Chase Elliott, the NASCAR Cup Series Most Popular Driver, will return to drive the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in this weekend's NOCO 400 at Martinsville Speedway. Elliott, 27, had missed the last six races recovering from a broken left tibia sustained in a snowboarding accident in Colorado.
Hendrick Motorsports confirmed Elliott's return for this weekend's race in a press release on Wednesday afternoon.
Team owner Rick Hendrick says the HMS team is ready to see Elliott get back to doing what he does best -- competing for race wins.
"We’re looking forward to having Chase back in his race car to pick up where he left off," said Hendrick. "Since the injury, he’s worked extremely hard and focused all his time and energy on returning to the No. 9 team. Throughout the last six weeks, he’s stayed fully engaged with everything we’re doing, and we know he’s chomping at the bit to get on the racetrack and compete for wins."
In the moments following the announcement, NASCAR confirmed that it had approved a medical waiver for Elliott, which will keep him eligible for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
Elliott currently sits 34th in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings and is 134 points below the Playoff cut line. Elliott will likely need a victory to secure his place in the Playoffs.
According to Hendrick Motorsports, after being medically cleared on Tuesday, Elliott tested Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning in the Chevrolet Driver-in-the-Loop simulator in Concord, North Carolina. Following the test, Elliott made the decision to return to action this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.
While Elliott was sidelined, Josh Berry and Jordan Taylor kept the No. 9 afloat by filling in and scoring points for the team in the NASCAR Cup Series Owner Championship standings.
In Elliott's absence, the No. 9 car had a best finish of second, which was achieved by Berry at Richmond Raceway.
"Having such high-caliber drivers available was a huge benefit, especially under difficult circumstances," said Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports. "Josh and Jordan each brought a tremendous amount of professionalism to our team, and we’re truly grateful for their contributions. Their preparation and talent made a big difference. We can’t overstate it."
Elliott will without a doubt be ready to hit the track this weekend. The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion has excelled at Martinsville Speedway over the years as he scored a victory at the 0.526-mile short track in the fall of 2020, and he has recorded three other top-three finishes at the paperclip.
Photo Credit: Craig White / TobyChristie.com