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NASCAR Cup Series Star Chase Elliott Coming Back From Broken Leg, Will Race Martinsville
The Hendrick Motorsports wheelman is gearing up to drive after missing six races due to a broken leg sustained in a snowboarding accident.
Though he broke his leg in a snowboarding accident in Colorado a little over a month ago, NASCAR’s favorite son Chase Elliott is rising like a phoenix from its smoldering ashes in time to compete in the NOCO 400 at Martinsville Speedway this Sunday.
How did Chase Elliott recover from his injury?
Elliott’s March 3 snowboarding accident in Colorado required an exhaustive three-hour surgery to repair his broken left tibia. After successfully completing the procedure, Elliott spent most of March recuperating and participating in physical rehabilitation in Colorado before returning to his home in Georgia. Once doctors medically cleared him to race, Elliott still had another test to clear on his journey to jumping back in the saddle. The 27-year-old Elliott spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday this week behind the wheel of a Chevrolet racing simulator. While it’s clearly not the same as piloting the real thing, success in the simulator is a good litmus test to assessing a driver’s ability to compete, and Elliott, along with most likely input from his team at Hendrick Motorsports, determined he’s ready to roll
How has Chase Elliott’s injury affected his 2023 Cup Series season?
Though he’s medically cleared with a waiver from NASCAR that allows him to retain eligibility for the playoffs, Elliott faces a Herculean set of obstacles ahead of him if he wants to have a shot at the Cup. As it currently stands, he sits 134 points behind the playoff cutoff with 18 races left in the regular season. Still, ultimate salvation for Elliott is not completely out of reach. Instead of advancing into the playoffs based off of his total accumulated points, he’ll automatically cruise into the postseason if he wins one of the remaining races.
Easy enough, right? Well, considering Cup Series victories don’t exactly grow on trees, most ordinary drivers bump, claw and spin their way into a win. Some spend their entire careers lusting for wins only to be disappointed with a lack of productivity. Good thing Elliott’s no ordinary driver. Still three years shy of 30, the 2020 champ Elliott has already notched 18 Cup Series victories with a series-high five last season. While a shot in the dark doesn’t mean much to the rest of us mortals, that’s all he needs.
What has Hendrick Motorsports said about Chase Elliott’s return to Cup Series competition?
As one can imagine, Elliott’s team at Hendrick Motorsports is beyond ecstatic to get its golden boy back behind the wheel as evident in the company’s news release.
"We're looking forward to having Chase back in his race car to pick up where he left off," declared team owner Rick Hendrick. "Since the injury, he's worked extremely hard and focused all his time and energy on returning to the No. 9 team. Throughout the last six weeks, he's stayed fully engaged with everything we're doing, and we know he's chomping at the bit to get on the racetrack and compete for wins."
Who has been racing in the No. 9 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports while Chase Elliott has been out?
Road-racing star Jordan Taylor competed in the Circuit of the Americas course, but NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Josh Berry, who competes for Hendrick Motorsports’ affiliate JR Motorsports, has mainly been the one holding down the fort for the No. 9 team. Berry’s been a steady asset every step of the way during the 2023 Cup Series season while Elliott’s been out, and with his inspiring runner-up finish in Richmond, the Tennessee native proved to all of Race World USA that he’s got the goods to make it in NASCAR’s most elite level. His tenacious driving style and success at the Virginia event even caught the attention of one of NASCAR’s most revered legends.
Immediately following watching Berry eclipse all expectations and cruise into a second-place finish during the Toyota Owners 400, four-time Cup Series champion and Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman Jeff Gordon said understatedly, “I think he’s got a future in the Cup Series.” If the Rainbow Warrior says it, then you know it must be true!
While Elliott’s injury wasn’t cataclysmic, for a driver of his caliber in NASCAR’s top flight, that left leg – one that he typically engages to control the brake – is pretty damn important. Combine the mental stress with the physical fatigue endured over 400 laps on Martinsville’s circuit-shortest 0.526-mile flat oval, and you’ve got one potentially disastrous duo for a driver who’s been compromised for weeks with a devastating injury. Unlike an arising problem with his No. 9 Chevy Camaro, if something gives on the human side, there’s no pit crew in the world who can quickly remedy that equation with a ratchet and a couple bolts. Flesh and steel just aren’t the same.