Column: Chase Elliott Undergoes Successful Surgery; Alex Bowman Can Empathize With Relief Driver Josh Berry
Column By: REID SPENCER / NASCAR – LAS VEGAS, NV – After breaking his left tibia during a snowboarding accident in Colorado on Friday, Chase Elliott underwent successful surgery lasting approximately three hours, according to Hendrick Motorsports president and general manager Jeff Andrews.
Josh Berry, who drives the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, will substitute for Elliott in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Elliott is expected to miss multiple races while he recovers, and there is currently no timeline for his return, Andrews said. The No. 9 Chevrolet will continue to compete for the owner’s championship, and the organization can apply to NASCAR for a medical waiver that would keep Elliott eligible for the driver’s title.
Berry, 32, has just two Cup starts to his credit, both in 2021, and he has never driven NASCAR’s Next Gen car, introduced into the series last year.
“Without a doubt, it’s going to be a great challenge for me,” Berry said, “but with great challenge comes great opportunity for me to learn and grow as a driver and work around a lot of really talented and smart people here at Hendrick Motorsports.
“So we’re just taking it one lap at a time and one day at a time… We really don’t have any expectations at this point. We’re going to try to get to this practice and qualifying (for the Cup event). I’m going to race my Xfinity car, and then we’ll meet some more and talk about it and make a plan for (Sunday).”
Alex Bowman can empathize with relief driver Josh Berry
Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman knows both sides of the substitute driver equation.
In 2016, he was pressed into service for 10 races in the No. 88 Hendrick Chevrolet while Dale Earnhardt Jr. was recovering from a concussion.
Last year, Bowman missed five races because of concussion symptoms and was replaced in his No. 48 Chevy by Noah Gragson.
With his experience as a relief driver, Bowman understands the challenge facing NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Josh Berry, who will sub for injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Hendrick Chevrolet on Sunday.
“I think it’s a hard situation to step into,” Bowman said. “Obviously, we had some success when I filled in, but it’s really hard. I think it’s only gotten harder with the Next Gen car coming in. The Xfinity car used to be so similar to a Cup car, and now they couldn’t be more different in how they drive and how you can approach how to aggressively drive them…
“Definitely different, but I think it is a good opportunity for Josh to learn and to see how Hendrick Motorsports operates and to see the things that we do and to be a part of an organization like that, even though it’s through a situation that nobody wants.”
Four deserving families get rides of a lifetime at Las Vegas
In the sprawling Las Vegas area, a car is not a luxury—it’s a necessity.
And during race weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, four deserving local families will receive the gift of transportation through the National Auto Body Council Recycled Rides program.
The four cars will be furnished by donor GEICO and collision repair partner Caliber Collision, whose technicians refurbished the vehicles. Speedway Children’s Charities-Las Vegas Chapter also is an active supporter of the program.
Two cars were scheduled to be presented on Saturday on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway stage in the Fan Zone. Sunday’s two recipients will receive their cars in the speedway’s infield before driver introductions for the Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Cup Series race.
Saturday’s recipients are Lynette Brandon, a single mother of three nominated by the YMCA of Southern Nevada; and Pablo Sandoval, nominated by Ronald McDonald House of Greater Las Vegas.
On Sunday, cars will go to Emilio Swann, an active-duty Marine training to join the Military Police K-9 unit, nominated by the Children’s Foundation of Las Vegas; and Ellen Mills, nominated by Valley View Community Cares.