One of the hot-button topics throughout the weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway pertained to NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver Chase Elliott, who sustained a fracture to his left tibia in a snowboarding accident in Colorado on Friday.
Elliott, who competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series for Hendrick Motorsports, was replaced by Josh Berry for last weekend’s event at Las Vegas. The organization has yet to announce a replacement driver for Phoenix and beyond.
However, one of the bigger questions surrounding Elliott’s current situation, is whether or not he will be receiving a post-season waiver – which would allow him to miss races while maintaining his championship eligibility.
On Tuesday, Elton Sawyer, Senior Vice President of Competition for NASCAR, talked to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about the situation at hand, and how the sanctioning body is planning to proceed.
“We’re still in the very early stages of this – and I can’t emphasize this enough, where our focus as an industry is to make sure that Chase [Elliott] is healthy, and that he’s ready to come back,” said Sawyer. “Once he’s medically cleared, then we will start the – we’re looking at the process today, but as we gather more information, he’s medically cleared to come back, then I wouldn’t see any reason that he wouldn’t be granted the waiver, but we’ll go through that process and make sure we’re checking all the boxes.”
Jeff Andrews, President and General Manager of Hendrick Motorsports, said in a press conference on Saturday that there was no explicit timeline on when Elliott would be cleared to return to competition in the NASCAR Cup Series.
However, as mentioned by Sawyer, this isn’t exactly a new situation for NASCAR, which has had to grant playoff waivers to drivers in the past, both for injuries sustained on-track and off-track.
“This isn’t unchartered waters for us as a sanctioning body, a very similar situation to Tony Stewart a few years back. If our fans remember, Tony was injured in a sprint car race in the pre-season, the waiver wasn’t granted until April, and then he was cleared to come back racing at Richmond that year,” Sawyer continued. “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 quickly as possible.”
In recent years, NASCAR has operated its distribution of post-season waivers on a case-by-case basis. Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, and Austin Dillon are just some of the drivers who have received waivers due to various injuries or ailments.
From time to time, drivers in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series are granted waivers if they’re ineligible to compete in certain events to start the year, as a result of being under 18. Jake Garcia and Taylor Gray were both given waivers this season for that very reason.
“Whether it’s on the race track in a particular call that we made, or off the race track in this particular case, we’ll gather all the information and we will sit down to make the right decision moving forward.”
👋🏼 "I wouldn't see any reason that he wouldn't be granted the waiver."
🗣️ #NASCAR SVP of Competition Elton Sawyer told #TMDNASCAR dealing with @chaseelliott's injury situation is nothing new for the sanctioning body and they handle waivers on a case-by-case basis. pic.twitter.com/CyAY1fz9ms
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) March 7, 2023