NASCAR star Elliott hurts leg in snowboarding accident
NASCAR superstar Chase Elliott had successful surgery for an unspecified injury to his left leg Friday night, hours after a snowboarding accident in Colorado. He will miss this weekend’s NASCAR race at Las Vegas.
Team owner Rick Hendrick told The Associated Press that Elliott was “just out of surgery” and “it went well.” Hendrick gave no additional details about Elliott’s condition or the accident.
Hendrick is NASCAR's winningest car owner and Elliott is NASCAR’s most popular driver.
Josh Berry will drive the No. 9 Chevrolet on Sunday in place of Elliott.
Elliott would need a waiver from NASCAR to be eligible for this year’s playoffs because he’s missing a race. NASCAR has granted waivers to drivers for a variety of medical and non-medical reasons.
“Chase’s health is our primary concern,” Hendrick said ahead of Elliott's surgery. “He’s spoken with several members of our team and is understandably disappointed to miss time in the car. Of course, he has our full support and we’ll provide any resources he needs.”
Elliott is a second-generation driver and the son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott. The Georgia native is NASCAR’s five-time fan-voted most popular driver.
Elliott was runner-up to Kyle Busch last week at Fontana, California. He was part of a crash in the season-opening Daytona 500.
Las Vegas is the third race of the season. Berry is a two-time winner in the Xfinity series at Las Vegas and is the defending Xfinity winner. Berry also will race Saturday for Hendrick affiliate JR Motorsports.
Elliott is a part of NASCAR’s shrinking group of true superstars and was signed to a developmental deal by Hendrick when he was just 14 years old.
He blossomed into a bona fide elite racer and won the Cup title in 2020. The 27-year-old has 18 career Cup victories and has advanced into the championship finale the last three consecutive years.
The injury comes at a time when Hendrick dramatically shifted his stance on extracurricular activities. He was a firm believer in that his drivers could not race in other series or partake in daredevil behavior for fear of injury.
But he did a complete U-turn after signing Kyle Larson for 2021. Larson runs at small tracks all over the country and persuaded Hendrick not to force him to quit.
In fact, Hendrick is even partnering with McLaren and Chevrolet to enter Larson in the Indianapolis 500. The deal has been announced for 2024, but the AP has learned it is a two-year deal that includes the 2025 race.
Hendrick the previous two seasons also entered a car in the IMSA sports car series endurance races and in June is going to the 24 Hours of Le Mans as part of a special project with NASCAR. Elliott was thought to be an early contender for a seat in the historic entry, but NASCAR has a conflicting race weekend and Elliott has always said he wouldn’t miss a Cup race.
Hendrick's new position opened the door for all four of the HMS drivers to start racing other events, and Elliott has taken the offer.
Elliott's snowboarding accident, however, happened during a physical activity, and it isn’t publicly known what he can and can’t do under his Hendrick contract.
Elliott is a licensed pilot and because he’s never left his Dawsonville, Georgia, hometown he often helicopters himself to meetings at Hendrick’s North Carolina race shop.
Once he relaxed his view on extra racing, Hendrick explained that a driver knows very well if they get injured, they will be replaced. This will be his first test.
Hendrick driver Alex Bowman missed five races last year with a concussion suffered in a NASCAR race. He received a contract extension last month.
The 32-year-old Berry normally drives for JRM in the second-tier Xfinity Series. He is a five-time winner for JRM and has two previous Cup starts.
AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports