After spending five of the last six weeks running double-duty between the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series, Josh Berry’s role as the interim driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro has come to an end.
On Wednesday, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Chase Elliott would return to the NASCAR Cup Series in Sunday’s NOCO 400 at Martinsville, after being medically cleared to compete on Tuesday.
Though the five-time Xfinity Series winner isn’t scheduled to get behind the wheel this weekend, he’ll still be involved with the inner-workings of the team, as Hendrick Motorsports tells TobyChristie.com he’ll remain on standby should Elliott need a relief driver.
Elliott, the sport’s most popular driver, has been on the sidelines for the last six weeks, after suffering a fractured tibia while snowboarding in Colorado, undergoing surgery at The Steadman Clinic, a U.S. Olympic National Medical Center in Vail, Colorado.
The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion tested at the Chevrolet Driver-in-the-Loop simulator on Wednesday, before deciding he would return to NASCAR Cup Series competition at Martinsville.
In his time as a replacement driver, Berry, considered to be a strong short track racer from his Late Model experience, scored a 10th-place finish in his second drive in the No. 9 at Phoenix, and an impressive runner-up result at Richmond, with interim crew chief Tom Gray.
As Elliott is scheduled to return to the seat in Martinsville, so will Alan Gustafson, after serving his four-race suspension stemming from L2-level penalties assessed to the organization post-Phoenix.
The Dawsonville, Georgia native will have a 20-minute practice session, and two laps of qualifying to get re-acclimated with the NextGen car, after being outside the car for a month and a half.
Should Elliott need to be relieved of his driving duties post-practice and qualifying, or at any point during Sunday’s 400-lap contest, Berry would be called to the driver’s seat of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro at a track he’s triumphed at in the Xfinity Series before.