CONCORD, N.C. – Chase Elliott will be behind the wheel of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this weekend at Martinsville Speedway and he is ready to get back to action. 

"I feel like this was the right week to do it," Elliott said during a media availability on Thursday. "I feel good and the doctors got to a point where they were comfortable with it and they left it up to me to decide when I was ready. We had a good couple days in the sim. That led to building some confidence and wanting to go ahead and go to Martinsville (Speedway)."

On Wednesday afternoon, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Elliott would return to the car for the first time since the Feb. 26 race at Auto Club Speedway

RELATED: Elliott's return set for Martinsville

Elliott suffered a fractured tibia while snowboarding. The 27-year-old underwent successful surgery at The Steadman Clinic, a U.S. Olympic National Medical Center in Vail, Colorado. He rehabilitated in Colorado before returning to his home in Dawsonville, Georgia, in late March to continue physical therapy. Elliott was medically cleared on Tuesday and tested on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Chevrolet Driver-in-the-Loop simulator in Concord, North Carolina, before making the decision to return at Martinsville. 

NASCAR Xfinity Series full-time driver Josh Berry filled in for five races and earned a runner-up finish at Richmond Raceway. Berry will be on standby for Elliott if needed at Martinsville. Road racing standout Jordan Taylor drove for the team at Circuit of The Americas. The six starts were the first that Elliott has missed in his full-time Cup Series racing career. From to start of the 2016 season to the 2023 race at Auto Club, Elliott had made 254 straight starts.

"It was odd to watch your car go around the track, have your name on it, watch your guys and everybody there and you are the only piece missing," Elliott said. "That was certainly an aspect that was strange. 

"…Josh has done a really good job. I thought Jordan did a great job. Those are really tough things to have to jump in there and fill in like that and do it on short notice."

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NASCAR has granted Elliott a waiver for playoff eligibility. Given his position in the point standings (34th), he will likely need to win one of the next 18 regular-season races to make the postseason. So far, a runner-up finish at Auto Club highlights his two starts on the season. 

"We are in a position where we are going to have to win," Elliott said. "That’s at least how I am looking at it and how I have been thinking about it since this happened. I figured you miss a few weeks and you are pretty much going to have to win. I don’t think I change my approach. Does that change how we call races from a strategic standpoint? Yeah, it probably does. 

"Does it change how I drive or how the car will be set up for the weekend? No, we are always out there trying to win events. I certainly think it can change your play as far as a particular race day. We see guys shorten stages to try and get the win or whatever going for points. Obviously, we don’t need to go for points. Anytime you have those decisions to make, the decision is going to be very easy. You play the long game and try to win the event."

The next four tracks (Martinsville, Talladega Superspeedway, Dover Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway) are all places Elliott has won. Two of them – Talladega and Dover – are among the four tracks he has won on two occasions. 

RELATED: See all of Elliott's NASCAR Cup Series wins

A driver returning from injury to make the playoffs has happened before and in one instance, a championship was won. In 2015, Kyle Busch missed the first 11 races of the season with multiple leg injuries from a crash in the NASCAR Xfinity Series opener at Daytona International Speedway. Busch went on to win four races in the regular season and the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway to win the title. In 2016, Tony Stewart missed the first eight races of his final season, but a win at Sonoma Raceway earned him a spot in the playoffs.

Elliott has made three straight Championship 4 appearances, scoring the Cup Series title in 2020 and finishing fourth in the standings the past two seasons. In his Cup Series career, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native has 18 wins and has won multiple races in each of the past five seasons. Interestingly enough, he has only once earned a victory before the 10th race of the season and that came in the 2020 season (a season that stopped for nearly two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic) with his win in the eighth race of the year at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 

PHOTOS: Look back at every Hendrick Motorsports win at Martinsville

With Alan Gustafson, the driver-crew chief combo have the second-most wins among current pairings. All of Elliott’s wins have come with Gustafson atop the pit box. To date, Elliott has 87 top-five finishes, 138 top-10s, 12 poles and 4,901 laps led. 

The five-time National Motorsports Press Association Most Popular Driver Award winner expressed his appreciation of the support he received from his legion of fans as well as the team, the organization and all throughout the garage during his absence.

"To the fans that have reached out in any form, I haven’t seen all of them, but I certainly appreciate it," Elliott said. "That has been one of the best parts of this whole process from our fans to our partners to (team owner) Rick (Hendrick) to everyone at Hendrick Motorsports to my teammates to my peers at the racetrack and other competitors, everyone has just been nothing but supportive and are behind me 100 percent in everything that has gone on. Everyone has just been very supportive and very positive about the whole situation. For that, I am very grateful."

Tune in to watch Elliott’s return on Sunday, April 16, at 3 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).