NASCAR makes decision on Chase Elliott playoff waiver

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

NASCAR has made the long-awaited decision on a playoff waiver for Chase Elliott, who has missed the last six races with a broken leg.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott has been sidelined from NASCAR Cup Series competition since fracturing his left tibia in a Colorado snowboarding crash back in early March, just before the race weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Elliott has made just two starts in the 2023 season, first in the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway and next at Auto Club Speedway, where he finished in second place.

After the 2020 series champion underwent a three-hour surgery, it was revealed that he was expected to miss six weeks of Cup Series action, and also that Hendrick Motorsports had applied for him to be given a playoff waiver.

JR Motorsports Xfinity Series driver Josh Berry has filled in for Elliott behind the wheel of the No. 9 Chevrolet in the oval races he missed, and three-time IMSA SportsCar Championship champion Jordan Taylor filled in for him in the road course race at Circuit of the Americas.

Now Elliott is set to return for this Sunday afternoon’s race at Martinsville Speedway after missing a total of six races.

And it has also been confirmed that NASCAR has indeed granted Chase Elliott a playoff waiver.

The decision does not come as a surprise, considering NASCAR’s history when it comes to granting waivers to drivers who are unexpectedly sidelined from a race or races.

Though Elliott’s injury was not NASCAR-related, the fact that the official term is “medical waiver” made it a relatively clear-cut decision not to make him ineligible for the playoffs because of his injury. Drivers have been issued the same waiver in the past for health issues not related to on-track competition.

A waiver by no means locks a driver into the postseason. It simply keeps a driver eligible, despite not running all 26 races on the regular season schedule. A driver still needs to qualify for one of the 16 playoffs spots, either on points or by winning a race (or both, if there are more than 16 winners during the regular season), to get into the playoffs.

Elliott has qualified for the playoffs in all seven of his seasons as a full-time driver. He is the only driver to have advanced to the round of 8 in each of the last six years, and he is the only driver to have advanced to the Championship 4 in each of the last three.

The five-time Most Popular Driver Award winner has plenty of work to do to get back to that point, given the fact that he sits in 34th place in the point standings after competing in just two of the season’s first eight races. He sits 134 points below the current playoff cut line with 18 races remaining on the regular season schedule.

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Tune in to Fox Sports 1 at 3:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, April 16 for the live broadcast of the NOCO 400 from Martinsville Speedway to watch Chase Elliott make his long-awaited return to the NASCAR Cup Series. If you haven’t already done so, begin a free trial of FuboTV now!