Chase Elliott to make his return at Martinsville this weekend

AVONDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 05: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on November 05, 2022 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Chase Elliott will be back in the No. 9 Hendrick Chevrolet for this Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Martinsville Speedway.

The team announced Wednesday that Elliott had been medically cleared to return. The 2020 champion and NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver broke his tibia while snowboarding on March 3 just before the race at Las Vegas and underwent successful surgery at The Steadman Clinic, a U.S. Olympic National Medical Center in Vail, Colorado. The 27-year-old underwent rehab in Colorado before returning home to Dawsonville, Georgia, in late March to continue physical therapy.

The team said after getting medically cleared Tuesday, Elliott tested Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning in the Chevrolet Driver-in-the-Loop simulator in Concord, North Carolina, before making the final decision to return at Martinsville.

“We’re looking forward to having Chase back in his race car to pick up where he left off,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “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.”

Josh Berry has filled in for Elliott in five of the last six Cup Series events with a best finish of second, which came at Richmond Raceway. Jordan Taylor drove the No. 9 Chevrolet at Circuit of The Americas, starting fourth and finishing 24th in his Cup debut.

“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.”

The team said it has received a waiver from NASCAR to allow Elliott to be eligible for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Elliott won the fall race at Martinsville in 2020.

Greg Engle