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Elliott had successful surgery to repair fractured tibia

On Saturday, Hendrick Motorsports offered an update on NASCAR Cup Series star Chase Elliott, who has been sidelined by a leg injury he suffered in a snowboarding accident.

The accident took place on Friday in Colorado, and has forced Elliott to miss a Cup race for the first time since the 2015 season when he was only running part-time.

Elliott, 27, suffered a fracture of the tibia in his left leg. A three-hour surgery on Friday night was called a success by HMS, and they have yet to set a timeline for his return. The team would only say that they expect it to be several weeks.

"On behalf of Mr. Hendrick, (who) wants to make sure that everyone knows that our concern at this time is the health and well-being first and foremost of Chase Elliott," began Jeff Andrews, President and General Manager at Hendrick Motorsports

"We don't obviously have a lot of details with this being a little bit less than 24 hours old for us now. But Chase did go through a successful surgery last night that lasted about three hours. He's doing well. The surgery was to repair a fractured tibia and that's really the extent of what we know."

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Andrews said that HMS would not reevaluate its policies about what drivers may do in their spare time, despite Elliott's injury. 

"These guys have to go out and live a life outside of the race track," said Andrews. Certainly, what Chase was doing wasn't anything abnormal for him. He's an experienced snowboarder and he's been doing it most of his life. It was an accident. A similar injury could happen falling off a mountain bike, or stepping off a curb while you're jogging. It was an accident and Chase feels awful about it but our stance on it is just that. It was an accident and our guys have to go out and live their lives. 

"Obviously, we've let Alex (Bowman) and Kyle (Larson) both drive sprint cars. Chase has been in a midget at various times last year so I don't anticipate a policy change at Hendrick Motorsports based around this."

Hendrick Motorsports has already begun the formal process of applying for a playoff waiver, so Elliott can remain eligible for the championship whenever he returns. 

NASCAR is not expected to rule on a waiver for Elliott until he is medically cleared to return to racing. In addition, Elliott's injury/future waiver is the first instance to come up since the rule requiring the driver to be in top 30 in points in the Cup Series to use a win to make the playoffs was eliminated in the offseason.

"Our goals are still the same," said Alan Gustafson, crew chief for the No. 9 team "Our objectives are still the same. Certainly, things have changed but we want to compete and compete at a high level and my focus right now is really making the transition as easy for Josh as possible, and trying to help him get acclimated with the car and feel comfortable and get to a position where he can use his talent and his ability to be successful. I think, moving forward past that, it's still the same goal. To be as good as we possibly can when Chase gets back, and win as many races as possible. 

He then added: "There's certainly a lot of challenges that come with this but I think we all can learn and grow and find ways to improve and be ready to go when the playoffs come around.  

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro, Alan Gustafson, Hendrick Motorsports, NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro, Alan Gustafson, Hendrick Motorsports, NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images

Elliott is expected to leave the hospital today. Andrews also talked about the former champion's mindset, and how he's feeling mentally after the injury. 

"We all know Chase and he cares an awful lot about his race team and Mr. Hendrick and I think at the top of his mind, he's worried and concerned that he let Mr. Hendrick down and his race team down. I texted with him this morning, and he was asking how late his guys had to work and things like that with the swap-over. That's pretty typical Chase Elliott, but he's a great kid. He's got a huge heart and I can only imagine how hard it is. He's worried about how hard it is on us and we're worried about how hard it is on him."

Berry steps in

In his absence, NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Josh Berry has been chosen to pilot the No. 9 Hendrick Chevrolet at Las Vegas. He has two previous Cup starts, but never in a Next Gen car.

In a response to a Motorsport.com question, Andrews said of the decision to go with Berry: "Of course we looked to our partners at JRM (JR Motorsports). I do want to give a shoutout to Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) and Kelley (Earnhardt-Miller) and L.W. (Miller) and everybody over there. They were never accommodating yesterday to see if Josh would be available to drive today.

"The decision was made a lot about Josh's driving style and then of course, the fit in the car. Trying find someone close to Chase's size, given the timing and what we had to work with here in getting him fitted in the car last night. Those were really the two main decisions around why we wanted to go with Josh."

Berry fully understands both the opportunity and challenge in front of him. With limited practice and qualifying immediately afterwards, he won't have much time to get acquainted with the race car. His goals for the weekend ahead remain realistic. 

"We know it's going to be a challenge, but at least I've been here, won here," said Berry, who's won twice at Vegas in the Xfinity Series. "That'll help the growing pains a little bit but obviously the cars a lot different. These guys have some great tools to look at and prepare for and I'm just going to try not and overthink it and just take it a lap at a time. Just try to run all the laps and be there at the end of the race tomorrow."

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