Chase Elliott will make his triumphant return to the #9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driver’s seat on Sunday, 16 April at Martinsville Speedway after missing the last six NASCAR Cup Series races due to injury.
Elliott fractured his tibia after a snowboarding accident in Colorado in early March, days before the third race of the season at Las Vegas. Josh Berry, from Hendrick’s Xfinity Series affiliate team JR Motorsports, took over the #9 for the five oval races that Elliott missed and scored two top tens including a runner-up finish at Richmond. The lone road race during this stretch at Circuit of the Americas saw Jordan Taylor make his NASCAR début, qualify fourth, and finish twenty-fourth after a late spin.
Meanwhile, Elliott underwent surgery at The Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado, before returning home to Dawsonville, Georgia, to continue recovery. He was medically cleared to race by NASCAR on Tuesday and elected to enter Martinsville.
His timetable for recovery had projected approximately six to eight weeks, with many having expected him to return at Talladega Superspeedway on 23 April or Dover Motor Speedway the following week.
“We’re looking forward to having Chase back in his race car to pick up where he left off,” said team owner Rick Hendrick. “Since the injury, he’s worked extremely hard and focused all his time and energy on returning to the #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 race track and compete for wins.”
Elliott has received a waiver to compete in the playoffs should he qualify. NASCAR dropped the rule stipulating playoff drivers must be within the top thirty in points, meaning he simply needs to win a race to be eligible. He is currently thirty-eighth in the standings due to his absence, but was fourteenth at the time of his injury after two races with a runner-up in his most recent start at Fontana.
He has nine top tens in fifteen career Cup starts at Martinsville, winning the fall race in 2020 en route to the championship.