NASCAR has granted Chase Elliott a waiver enabling the Hendrick Motorsports driver to remain playoff eligible, however he will still miss the trip to World Wide Technology Raceway while serving a one-race suspension.
The sanctioning body confirmed the expected move on Thursday (US time). Elliott will be able to miss the next race on the schedule and still secure a spot in the playoffs if he can win one of the remaining regular-season races.
Elliott's suspension is due to an incident at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The driver of the #9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet intentionally hooked Denny Hamlin into the wall on the straight, which ultimately crashed both cars.
Elliott denied any wrongdoing after undergoing evaluation at the infield care center, but NASCAR determined that the move was intentional after examining SMT data, audio from the #9 team, and footage from the in-car camera.
NASCAR has specific rules in the top three national series – Craftsman Truck Series, Xfinity Series, and Cup Series. In order to be eligible for the playoffs, the drivers must attempt to qualify for every race on the schedule.
If the driver misses a race for any reason – suspension, injury, family emergency, or another reason – their team must request a waiver from NASCAR. The sanctioning body has approved the majority of requests in the past.
There are only three exceptions to this trend. The first two were for drivers missing races because of sponsorship issues – Grant Enfinger in the Truck Series and Kaz Grala in the Xfinity Series.
The third declined waiver request was for a driver serving a suspension for violations of the substance abuse policy – Spencer Gallagher in the Xfinity Series.
Hendrick Motorsports has requested two waivers for Elliott during the 2023 Cup Series season. The first came after his return from a fractured tibia that kept him out for six races. The second was for a behavioral penalty.
The 2020 Cup Series champion is currently 28th in the standings and 81 points behind teammate Alex Bowman. This number will only grow larger as he misses his seventh race of the season.
Securing a spot on points alone is highly unlikely. Instead, Elliott will need to win one race to punch his ticket to the opening round of the playoffs.