NASCAR: Chase Elliott’s unofficial return window opens

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports /

Chase Elliott was ruled out for at least six NASCAR Cup Series races, and he has now missed six races. But his return has not yet been confirmed.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott hasn’t competed in a NASCAR Cup Series race since the 2023 season’s second race at Auto Club Speedway in late February, as he was injured less than a week later in a Colorado snowboarding accident before the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Elliott was almost immediately ruled out for that race, and he later underwent a three-hour surgery for a broken left tibia. It was said that he was expected to miss “several weeks”, and Hendrick Motorsports later gave an estimate that he would be sidelined for six races.

This past Sunday night’s dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway marked Elliott’s sixth straight absence, with Josh Berry again filling in for him behind the wheel of the No. 9 Chevrolet.

As a result, Chase Elliott’s unofficial NASCAR Cup Series “return window” has opened up.

While there is a sense that the 28-year-old Dawsonville, Georgia native, whose team has already applied for him to receive a playoff waiver, will return as soon as he is medically cleared to do so, the fact that this Sunday’s race is at Martinsville Speedway, a brake-heavy track, makes it a bigger question mark, since it is the left pedal which drivers use to brake.

Additionally, the six-week estimate was put out by Rick Hendrick’s team after Elliott had already missed a race, so he has only missed five since.

There has also been no official update on Elliott’s condition, and new reports on his road to recovery have been few and far between. Plus, everybody heals differently, so there is no guarantee that he will return this week anyway.

The following Sunday’s race is set to take place at Talladega Superspeedway, which is the total opposite of Martinsville Speedway when it comes to braking.

Interestingly, after suffering a less severe leg injury in a crash at Texas Motor Speedway last year, Cody Ware competed in the following weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, but he ended up sitting out the next event after that since it was contested at the brake-heavy Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval course.

It does appear that Elliott’s return isn’t too far away, however, which is good news for fans of the sport’s Most Popular Driver.

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Fox Sports 1 is set to broadcast Sunday afternoon’s NOCO 400 live from Martinsville Speedway beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, April 16. If you have not yet started a free trial of FuboTV, now would be an opportune time to do so!