By David Morgan, Associate Editor
Less than 24 hours ago, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Chase Elliott would be out of the car for the weekend at Las Vegas after suffering a leg injury while snowboarding in Colorado.
On Saturday morning, the team provided an update on the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion and the path forward for the No. 9 team while he recovers.
Hendrick Motorsports president and general manager Jeff Andrews explained that Elliott had suffered a fractured tibia in the accident and successfully underwent a nearly three-hour surgery on Friday night.
“There is no timeline,” Andrews said of when Elliott might be able to return to the cockpit. “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. 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 wellbeing. We will work with him on that timeline.
“We’re going to race a long time together with Chase Elliott and we’re going to win a lot more races together. 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.”
In his absence, Xfinity Series regular Josh Berry will pilot Elliott’s car this weekend at Las Vegas and possibly future races while Elliott’s recovery continues. Berry has won in two of his last three starts at the 1.5-mile track while driving for JR Motorsports, but Sunday will mark his first outing in a Next Gen car in the Cup Series.
“First and foremost, obviously we’re thinking about Chase (Elliott),” Berry said. “This is his ride and his opportunity. I’m just thankful that these guys – Mr. Hendrick and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports – thought of me to come fill-in for him in this moment.
“Without a doubt, it’s going to be a great challenge for me. But a great challenge comes great opportunity for me to learn and grow as a driver, and work around a lot of really great, talented and smart people here at Hendrick Motorsports.
Berry will have a busy day on Saturday with Cup Series practice and qualifying to try and get the No. 9 car dialed in before climbing in his Xfinity ride for the Alsco Uniforms 300 at 4:30 pm ET. Then it’s back into Cup Series mode for Sunday’s Pennzoil 400, which is scheduled for 3:30 pm ET on FOX.
“We’re just taking it one lap at a time, one day at a time,” Berry added. “We don’t really have any expectations at this point. We’re going to try and get through this practice and qualifying session. I’m going to race my Xfinity car, and then we’ll meet some more, talk about it and make a plan for tomorrow. But it’s definitely a great honor to drive for Hendrick Motorsports, regardless of the situation, so I’m going to try and do the best I can for these guys.”
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