite, broke his tibia while snowboarding in Colorado and is expected to miss several weeks.
Chase Elliott broke his leg in a snowboarding accident out in Colorado, and now that he’s undergone a successful, three-hour surgery to repair his fractured tibia, the NASCAR 2020 Cup Series champion is expected to miss several, crucial weeks of competition, Hendrick Motorsports has revealed.
In his stead, Xfinity Series driver Josh Berry filled in for Elliott at the Pennzoil 400 in Las Vegas over the weekend, placing 29th. The emergency substitution officially ended Elliot’s streak of 254 consecutive starts, and Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports expects it will be a while before NASCAR fans will see Elliott behind the wheel of his No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro.
“At this point in time, we would expect this obviously to be several weeks,” Andrews stated, according to NASCAR.com. “But beyond that, I don’t have a timeline to offer for you. We will obviously work with Chase and his doctors in the future to help determine that. But again, I just can’t reiterate enough that for Mr. Hendrick and Hendrick Motorsports, the most important thing is Chase’s health and his well-being. We will work with him on that timeline.”
Once he’s regained mobility after the surgery, Elliott will have to undergo physical therapy and then be reevaluated before being cleared to race. Despite the lack of a firm timeline for Elliott’s return, Andrews made it clear that Hendrick Motorsports will be behind him every step of the way.
“We’re going to race a long time together with Chase Elliott, and we’re going to win a lot more races together,” continued Andrews. “It’s certainly a little bit of a setback, and obviously, Chase is very disappointed, but again, I want to reiterate that the most important thing is Chase’s health. We’ll have his seat ready for him when he’s healthy and ready to get back into a race car.”
As one of the most beloved and talented Cup Series racers, Elliott, an 18-time winner in NASCAR’s top flight, took to Twitter Sunday to show his appreciation for all of the support he’s received from fans around the globe.
“In all seriousness, the support I’ve received over the last couple of days is far greater than I deserve,” wrote Elliott. “I want to thank everyone who has lended it over in any form!”
The 27-year-old’s potentially season-altering injury highlights the delicate balance athletes and performers have when weighing their personal interests against professional obligations. While Elliott’s injury is unconventional to say the least, Andrews revealed that Hendrick Motorsports would not alter its policies to restrict racers and other personnel from engaging in recreational activities outside of NASCAR.
“These guys have to go out and live a life outside of the race track, and certainly, what Chase was doing was not anything abnormal for him,” noted Andrews. “He’s an experienced snowboarder. He’s been doing it most of his life, and it was an accident. A similar injury could happen falling off a mountain bike or stepping off a curb while you’re jogging. It was an accident, and Chase feels awful about it, but our stance is just that – it was an accident, and our guys have to go out and live their lives.”
As both a competitor and owner, veteran wheelman Kevin Harvick understands the predicament of wanting to enjoy one’s life outside of racing, but he also urges others to be responsible.
“You know I like to live my life,” Harvick said, according to NASCAR.com. “I like to ski. I like to go do things. I’ve had just as bad injuries walking around my kitchen, falling over my cat or whatever, playing with my kids or whatever it is. Stuff’s gonna happen, but you know this deal, there’s way too much time spent at the race track to not be able to live the rest of your life and to have to live in a bubble is impossible.”
“So, you’ve got to go do the things that you like to do. Just, we would ask that, and I try to do things in a cautious manner and try to think about the consequences of what I’m doing, and whether it’s conditions or slopes or taking somebody with me or whatever the case may be, you just try to be smart about it. So, I don’t know all the circumstances of Chase’s situation, but we just ask our guys and myself included is to just be smart, just think about what you’re doing.”
Elliott’s close friend and Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney revealed that he’s joined Elliott on past snowboarding trips, but he didn’t on this one.
“Chase is a very experienced snowboarder,” Blaney told NASCAR.com. “They lived out there for a long time, he’s been out there most of his life. You can be doing anything you’re really good at, and you can have an accident. So, yeah, it’s not like he was doing something he was inexperienced at. It was something he was very comfortable with, and, just, something happened.”
Though he’ll be adjusting and adapting to working with the 32-year-old Berry, Elliott’s crew chief Alan Gustafson reiterated that the goals for the season, despite the extreme curve ball, remain intact.
“Certainly, things have changed, but we want to compete and compete at a high level,” Gustafson explained, according to NASCAR.com. “Right now, my focus is really making the transition as easy for Josh as possible, trying to help him get acclimated to the car, feel comfortable and get to a position that he can use his talents and abilities to be successful.”
“I think moving forward past that, it’s still the same goal – to be as good as we possibly can when Chase [Elliott] gets back and win as many races as possible,” added Gustafson. “We’re certainly still in the owner’s points, and depending on how the waivers and all the rest of it goes, certainly, if Chase can come back, and we can compete at a high level and win, we can be where we want to be with the driver side, too.”
“There’s certainly a lot of changes that comes with this, but I think we all can learn and grow. Find ways to improve and be ready to go when the playoffs come around.”