Michael McDowell, the driver of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford Mustang, shared his thoughts on whether or not Chase Elliott should receive a medical waiver to make himself eligible for the NASCAR Cup Series championship.
Elliott broke his leg in a snowboarding accident ahead of the race at Las Vegas Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports announced on March 4th, “Elliott, the 2020 Cup Series champion, suffered the injury to his left leg today while snowboarding in Colorado.”
The team went on reveal in a second update, “Chase Elliott underwent a successful surgery on a fractured tibia on Friday night.”
As for when he might return to the car Hendrick Motorsports Team President and General Manager said, “There is no timeline at this point. We would expect this to obviously be several weeks but beyond that, I don’t have a timeline to offer for you. We will work with Chase and his doctors in the future to help determine that.”
In order to compete for the NASCAR Cup Series championship, Elliott would need to receive a medical waiver from NASCAR. The governing body requires drivers participate in every race in order to maintain playoff eligibility unless they are granted a waiver.
Given Elliott already missed the race at Las Vegas Speedway he would need the waiver in order to become playoff eligible. If he is granted a waiver a recent rule change for this year might aid him in becoming playoff eligible. NASCAR removed the requirement that in order to become playoff eligible by winning a race you would not have be in the Top 30 in points.
It’s likely that Elliott will indeed be granted the waiver. NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Competition Elton Sawyer recently stated, “I wouldn’t see any reason he wouldn’t be granted the waiver, but we’ll go through that process and make sure that we’re checking all the boxes.”
He added, “This isn’t uncharted waters for us as a sanctioning body. Very similar situation to Tony Stewart a few years back. Our fans remember Tony was injured in a Sprint car race in the preseason and the waiver wasn’t granted until I believe April and then he was cleared to come back racing at Richmond that year.”
“So we’ll go through the due diligence, we’ll work closely with out folks as well as the folks at Hendrick Motorsports to, again, get Chase back as quick as possible,” Sawyer concluded.
McDowell weighed in on whether Elliott should receive a waiver saying, “I haven’t really put much thought into it, but I feel like — I haven’t really thought about it, but our sport and season is very long. And so I feel like other sports; NBA, football, baseball you can have an injury whether it’s in game or not in game and still be part of the championship, be a part of the whole season.”
He continued, “So I think eliminating somebody due to an illness or an injury is — for how long our sport is and for how many races we have — is probably not the best way of doing it. So I feel like he should get a waiver and that’s part of it. You can’t control everything.”
McDowell concluded the question saying, “I know everybody has an opinion about what guys should and shouldn’t do, but you can get injured doing anything.”
Pointing to Daniel Hemric he said, “Look at Daniel Hemric, he got injured earlier this year working out, training for an upcoming race. So I don’t treat that anything different than if it’s recreational.”
Do you think Chase Elliott should receive a waiver so he will still be eligible for the playoffs?