DOVER, Del. — — Before Chase Elliott shredded on a snowboard and Alex Bowman moonlighted in a sprint car, Rick Hendrick issued a warning to all his Cup drivers who craved extracurricular activities outside their lucrative NASCAR careers.
Be careful. Or else.
Even so, Hendrick Motorsports has become the home of the injured driver due to thrill-seeking outside interests.
Bowman, who has seven career wins, suffered a fractured vertebra in a sprint car crash and will miss at least the next three Cup races. Elliott, the 2020 NASCAR champion, recently returned from a six-race absence after breaking his left leg snowboarding in Colorado in March.
If these kind of mishaps happen again to to Elliott, Bowman, Kyle Larson or William Byron, it could be the end of Hendrick drivers’ adventures, Hendrick Motorsports general manager Jeff Andrews said Saturday.
“For right now, there’s not going to be any changes to our policy other than just be just be aware,” Andrews said. “The most important thing is the results on Sunday in the Cup Series.”
Josh Berry is coming off the bench again, this time to take the wheel of Bowman’s No. 48 Chevrolet at Dover Motor Speedway.
“This is Alex’s race team,” said Berry, who finished as high as second in five starts for Elliott. “My job in this situation is to try and keep these guys going and prepared and happy and ready to rock ‘n’ roll whenever Alex gets back.”
Berry is in the right-numbered car at the right track if he wants to take the checkered flag: Jimmie Johnson won a track-record 11 times in the 48 and Bowman won in 2021.
Elliott has vowed he won’t stop snowboarding or any other non-NASCAR activities he enjoys. A five-time winner of NASCAR’s most popular driver award, Elliott understands the series is dependent on stars like him to sell tickets, goose TV ratings and drive interest. Even Elliott’s decision this shave his mustache this week drew attention at Dover.
Berry, meanwhile, is a candidate to replace the retiring Kevin Harvick next season at Stewart-Haas Racing, but but fans don’t flock to him in the garage and ask for autographs like they would for Elliott.
Hendrick largely banned drivers to participate in extracurricular activities — rules related primarily to racing outside of NASCAR — until Larson came on in 2021. Larson’s popularity exploded as he made his name as a big winner in the short distance, high-speed races. And Bowman’s injury happened at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa, in…
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