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NASCAR Cup Martinsville

Chase Elliott to make NASCAR return at Martinsville Speedway

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott will return to the series this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro

Elliott, 27, suffered a fractured tibia in his left leg while snowboarding in Colorado on 3 March, forcing him to miss six races.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver now sits 34th in the championship standings. Josh Berry has run five of those races, finishing as high as second at Richmond, while Jordan Taylor ran the other at COTA.

"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 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."

Elliott has been granted a medical waiver by NASCAR and remains eligible for the championship. Although he could still mathematically earn enough points to make the playoffs the traditional way, he'll likely have to win in order to secure a spot in the postseason.

Kyle Busch famously did just that in 2015 after missing ten races due to a broken leg, and he went on to win the Cup Series championship.

 

NASCAR no longer requires a driver to be in the top-30 in the points standings in order to remain playoff eligible either, so that is one less hurdle for Elliott to face upon his return.

Elliott was medically cleared on Tuesday and ultimately made the decision to return this weekend after a successful test in the Chevrolet simulator.

This weekend will be Elliott's 260th career start at the Cup level.

Martinsville will also mark the return of crew chief Alan Gustafson, who was serving a four-week suspension after all four Hendrick Motorsports teams were found to have made unapproved modifications to the hood louvers on their cars.

Along with a $100,000 fine and four-week crew chief suspension for each team, they were all docked 100 driver and owner points and 10 playoff points.

Although an appeals panel found the team guilty, they still rescinded all points penalties against them, as they found the suspensions and monetary fines to be sufficient.

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