NASCAR: Why isn’t Josh Berry replacing Chase Elliott?

Josh Berry, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
Josh Berry, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports /

Josh Berry replaced Chase Elliott in five NASCAR Cup Series races earlier this year, but it is Corey LaJoie who is set to replace him at Gateway.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott will not be competing in Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway after NASCAR suspended him for his move on Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin in Monday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Elliott already missed six races earlier this season after suffering a fractured left tibia in a Colorado snowboarding accident, and JR Motorsports Xfinity Series driver Josh Berry replaced him in all but the road course race at Circuit of the Americas, when Jordan Taylor filled in behind the wheel of the No. 9 Chevrolet.

Then when Alex Bowman missed four races with a fractured vertebra he suffered in a sprint car crash, Berry was called upon again to replace him in each event, including three points races and the All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

However, it is Corey LaJoie, who usually drives the No. 7 Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports, who is set to replace Elliott in Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300 presented by TicketSmarter at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. Set to replace LaJoie in his usual full-time entry is Truck Series driver Carson Hocevar.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series and Cup Series are not racing at the same location this weekend.

The Xfinity Series is scheduled to run at Portland International Raceway on Sunday, June 3 at 4:30 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1). While there was no formal confirmation that Berry was the go-to option, it seems relatively obvious that having Berry drive the No. 9 Chevrolet as Elliott’s replacement this weekend simply wasn’t worth the hassle.

The reason why Hocevar is set to replace LaJoie is because the Truck Series, unlike the Xfinity Series, is set to run at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway this weekend. The Truck Series race is scheduled for Saturday, June 3 at 1:30 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1).

Hocever, who competes full-time for Niece Motorsports in the Truck Series, recently competed in two Xfinity Series races for Spire Motorsports, making him an ideal candidate to replace LaJoie.

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The Cup Series race is scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 4, with live coverage set to be provided by Fox Sports 1 beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV and don’t miss any of the action this weekend!