A few weeks after the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season ended, Hendrick Motorsports' Chase Elliott underwent a procedure on his right shoulder.
Upon having the procedure, which was performed to fix what he called an "old injury", he posted a video on social media to give fans an update.
In that video, and in pictures that have since been posted, he could be seen wearing a sling.
Will Chase Elliott be back for the start of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season?
If history is any indicator, this surgery will not prove to be much of a hindrance. As Elliott stated, having an operation such as this one during the offseason makes much more sense than having it done during the season, and he expects to be "good to go" for next year.
While no two procedures -- and no two individuals -- are alike, the fact that he could afford to wait until the offseason to have it done would seem to suggest that he should indeed make a full recovery in time for the start of the 2024 season. The offseason gives him plenty of time to do that without missing any competition.
Offseason shoulder surgeries have also become quite common among Cup Series drivers, and everything turned out fine ahead of the following season in each recent case.
Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin underwent a procedure on a torn labrum after the 2019 season, and he returned in time for the start of the 2020 season -- and won the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. He did not miss any races that season.
After the 2021 season, 23XI Racing's Bubba Wallace underwent an operation on his shoulder, and he too returned in time for the start of the 2022 season. He couldn't quite match Hamlin, but he began the year with a runner-up finish in the Daytona 500. Aside from a late season suspension, he too did not miss any races that year.
In fact, Hamlin himself recently underwent another offseason shoulder surgery, and like was the case in 2020, he too expects to be back at full strength before the start of the 2024 season.
So barring any unforeseen complications, there is little reason to believe that NASCAR's most popular driver won't be back and ready to compete at the start of the 2024 season as he aims to bounce back from a disappointing 2023 campaign.
Elliott missed seven races during the 2023 season, six with a leg injury he suffered in a snowboarding crash (when the surgery could not wait, which he alluded to in the video) and one due to a suspension. He failed to make the playoffs for the first time in his career.
What were series-best streaks of top 10 points finishes (seven), round of 12 appearances (seven), round of 8 appearances (six), Championship 4 appearances (three), multi-win seasons (five), and consecutive races as a championship-eligible driver (134) were all brought to an end during the 2023 season.
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is scheduled to host the Busch Light Clash preseason exhibition race on Sunday, February 4, while the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season is officially scheduled to get underway on Sunday, February 18 with the 66th annual Daytona 500. Both races are set to be shown live on Fox, so begin a free trial of FuboTV and don't miss them!